Without taking the witness stand to exonerate herself from the allegation that she took part in the unauthorized sale of the Japanese oil grant, which cost government over US$5million in loses, Judge Emery Paye of Criminal Court ‘C’, yesterday dismissed the charges against former Commerce Minister Miatta Beysolow.
Judge Paye’s action means that the government doesn’t have any more claim against the former minister regarding her role in the sale of the oil grant the proceeds of which were intended to help in the socio-economic development of the country but which government claimed were diverted.
Minister Beysolow’s lawyers had earlier argued that although she served as minister during the oil sale, she was not involved in the sale.
It was even alleged that the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and the General Auditing Commission (GAC) only recommended to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to take administrative action against Beysolow for not doing enough to supervise the sale of the oil.
Relying upon those documents from the two anti-graft institutions, Judge Paye ruled that there is no evidence to allow former Minister Beysolow to be prosecuted in his court, thereby accepting the request to drop the charges against her.
He further stated that the indictment failed to link her as one of the facilitators to the crime.
Minister Beysolow, together with T. Nelson Williams, Jr., former Managing Director of Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC); Aaron Wheagar, former Managing Director for operations at the LPRC; Steve Flahn-Paye, Commerce Ministry’s Director for Price Analysis and Marketing; and Aminata and Sons, Inc., were jointly indicted by the LACC.
LACC initially claimed that the Minister in August 2011 personally executed the syndicate along with the co-defendants by handpicking Aminata & Sons, a wholesale and retail petrol dealer, without a competitive bid process, to distribute and sell the Japanese petroleum products, in violation of the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) Act. They misapplied over US $5million from the sale of the products, LACC claimed.
However, Beysolow’s lawyers in counter argument said after conducting an investigation into the matter, the General Auditing Commission (GAC) cleared their client of participating in the sale of the oil grant.
Besides the GAC investigation, the lawyers said that LACC’s internal investigation also cleared Beysolow of any involvement in the arrangement and sale of the products.
According to the lawyers, both the LACC and GAC recommended to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to take administrative action against Minister Beysolow for not doing much to supervise the sale of the donated oil grant from the Japanese Government.
Although the lawyers argued that Beysolow was serving as minister when the oil grant was donated to the government, she was not in the country when the other co-defendants entered into the agreement with Aminata & Sons to determine the selling price of the product.