A legal disagreement as to whether or not the government should have access to the United States dollar-accounts of indicted Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County and the Sherman and Sherman Law Firm was yesterday put to rest after Criminal Court ‘C’ issued a 72-hour ultimatum to eight banking institutions to produce Sen. Sherman’s bank statements.
The statements cover from January 1 to September 30, 2010, at which time the corruption watchdog Global Witness alleged in its May 2016 report that over US$950,000 in bribes and other suspicious payments were transferred from said accounts to top government officials on behalf UK mining firm Sable Mining through Sen. Sherman.
Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay’s action came immediately after he denied Sherman’s contention for the court not to serve a Writ of ‘Subpoena Duces Tecum’ on the banking institutions to produce his financial statements, along with those of the law firm.
The banking institutions include Afriland Bank, Access bank, International Bank (now GN Bank), United Bank for Africa, Global Bank, Liberia Bank for Development and Investment, Guaranty Trust Bank and Ecobank.
The writ (or subpoena for production of evidence) is a court summons ordering the recipient to appear before the court and produce documents or other tangible evidence for use in a trial.
Before yesterday’s judgment, state lawyers argued that they cannot produce evidence on grounds that Sherman and his law firm refused to turn over their bank accounts, which the defendants used to transfer the money to commit the alleged bribery, despite the judgment from Criminal Court A (where they were indicted) for them to do so.
They were indicted along with former House Speaker and Bomi County Representative Alex Tyler who had earlier requested prosecution to also produce evidence expected to be used against him when the trial commences. However, state lawyers claimed they cannot release the documents without the bank statements.
Global Witness further alleged that the money received from Sable’s representatives was meant as inducement to create a loophole in the Public Procurement and Concessions Law, which would have increased the mining company’s chances for securing the coveted Wologizi Mountain’s iron ore concession without submitting to a competitive bid.
Senator Sherman, together with Rep. Tyler, former Lands, Mines and Energy Minister Ernest C.B. Jones, Christopher Onanuga and Sable Mining, a UK based company, were indicted for the commission of bribery, criminal conspiracy, solicitation and facilitation and economic sabotage.