By Alvin Worzi
The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has invited five past and present officials of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) regarding the Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI) loan scheme.
The ministry named Amos Z. Korkor, coordinator of the PSDI; Romell Watson, former Assistant Minister for Administration; William Mansfield, director of the Public Administration Sector, Budget Planning; Theophilus Addy, Assistant Minister for Regional and Sectoral Planning; and Zianab K. Dukuly, assistant director of Budget and Finance and an immediate relative of former MFDP Minister Amara M. Konneh.
“This is the initial step in this investigation, so the ministry is requesting the implicated officials who are of interest and who allegedly received various amounts under the PSDI program to report to the ministry on Friday, June 30, at 10 a. m. for a conference,” the ministry said.
The PSDI is a project established in 2014 at the MFDP to provide loans to Liberian-owned small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The process would have created jobs and accelerated the participation of Liberian-owned businesses in the economy.
The ministry said it is now reviewing the final audit report to determine the culpability of each official named in the loan saga.
Meanwhile, an earlier leaked draft audit report alleged that from 2014 to 2016, the project disbursed US$2,274,400 to 46 borrowers, and that Dr. James F. Kollie, former Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs at the MFDP, signed all the loan approvals.
Out of the forty-six (46) borrowers, only Garson Incorporated, located on 11th Street, Sinkor, believed to be owned by Dr. James Kollie, paid its obligation of US$150,000 plus US$10,500 interest, amounting to a total repayment of US$160,500. Garson Incorporated’s account statement revealed that the institution has only a US$11 obligation outstanding.
24 borrowers allegedly received cash loans amounting to US$965,400 but are yet to make any repayment as per the arrangement. An additional 12 businesses received US$545,700, but none could be located anywhere in Liberia, and the telephone contacts of the individuals who owned these businesses were permanently switched off.
The draft audit report revealed that in May 2014, MFDP entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) to establish an account (GE Fund) through which the borrowers would receive their loans.
The draft report also established that there was an MOU reached between MFDP and LBDI to run the PSDI loan activities together; however, customers’ evaluation/vetting were done by the MFDP.
However, the evaluation/vetting conducted by MFDP-PSDI desk provided many loopholes for default, the draft audit said, adding that loans were disbursed to either businesses owned by MFDP staff, or businesses with which they had close connections.