‘I Admitted to Stealing Under Duress’

Charles MacActhur D. Gull, former Buchanan Sea Port Manager.

-- Suspended Buchanan Port Manager breaks silence from exile

Charles MacArthur Gull, former Buchanan Sea Port Manager, has broken silence from exile by saying that his admittance to stealing nearly US$500,000 was done under pressure.

Gull took to his Facebook account yesterday (August 16, 2021) and disclosed that he admitted guilt ahead of any court trial because he feared losing his life as there was unnecessary pressure on him by some big hands in government. According to him, now that he is in a safe place (not known), he will speak the truth surrounding the controversies surrounding the transfer of nearly US$500,000 to a foreign bank account.

“It’s about time I speak and make clarity about the entire allegation. I had no option other than accepting under duress, fear of death, and being in imminent danger.  I have all the documents and communications in my possession. Locking my office not to get hold of any documents was a failed attempt, because every document I deemed essential was kept on my iCloud and it would be published to the press and the Liberian people. I won’t be the sacrificial lamb!  I am safe now, I can talk,” Gull said in his social media post. 

He added: “If it wasn’t about my integrity, I would have kept quiet. I will apologize to friends that this clarity will expose, but it’s about my name being rubbed in the dirt while the real culprits are the big guns.” 

Both Gull and his statistician, Amara Kamara, are said to have traveled to the U.S. through Sierra Leone upon declaration by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) that he and others including Bishop John Allan Klayee, the dismissed Managing Director of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA), that they were wanted for investigation on corruption allegations.

Earlier, NPA Director of Public Affairs Malcolm Scott had announced that the two Buchanan Port officials pleaded for mercy, but that the Port as an institution could not compromise the interest of the State by accepting their cries for mercy. Mr. Scott told a news conference on Wednesday, August 11, that the NPA has turned over Charles D. Gull and Amara Kamara to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) for further investigation in the matter.

The journey of the ongoing situation began on July 16 this year when NPA issued for the first time a press release, emphasizing the suspension of the Buchanan Port Manager and his Statistician without pay and immediately launched a probe.

Owing to the suspension of the two-port officials, Madam Oretha Myers was appointed Acting Manager at the Port by the Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA), Bill Twehway. Meanwhile, Cllr. Edwin Kla Martin, the Executive Chairperson of LACC, said they will chase Charles Gull and whoever is accused of corruption to be brought back into the country to face the law. 

It is not clear how this would be done, mainly when an accused succeeds in running to the U.S., where Liberia has found it all too difficult over the years to extradite anyone. Cllr. Martin, however, said that his office has the support of the U.S. government through its Embassy near Monrovia.

“We will use all legal means possible and with the support of the USA, those linked to our investigation will be brought back to Liberia to face justice,” noting that due process will be provided to all. 

He said that US Ambassador Michael McCarthy visited the offices of the LACC and pledged his support to the LACC in the fight against corruption. Additionally, Martin said that Amb. McCarthy also promised to support the Commission with training facilities for investigators in money laundering and terrorist financing. Martins also expressed gratitude to the U.S. government and hoped that all other donors will follow suit.

At the same time, the LACC boss disclosed plans to investigate all seventy-three (73) audit reports which he inherited, stating that he will leave no one out and that those who are linked will have to come before the LACC to answer questions. “Those who are forwarded to court based on the complaint will be appropriately investigated in keeping with the legal details of the profession,” he further noted.

Acknowledging the COVID-19 health crisis, he stressed that the LACC has given an additional two months period beginning September 1, 2021, for government officials who have not declared their assets to do so. On the other hand, he also disclosed that the Commission, on the voluntary restitution front, has so far deposited US$18,000 to the restitution account from the case of Munah Sieh and others.