— House Special Investigative Committee Reports
Longstanding public perception of gross corruption and waste associated with the Executive Mansion renovation project appears to have strong elements of truth, given revelations by the House of Representatives Special Investigative Committee, whose recent probe into the matter confirmed that, despite enormous sums of money (US$33,492,101) spent on the renovation project over a 13-year period, the Executive Mansion remains in a state of disuse.
In a report to the House Plenary on Wednesday, September 18, 2019 during the 10th day Special Sitting, the House Special Committee, appointed to investigate the renovation of the Executive Mansion, said to date, 14 years after the fire incident which occurred on July 26, 2006, the Executive Mansion remains unusable. The renovation is incomplete and artifacts of historic significance preserved at the Executive Mansion before and after the armed conflict, have not been found and are yet to be accounted for.
The 7-man Special Committee chaired by Grand Gedeh County District #2 Representative George S. Boley, in its report, said the Executive Mansion’s renovation project is a complex web of apparent collusion by individual actors at practically all levels of governance. The report indicated that several companies, contractors and individuals associated with the ongoing renovation are yet to be identified.
Other members of the Committee are representatives Jimmy Smith, J. Fonati Koffa, Robert F. Womba, Rosana Schaack, Acarous Gray and Tibelrosa Tarponweh.
The House of Representatives Special Investigative Committee said, “No one has been held accountable for his or her conduct in the misapplication of the national resources expended, to date for the 13-year-old ongoing project of the Executive Mansion.”
Former Special Presidential Task Force’s Findings
The Committee said that it obtained a report from a Special Presidential Task Force established by former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to investigate the Executive Mansion’s renovation, and that the report was submitted on June 21, 2017. Findings and recommendations of the report are yet to be addressed.
Between April 2011 and January 2015, a total of US$24,788,101.18 was expended to repair the Executive Mansion. Several contractors, subcontractors and individuals were involved. A General Auditing Commission (GAC) report for the period of July 1, 2006 through December 31, 2015 reveals that the Executive Mansion’s renovation contract was awarded in three phases.
Phase 1 Contract was for the fourth floor only, where the fire took place. Phase 2 contract was for the renovation of the seventh and other floors unaffected by the fire; Phase 3 contract was to undo all the renovation work previously done due to the use of substandard materials by the first contractor, CNQC, a Chinese construction firm.
The Special Committee noted that CNQC Quinlian (LIB) was the first major contractor hired to renovate the Executive Mansion, despite the fact that the company had no extensive work experience in Liberia. Other contractors included Milton & Richards, Pan African Engineering Group, Cape Resources and Vax.
The report further said the CNQC contract was terminated July 1, 2015 as the materials used to renovate the mansion were grossly substandard. “Most of everyone associated with the first and second CNQC contract did not do justice to the government as per the findings of the report of the Special Presidential Task Force established by President Sirleaf. Those companies are yet to account for their respective roles in the renovation of the Executive Mansion.
The report detailed instances of the dereliction of duty and apparent collusion between the CNQC and individual actors associated with the Executive Mansion’s renovation through December 2015, the House Special Committee reported.
AIRRET Vs Ecobank Liberia
The Special Committee said after meeting with Solicitor General Syrenius Cephus and Cllr. Arthur Johnson of the Assets Investigation, Restitution and Recovery Team (AIRRET), it has realized that the government is planning to file a lawsuit against the management of Ecobank Liberia to recover the US$4,378,245.49 performance bond (indemnity bond) in relation to the Executive Mansion’s renovation Ecobank Liberia issued, as required on behalf of CNQC.
“No one has been held accountable for his or her conduct in the misapplication of the national resources expended, to date for the 13-year old ongoing renovation project of the Executive Mansion,” the Committee report said.
It added, “Since the termination of the CNQC renovation contract in 2015, other contractors continue to work on the renovation of the Executive Mansion, but the Committee has not had the time to know and contact individuals and contractors involved with the ongoing renovation of the Executive Mansion.”
The Committee on the Renovation of the Executive Mansion requested for an additional three months to continue its probe of contractors’ performance as of 2015 and the ongoing renovation, and that the House of Representatives provides US$30,000 to the Committee to facilitate its investigation.