Out of concern over reports of the suspicious deaths of three public-sector internal auditors and a Tax Payer Manager in Liberia, The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), a U.S.-based organization representing public- and private-sector auditors in Liberia and nearly 200 countries and territories, have called on the U.S. government to support Liberia President George Weah’s request for help in investigating the incidents.
In a formal letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, dated October 16, 2020, IIA President and CEO Richard F. Chambers stated, “While evidence of any wrongdoing in the recent deaths of the four auditors so far appears inconclusive, the United States and Liberia have a special relationship dating back more than 160 years and supporting this notable ally would be an important gesture of our countries’ commitment to each other’s security.”
Chambers recalled in his letter that “only a year ago, Thami Zikode, chief audit executive of the South African Broadcasting Corporation, survived an assassination attempt, according to reports, which also stated that Zikode was investigating allegations of corruption.”
Occurring over eight days, from October 3-10, the four deaths involved Emmanuel Barten Nyeswua, director-general, Liberia Internal Audit Agency, and Albert Peters, Victoria Asmah ‘Gifty’ Lamah, and George F. Fanboto, all with the Liberia Revenue Authority. All four reportedly were conducting audits of Liberia government accounts over allegations of misappropriation of funds. Nyeswa died of an apparent fall, while the others died in apparent car accidents, the IIA said in a release.
“If these deaths are determined to be more than coincidental accidents, we feel that such a sinister act, particularly on public servants whose sole role is to protect the country’s citizens, would be an attack on the people and an assault on society and democracy,” Chambers said in the letter to Pompeo. “Internal auditors serve as guardians of trust for their organizations. This is particularly true of public-sector auditors, for they hold a special place in demonstrating and defending the grandest virtues of society and of our noble profession.”
The IIA letter was copied to U.S. President Donald J. Trump, U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Michael A. McCarthy, as well as the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Liberia Caucus, Karen Bass and Donald Payne.
Headquartered in Lake Mary, Florida, The IIA is the internal audit profession’s most widely recognized advocate, educator, and provider of standards, guidance, and certifications. Established in 1941, the organization today serves more than 200,000 members from more than 170 countries and territories.