Ex- FDA’s Executives Bond under Threat

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A bail bond relied on to release four former executives of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) accused of facilitating the wrongful and illegal issuance of up to 60 Private Use Permits (PUP) valued at US$6million, may likely be set aside, if the court accepts the Prosecution’s request to do so.

The criminal appearance bond was tendered by Medicare Insurance Company on behalf of three of the four defendants to release them from jail to await their trial.

However, the Prosecution argued for the court to set aside the bond and allow the defendants to go back to jail or secure a new bond.
They also prayed the court to summon the company to justify its bond.

 Co-Defendants Moses Wogbeh, Benedict Sagbeh and Augustine B.M. Johnson were charged with economic sabotage.

At the Criminal Court ‘C’ Tuesday, March 25, an executive of the company, Togba Wesseh admitted that it was his company that secured the bond for the defendants.

Wesseh, also marketing manager of Medicare, explained that his company is duly registered with the government to serve as surety for people facing criminal charges.

When asked by defense team, whether or not the company met all requirements for the establishment of Insurance Company under the law? The Medicare Marketing manager replied, “Yes.”

“We have a tax clearance Certificate, bank guarantee, Central Bank of Liberia insurance licenses among others.”

Asked to explain what tax clearance certificate, insurance licenses, bank guarantee mean?

Wesseh replied,” the tax clearance proves that we have met all of the financial requirements under the law to venture into business. The licensed gives us the right to file criminal appearance bond to serve as a surety.”

When asked whether he would assure at all time the presence of the defendants if they were called upon by the Court? Wesseh responded, “Yes, we will make sure that they appear whenever they are needed by the Court.”

In the indictment issued through the Sixth Judicial Circuit, Criminal Assizes, the Government of Liberia stated that the former managing director, along with seven others did knowingly conspire to defraud the Government of Liberia of revenue, by facilitating the wrongful and illegal issuance of up to 61 private use permits (PUPs) that authorized commercial logging operations on nearly 2.5 million hectares of land area of Liberia. The overall loss incurred by the Government of Liberia amounted to over US$ 6 million, the indictment stated.
“That because of defendants blatant abuse of their offices and violation of the several provisions of the National Forestry Reform Law (NFRL)(2006) and the Community Rights Law(2009), the Private Prosecutrix (FDA),yea the Government of Liberia has suffered a loss in revenue of over US$6,000,000 (United States Dollars Six Million ) which would have been generated from land rental had the Permits been issued under the Community Rights Law, and amounts generated by holders of PUPs under fraudulent and fictitious deeds, thereby defrauding the Private Prosecutrix and the Government and people of Liberia, and knowingly created the opportunity for PUP holders to defraud the Government and people of Liberia.
The Grand Jurors for the County of Montserrado, Republic of Liberia, in the indictment accused Moses Wogbeh and others of knowingly and recklessly conspiring and facilitating the issuance of 56 private use permits to several logging companies.
“That between April 2010 up to and including December 2011, the Co-Defendants Moses Wogbeh, Benedict Sagbeh, John Kantor, Torwan Yantay and Augustine B.M. Johnson knowingly, recklessly, and purposefully conspired and facilitated the issuance of, and caused to be issued, up to Fifty Six (56) Private Use Permits (licenses),over community-deeded forest lands, which are indicative of Community Forest Land that by definition are governed and regulated by the Community Rights Law (2009), knowing fully well that private use permits (PUPs) should only be issued to private land owners or their privies, in contravention of Sections 5.6(d) and 18.9(b) of the National Forestry Reform Law (2006), and 2.3(b)of the Community Rights Law(2009),thereby depriving communities of Revenue and the Government of Liberia of land rental which it would have been entitled to, had the license been issued under the Community Rights Law(2009)”, the indictment issued during the February AD 2014 term of court stated.
The indictment further stated that in contravention of Section 5.6(d)(v) of the National Forestry Reform Law(NFRL)(2006)which requires that a Private Use Permit (PUP) is issued only if the applicant “has complied with all legal requirements for Environmental Impact Assessments, Co-Defendants Moses Wogbeh, John Kantor, Torwan Yantay, Benedict Sagbeh, clothed with the authority of ensuring that all Forest Resources and PUP’s are issued consistent with law, and with the authority to issue Private Use Permits, knowingly, recklessly, and purposefully recommended the issuance of, facilitated the issuance of, and did issue or cause to be issued,61 (PUPs) without the applicants first satisfying the legal requirements for Environmental Impact Assessment in contravention of Sections 5.6(d)(v) and 18.9(b)of the National Forestry Reform Law(2006) .

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