The constitution of a Presidential Task Force to investigate allegations of bribery and corruption allegedly committed primarily by state actors is causing many to grow premature grey hairs.
A fortnight ago, Liberians woke up to another seismic wave of stinking corruption allegation from none other than Global Witness (GW), the fearsome UK-based integrity watchdog group which became even more ferocious when it uncovered the rot contaminating Liberia’s forestry in 2012. We all know what happened as a result of that Global Witness investigative report which landed FDA higher-ups behind bars. With its latest “Deceiver 1” report, Global Witness has again fingered a good number of prominent Liberians. In that report GW disclosed that Sable Mining dished out to its Liberian lawyer, Varney Sherman, over US$950,000 in bribes and other suspicious payments. According to the documents, Sherman then began distributing Sable’s money to some of Liberia’s most important government officials including House Speaker Alex Tyler who received US$75,000; former Deputy Minister Morris Saytumah, now Senator of Bomi County, US$50,000; Fumba Sirleaf, son of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and National Security Agency Director, US$9,168; former National Investment Commission Chairman, Richard Tolbert, US$50,000 and another US$20,000 was donated to Invincible Eleven- a football club headed by Tolbert. Others who benefited from the dish-out include former Lofa Senator, now Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), Sumo Kupee, US$5,000; former Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Lands and Mines, Ernest C. B. Jones, US$4,500 and “Bigboy1 and Bigboy2 took US$250,000 each. Almost all of those named in the GW report have already started submitting themselves to the presidential committee to clear their names, with the exception of Cllr. Varney Sherman who is running from radio station to radio station indicating why he cannot submit himself to the committee. By his action, it is clear as daylight that Cllr. Sherman is hiding something. Sherman says he did nothing wrong. He says he did not commit any crime. He says he did not dish out hush monies for government officials to bend the concession laws. So how come he (Sherman) gave Invincible Eleven (IE) $10,000 at the time Dr. Richard Tolbert headed the National Investment Commission and was president of IE? What was the special relationship between IE and Sable for Sable to provide IE money under the guise of social corporate responsibility? The best thing for Varney Sherman to do is to submit himself to the committee and clear his name. Richard Tolbert’s admission has already entangled Sherman, who must now explain to the committee and the Liberian people how all the monies that Sable transferred into the Sherman & Sherman Law Firm’s corporate account were expended. Too many loose ends need to be tied.