-Court’s document discloses
A Court document obtained by the Daily Observer established that former Managing Director of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA), Ellen Corkurm, when she was indicted on multiple crimes that include economic sabotage by the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, hired the legal services of Solicitor General Cllr Saymah Syrenius Cephus, who is now pressing to prosecute her on the same matter.
It can be recalled that Corkrum clandestinely left Liberia with the help of some top security personnel that were serving in the erstwhile Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration.
Corkrum’s escape was precipitated by an indictment by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County in 2013 on charges of economic sabotage, criminal facilitation, conspiracy to defraud the government, and making unauthorized transfers of funds from government accounts.
She was indicted, along with a Liberian businessman, Musa Bility, then chairman of the Board of Directors of LAA; the Monrovia Diaspora Consulting, LLC, through Momar Dieng, a U.S. citizen; and the First International Bank; and all authorized representatives of the Airport Authority.
The First International Bank was indicted for allegedly conspiring with co-defendants of Corkrum, Melvin Johnson & Associates, to make an unauthorized transfer of funds in the amount of US$56,750 from the account of the Liberia Airport Authority when Corkrum was the Managing Director.
Corkrum was indicted, along with a Liberian businessman, Musa Bility, then chairman of the Board of Directors of LAA; the Monrovia Diaspora Consulting, LLC, through Momar Dieng, a U.S. citizen; and the First International Bank (FIB, now GN Bank); and the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI).
It can also be recalled that Cllr. Cephus, shortly after the Assistant Minister for Litigation at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh asked the Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice to drop the multiple charges against Corkrum and others, immediately, Cllr Cephus communicated with the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), re-ordering the LACC to investigate the case.
However, Cllr. Cephus is responsible for all legal matters, which places Cllr. Wesseh squarely under Cephus’ jurisdiction.
The document obtained by the Daily Observer, under the caption, “Notice of Additional Counsel” addressed to then Clerk of Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice and signed by Corkrum, reads: “Dear Madam/Mr. Clerk, Upon receipt of this notice, you will accordingly spread in the records of this Honorable Court, that Co-defendant Ellen Corkrum in the above entitled cause of action has hired the legal services of Counselor Sayma Syrenius Cephus of CEMAR Law Offices as additional counsel. And for so doing, this shall constitute your sufficient authority.”
But, the question remains, what went wrong between Cephus and Corkrum that led Cllr. Cephus to re-open the case file after knowing that he served as one of the counsels to Corkrum. Experts assert that, her former legal counsel and current Solicitor General of the Republic of Liberia, he should have recused himself
In his recent utterances by Cllr. Cephus, he claimed that he had obtained more evidences to re-open the case, even though the Sirleaf administration’s efforts to extradite Corkrum to Liberia to face prosecution did not materialize.
Corkrum returned to Liberia shortly after Cllr. Cephus was appointed and confirmed as solicitor general. Her return, Cephus boasted, was a result of many tactics to ensure that Corkrum came back to Liberia to face justice.
Corkrum was accused of transferring US$269,000 to a fictitious company, Diaspora Consulting, LLC and its CEO, Momar Dieng, with whom she reportedly attended the Kennedy Business School, Harvard University.
In Cephus’ justification to re-open the case, he argued in that, “after reviewing the court’s records in the case file, we discovered that you carried out a “pick and choose” exercise by selectively entering a nolle prosequi in favour of few defendants, who are your friends, to the detriment of other co-defendants and, for this reason, we are now reopening the entire case to get fresh evidence that you claimed was difficult to acquire due to the absence of Co-defendant Ellen Corkrum from the bailiwick of Liberia.”
The statement was part of a purported letter attributed to Cllr. Cephus, published in a local daily and openly directed at members of the Sirleaf administration who were handling the case.
However, a source hinted this paper that Cllr. Cephus and Corkrum rift started when she allegedly refused to pay Cephus his balance US$15,000 out of the US$25,000 Cephus charged Corkurm to serve as additional counsel to her case.
The source claimed that Corkrum paid Cephus US$10,000 and promised to pay the balance if she were to agree to come back home, which she did.
However, according to our source, Corkrum allegedly refused to settle her obligation with the solicitor general that necessitated her case being call to re-on, though, Cephus’s boss, Justice Minister Musa Dean, who himself previously served as one of one Corkrum’s counsels, claimed that he was not in the know about the initial dropping of the case and the subsequent communication with the LACC to re-open investigate into the matter.
Besides, Cllr. Cephus served as lawyer for codefendant LBDI and negotiated for the charges against the bank to be dropped, provided that they would serve as witness, if the matter were to resume, which agreement was entered into by Cllr. Cephus and the government then.
However, Cllr. Cephus is now recommending the opening of the case against the LBDI, who hired him as legal counsel to represent their interest, and has gone to the extent of issuing a writ against the banks authorities to prevent them from leaving the country.