The Judge of Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia has acquitted Aminata and Sons Incorporated from charges levied against its management by the Liberia Anti-Corruption.
In his judgment yesterday, Judge Emery Paye warned the anti-graft commission not to harass or intimidate Aminata and Sons, the petroleum company at the center of a US$5,787,134.01 scandal.
Judge Paye’s decision was to the total disbelief of lawyers of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), who shook their heads and looked up to the sky as though they were referencing God.
As part of his judgment, Judge Paye ordered his clerk to ensure that the bail bond secured by Aminata and Sons, which prevented Siaka Turay, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), from being jailed while the trial was ongoing, be returned to him immediately.
Although Judge Paye did not disclose the amount of the bond, he was able to order that it be returned without delay.
The LACC claimed the petroleum company duped government of US$5,787,134.01 unjustly accrued from the sale of the Japanese Oil Grant, a donation of the Government of Japan to Liberia for its economic and social development.
However, Paye said the LACC failed to produce oral and documentary evidence during the trial that would have convinced him to convict Turay.
“The defendant is not guilty of the commission of the crimes charged and those charges against Siaka Turay are ordered dismissed without further answering to them,” Judge Paye declared.
He continued: “Since prosecution did not prove its charges, no one should harass, molest, intimidate and extort anything from Turay except another private matter is raised,” the judge warned.
Paye’s judgment was marred with hours of delay as a result of electrical failure.
At the onset of the trial, Judge Paye dropped similar charges levied against former Commence Minister Miata Beysolow and T. Nelson Williams, Jr., former managing director of the Liberia petroleum Refining Company, whom the LACCC accused of facilitating Turay to dupe the government.
At that time, Judge Paye said his action was due to serious legal errors on the part of the LACC when they investigated the allegation that led to the indictment.
Moreover, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), the legal arm of government, withdrew from prosecuting the matter on grounds that there was no evidence to prosecute the defendants.
They also warned that doing so would mean wasting taxpayers’ money.
The LACC charged Turay with economic sabotage, misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy and facilitation, and violation of the required Public Procurement Concession and Commission (PPCC) procedures and processes that called for a competitive bidding.
In 2011, the Liberian government and the Japanese government executed an Exchange of Notes to which Japan donated 15,000 metric tons of petroleum products valued at US$13 million to Liberia to be sold at the gift element rate of 21.19 percent of the market price, and the proceeds used for the country’s economic and social development. It is alleged that Aminata and Sons sold the product at the then market price of US$4.22 and US$4.37 without the gift element.