The Chief Executive Officer of Aminata & Sons, Siaka Turay, on Thursday, September 22 was arraigned before Criminal Court ‘C’ to answer to charges levied against him by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).
At the hearing Turay stood attentively for an hour as the charges against him were read and when asked afterwards, he pleaded: “I am not guilty.”
Turay’s Aminata & Sons, Inc. was accused, along with former Director, Division of Price Analysis and Marketing/Focus person of the Japanese Oil Grant at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Steve Flahnpaye; former Managing Director and Deputy Managing Director for
Operations and implementing agent person for the Japanese Oil Grant at the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), T. Nelson Williams; and Aaron J. Wheagar.
Their charges ranged from economic sabotage, misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy and facilitation and violation of required Public Procurement and Concession Commission Act’s (PPCC) procedures and processes, of which Turay said he has no knowledge.
LACC, however, claimed that Turay was part of the syndicate that misrepresented and misled concessionary pricing for the distribution and sale of the non-profit petroleum products, and they chose not to reflect that the donated items were gifts from the government of Japan to Liberia.
For Aminata & Sons, Inc., the court records allege the petroleum entity and LPRC in 2011 entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) where the company was to make a deduction from the pump price of US$0.90 per gallon of gasoline and US$0.96 per gallon of diesel.
It meant they were to sell a gallon of gasoline for US$3.47 and a gallon of diesel for US$3.59.
But, the LACC claimed that Turay and the other defendants ignored the agreement and proceeded to sell a gallon of gasoline for US$4.40 and a gallon of diesel for US$4.55, which generated US$5,764,110.84.
The LACC claimed that Turay and his co-defendants deposited US$3,908,387.25 into the oil grant account opened at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), instead of the US$5,764,110.84, leaving a difference of US$1,806,811.14 unaccounted for.
The document further alleged that MOC and LPRC illegally selected Aminata & Sons as the sole distributor and seller of the products without going through a competitive bidding process and other procedures provided for under the PPCC Act.
LACC also alleged that the act was discovered during an investigation into the handling of the oil deal by MOC, LPRC and Aminata.
However, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), the prosecuting arm of the government, backed off from the case, claiming that the LACC did not have overwhelming evidence to convict any of the defendants.
In the absence of MOJ, LACC cannot prosecute any alleged corruption cases because the Act that created it did not give it authority to do so.
The case resumes on Tuesday, September 27, when LACC is expected to produce evidence(s) against Turay.