Liberia: ‘LNBA Must Investigate Cephus, Sherman’

Suspended Solicitor General Cephus.

… in light of U.S. Sanctions for bribery

A Senior Supreme Court lawyer, Jonathan T. Massaquoi, has expressed disappointment over the inability of both the Judiciary and the Liberia National Bar Association LNBA) to probe the US government’s bribery accusation against the suspended Solicitor General, Sayma Syrenius Cephus.

“This is a damaging report on the integrity of the LNBA and our judicial system. We have to act swiftly, we have to welcome it and protect the image of our institutions by forwarding Cephus to the Grievance and Ethics Committee for immediate investigation,” Massaquoi said.

“This is the second time the US government has sanctioned another member of our institution and our leadership has done absolutely nothing to investigate the report of bribery and ethical breach,” Massaquoi noted.

“The integrity of our noble institution is under attack and [meanwhile] we are just sitting without saying or doing anything in defense of it. Why are we allowing just two persons to embarrass us with bribery accusations? We need to act swiftly to investigate Cllr. Cephus and, if found liable, [he should] be punished like other lawyers for bribery and ethical breach,” he noted.

Massaquoi recalled that in December 2019, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned the Senator of Grand Cape Mount County, Cllr. Varney Sherman, for bribery and ethical conduct. “But, up to the present, the LNBA is doing nothing to probe and to ensure that those accused exonerate themselves.”

Recently, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Liberian government officials Nathaniel McGill, Sayma Syrenius Cephus, and Bill Twehway for their involvement in ongoing public corruption in Liberia. These officials are designated pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

According to the US Treasury, Cephus developed close relationships with suspects of criminal investigations and has received bribes from individuals in exchange for having their cases dropped.

 Cephus has worked behind the scenes to establish arrangements with subjects of money laundering investigations to cease investigations in order to personally benefit financially. He shields money launderers and helps clear them through the court system and has intimidated other prosecutors in an attempt to quash investigations. 

Cephus has also utilized his position to hinder investigations and block the prosecution of corruption cases involving members of the government. Cephus has been accused of tampering with and purposefully withholding evidence in cases involving members of opposition political parties to ensure conviction. 

Cephus is being designated for being a foreign person who is a current government official who is responsible for or complicit in, or who has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.

“What proof do we need to investigate Cephus and Sherman to uphold the moral and ethical value of the LNBA, as respectable people who believe in the rule of law?” Massaquoi wondered.