A US$5million libel lawsuit filed against Finance Minister Amara Konneh last Tuesday opened at the Civil Law Court, at the Temple of Justice.
The libel suit was brought against Minister Konneh by Eric Nagbe, who was the audit director of the Large Tax Payer Division of the Ministry.
His lawyers are seeking the court’s intervention to hold Konneh liable in the tune of US$5million for damages he caused to their client’s character and reputation.
Nagbe in his testimony yesterday alleged that in 2012, Minister Konneh, during a press conference publicly accused him and two members of his staff of receiving US$30,000 to reduce three companies’ taxes owed the government.
He quickly pointed out that he was surprised the allegation, because they had not conducted an audit of the three companies, when he was accused of bribery.
Testifying further, the former audit director told the court that Minister Konneh did not stop there; instead, he forwarded him to the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC) for prosecution.
Before sending him to the LACC, Witness Nagbe said, he was investigated by the Ministry’s investigation board, the Internal Affairs Division (IAD).
He further alleged that the investigation freed him from the allegation that was brought against him.
“The Investigation recommended that Minister Konneh should reinstate me to my previous position.”
Instead of reinstating him, Nagbe alleged, Minster Konneh forwarded him to the LACC that also cleared him of similar allegation.
Based on the recommendation, the former audit director said, Konneh chose to only reinstate the two staffs that were accused long with him, leaving him out.
Besides, Nagbe told the court that Konneh went to the United States Embassy in Monrovia, requesting them not to allow him, Nagbe to leave the country.
“Before that information I had already received a visa from the Embassy to spend my vacation in the USA. But, I did not travel until I was cleared by the IAD,” Nagbe claimed.
“Not knowing that Minister Konneh had contacted the US Authorities to revoke my visa, I boarded Air France for the USA,” he added.
According to him, after he arrived at the airport in the USA, he was denied entering that country.
“When I showed my passport for stamping, it was rejected and the US authorities told me that my visa had been cancelled by their Embassy in Monrovia,” he added.
“I did not believe it, because I had been cleared by the investigation board. And I don’t have any criminal record with the US authorities,” Nagbe stated.
He continued, “I was later advised by the Homeland Security and the Immigration officers at the airport to wait for the next available flight. Since the airplane was not on time, I was imprisoned at the airport.”
“This was the most horrible experienced of my life, because I could not sleep neither eat until the flight arrived, after an hour of imprisonment,” he narrated his misfortunate to the court.
When the plane arrived, he boarded it and he was taken to Paris, the capital of France.
“At the airport in Paris, I was also jailed for another four hours, before I was sent back to Liberia,” Nagbe further told the court.
According to him, when he returned to Liberia, he contacted his lawyers, who wrote the Embassy to inquire about the cancellation of his visa.
“It was the visa section of the Embassy that informed me that Minister Konneh had earlier contacted their Ambassador to have my visa cancelled,” he said.
Further quoting the section, Nagbe alleged,
“They apologized to me and told me that it was Minister Konneh, who told them to cancel my visa, because I was undergoing criminal investigation for a bribery allegation.”