With the dismissal of Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigative report against former Commerce Minister Miatta Beysolow, which served as the basis for her indictment, several others who were indicted along with her may likely escape prosecution.
This stems from their move to challenge the document that was recently described as “grossly deceptive and erroneous,” by Judge Emery Paye of Criminal Court ‘C,’ who presides over the matter.
T. Nelson Williams, former Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), and Aminata & Sons, a petroleum product dealer, are the ones legally pushing for Judge Paye to drop similar charges against them.
Williams and Aminata & Sons have filed requests for separate trials, meaning that they should not be tried together as co-defendants.
Judge Paye is yet to decide the merits and demerits of the pair’s separate requests.
The question that remains to be answered is whether or not Judge Paye would accept to drop the indictment against them, as he did in the case of Beysolow.
Others include Aaron Wheagar, former Managing Director for Operations (LPRC) and Steve Flahn-Paye, former Director for Price Analysis and Marketing at the Ministry of Commerce.
They were charged with economic sabotage, misapplication of entrusted property, criminal facilitation and conspiracy.
According to the LACC, in August 2011, the defendants executed a criminal empire by handpicking Aminata & Sons without a competitive bid process to distribute and sell a donated consignment of Japanese petroleum products in violation of the Public Procurement Concession
Commission (PPCC) Act, of which they allegedly misapplied over US$5million.
For Williams, the LACC claimed that he and Wheagar, who was also the implementing agent for the monetization of Japanese Oil Grant, created the opportunity and allegedly stole over US$5milion from the distribution and sale of the products.
When Judge Paye dropped charges against Beysolow, he emphasized that the LACC did not exercise enough care in handling its own reports, stressing that he discovered in said reports what he considered “procedural defective.”
Besides, discovering that the report was defective, the Criminal Court Judge insisted that the absence of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), the prosecuting arm of government, from the case was a serious “missing link” to prosecute the matter.
Prior to dismissing his indictment, Cllr. Jerome Verdier, chairman of LACC, strongly warned, “If for any reason the MOJ showed its inability to handle corruption cases, we would take further decisions.”
At that time Verdier did not explain what further decisions his Commission was going to take, if the Ministry delayed to prosecute any of the accused.