Liberia: Unmasking the Hypocrisy of the Financial Intelligence Unit


By Stanfill Ricks,

The news of Cassell Kuoh’s pending release from jail and subsequent deportation from the United States is being met with a mixed reception in Liberia for all the right and wrong reasons.

For many, it is a celebration as he returns to Liberia— to his homes and businesses intact. 

But to the careful observers, it shows the selectivity of Liberia’s law enforcement, specifically the Financial Intelligence Unit, when there is an underlying agenda.

It has been nearly a year since Sheikh Bassirou Kante, CEO of Royal Gold Trading Inc. was nabbed by US authorities on a host of fraud related charges. 

Following his arrest in the United States, thousands of miles away from Liberia, zealots in the Liberian government backed by an equally shady character like Nathaniel McGill — perhaps wanting to ingratiate themselves with Uncle Sam—went into the overdrive by laying claim and seizure to Kante’s assets, businesses.

In so doing, they have gobbled everything the Liberian businessman once owned and placed it into their personal and private use.

Their pernicious actions have left 200 Liberians out of job as Royal Gold Trading Inc. was/is a legally established business in Liberia. 

And this was all masterminded allegedly by disgraced former Minister of State Nathaniel Fallo McGill.

But the hypocrisy of the actions of McGill and his henchmen at the Financial Intelligence Unit could be seen and was put on display when Cassell Kuoh was also in similar straits like Sheikh Bassirou Kante. 

Kuoh was accused of duping American businessmen out of millions of dollars by selling them gold that wasn’t his. 

Interestingly, the gold belongs to the government of Liberia. It was gathered that he, in connivance with some officials of Lands & Mines Ministry, were part of the elaborate scheme that garnered him millions of dollars.

Kuoh, according to US media accounts, possessed a diplomatic Liberian passport. At the time he was serving as a vice president of the Liberia Football Association and CEO of a football club that he owns. 

Following Kuoh’s publicized arrest in the United States, the Liberian government vis-à-vis the Financial Intelligence Unit,  never bothered to lift its finger against a man who made it on the news across several channels in the United States.  

Kuoh is known for his lavish and extravagant lifestyle, as proceeds from his activities were metamorphosed into several businesses and a football club named FC Fassell. 

But Kuoh is not alone. 

The deceased former standard bearer of the People Liberation Party, Dr. Daniel E. Cassell was arrested months ago for healthcare fraud. 

Prior to his disgraceful arrest after he was coerced to return to the United States or run the risk of getting arrested in Liberia by US Marshalls, the Liberian politician was well known in the country for being a “humanitarian.”

Daniel Cassell’s arrest and imprisonment shocked many, particularly those hoping for a change in the political landscape of Liberia. 

Strangely but not surprisingly, the FIU  did not move, whether by the speed of a lightning bolt or a tortoise, to effect seizure on the bank accounts and assets of Dr. Daniel Cassell as it did with Sheikh Bassirou Kante.

Yet when he was arrested, the government did not seize his assets or have his account frozen as they did with account number 0201012408900220001000 at Guaranty Trust (GT) Bank that belongs to Royal Gold Trading Inc. 

All of this goes to show that the government- or those in government are usually acting outside the scope of awareness of the president - always have a particular agenda when they want to make a mountain out of a morehill. 

Were the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and former Minister McGill not in the know of the doings of the late Dr. Daniel E. Cassell and former LFA Vice President Cassell Kuoh? 

Why did they not go after them with gusto as they did with Sheikh Bassirou Kante and Royal Gold Trading Inc.?

Why was the FIU taking its diktat from a former Minister who is internationally blacklisted? 

This goes to show that the Financial Intelligence Unit is not independent as it appears to be and cannot be trusted to crack down on crimes of fraud etc. 

Clearly, Sheikh Bassirou Kante and Royal Gold Trading Inc., were targeted based on their alleged association with Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor.

And it was based on that perception , Minister Nathaniel McGill, perhaps wanting to settle a score with Vice President Taylor for political reasons or otherwise, flexed his muscles by using the gullible Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to hit at Kante and his company. 

The Financial Intelligence Unit is now a tool being used by politicians and it’s far from what the framers intended it to be when it was passed into law to become an independent anti-corruption institution. 

Why, just why, has the FIU not also gone after former Minister of State, Nathaniel McGill, since he was sanctioned by the United States Government remains the lingering question that’s begging for answers. 

McGill was sanctioned by the US government for being a poster child for corruption in Liberia. It is time for the Legislature to look into the doings of the FIU as well as review the act that established it.