Access Bank, one of the eight (8) commercial banking institutions subpoenaed (ordered) by Criminal Court ‘C’ to make available United States dollar accounts of indicted Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County, has replied the court that it does not have any bank accounts for Sherman.
Access Bank’s reaction comes at the close of a 72 hours ultimatum to the bank by Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay since Thursday, December 22, to produce Sen. Sherman’s bank statement.
Other subpoenaed entities included Ecobank, Afriland First Bank, International Bank Liberia and United Bank for Africa (UBA) have so far complied with the court’s mandate by producing Sherman’s personal bank records and those of the Sherman and Sherman Law Firm.
Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI), Global Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank (GT Bank) have yet to say whether or not they were in possession of Cllr. Sherman’s account and that of his law firm.
Meanwhile, the actual amounts that Sherman has with those banks have not been disclosed by the court on ground that the matter was pending, to be determined on the basis of merit.
For LBDI, Global and GTbank, a source within the judiciary hinted the Daily Observer that those commercial institutions were the latest to be subpoenaed, which makes it difficult for them to comply with the 72-hours ultimatum.
“Some of them were served with the documents on Tuesday, December 27, and Wednesday December 28 respectively. This is why they have not replied to the mandate,” the source clarified. “It is not that they want to disobey the court order, but could we not hand out the order to the banks because of the festive season.”
The statements covered from January to September 30, 2010, during which time the Global Witness alleged in its report that over US$950,000 in bribes and other suspicious payments were transferred from said accounts to top government officials including former Speaker Alex Tyler by UK mining firm, Sable Mining through Sherman, who was then providing legal services to that company.
The government has repeatedly argued that those documents were some of their major pieces of evidence against the defendants, and without them, they (prosecutors) would never proceed with the merit of the allegation.
Global Witness further alleged that the money received from Sable’s representatives was meant to create a loophole in the Public Procurement and Concessions Law, which would have increased the mining company’s chances for securing an iron ore concession for the Wologizi Mountain in Lofa County, without submitting to a competitive bid.
It is yet to be established as to whether or not the defendants actually awarded Wologizi’s iron ore to Sable as had been claimed by the government, although Sherman and his co-defendants continued to deny the allegation.
Besides the personal bank accounts of Cllr. Sherman, others whose United States dollar bank statements are expected to be subpoenaed include Sherman & Sherman Inc., Sable Mining, Western Cluster, Delta Mining Consolidated (Pty) Limited and West Africa Exploration.
Other individual bank accounts to be probed include Senator Morris Saytumah of Bomi County; Sumo Kupee, Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), former Grand Kru Senator, Cletus Wortoson; Former Speaker J. Alex Tyler; Rep. Henry Fahnbulleh, as well as the Chairman of the
Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC), Willie Belleh, and former National Investment Commission (NIC) Chairman, Richard Tolbert.