Prosecutors have objected to the second bond of US$92,000 secured by Sky International Insurance Company as bond for suspended National Housing Authority (NHA) Managing Director Duannah Siryon and three other senior members of the management team, arguing that it is “grossly insufficient” and are demanding US$184,000 instead.
They argued in a letter to Magistrate Kennedy Peabody of Monrovia City Court that the actual amount of the bond should be US$184,000, meaning the bond should double the amount and that the US$92,000 was far less than the money sued for.
Siryon, together with Ambassador Augustine Weah, Isaac Roberts, and Tugbeh C. Tugbeh, was charged with multiple crimes that ranged from theft of property, economic sabotage, bribery, criminal conspiracy, and criminal solicitation for allegedly extorting US$92,000 from a man identified as Emmanuel Tapsoba, former coordinator for a Burkina Faso company called GHLPAZ-IMMO, which has been in the country to construct over 5,000 housing units along the Roberts International Airport (RIA) highway.
The prosecutors’ letter to Peabody said: “As expressly provided for a felony of the first degree and/or second degree, the commission of which has resulted for the defendants an amount double the gain realized by the defendants, therefore, the bond should be US$184, 000.”
It also revealed that Sky International Insurance Company failed and neglected to show evidence of payment of the annual operating levy, valid Liberia Revenue Authority payment receipt and audited financial statement as proofs of good standing with the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) in keeping with regulation NO. CBL/ RSD/005/2012 particular section 20.0 and 34.0.
“Wherefore, it is the prayer of the prosecution that the defendants’ bond be set aside, and have them re-arrested and detained until and unless a valid bond as required by law is perfected by the defendants,” the letter read.
In response, the defense’s lead lawyer Jonathan Massasquoi said Sub-Chapter ‘F’ of the New Penal Law that provides for the crime of economic sabotage approved July 31, 1989, and published September 22, “is unconstitutional in so far as it requires an accused to post a cash bond in the amount equivalent to the amount charged.”
Massaquoi also argued that Article 21 (D) (l) and (ll) of the 1986 Constitution prohibit excessive bail to be imposed on an accused.
It further states that, “All accused persons shall be bailable upon their personal recognizance or by sufficient sureties, depending upon the gravity of the charge, unless charged for capital offenses or grave offenses as defined by law,” and (ii) provides that “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor excessive punishment inflicted.”
On the argument against Sky International Insurance Company not being in good financial standing with the CBL, Massaquoi said that was completely misleading information from the prosecutors.
“The company has legally qualified sureties with assets in the amount of over US$2.5million and over LD$306,000,000.”
“This is a fishing expedition because the nature of the crime charged is around US$92,000, which by law makes it sufficient to secure the bond for the defendants,” Massaquoi further argued.
There is no date set yet to the hearing and as to whether or not the bond must be set-aside and the defendants re-arrested.
It may be recalled that during the defendants’ first appearance in the Monrovia City Court, the Accident & Casualty Insurance Company (ACICO), one of the most reliable insurance companies in the country, secured a US$184,000 bond in order to release them from detention; unfortunately, that bond was rejected by Magistrate Peabody on grounds that he needed enough time to peruse it.
Despite Peabody’s refusal, a member of the prosecution, Kpoto Gizzie, commented that “a bond is a matter of right under the Constitution and the state, which is not interested in putting the suspects behind bars and did not interpose any objection.”
Surprisingly, ACICO that posted the US$184,000 bond withdrew it, a withdrawal that led the defense lawyers to secure another bond in the amount of US$92,000 from the Sky International Insurance Company.
Before the second bond, a Writ of Mandamus was filed to Chamber Justice Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh of the Supreme Court against the refusal of Magistrate Peabody to approve the bond, in order to secure the release of the defendants from jail.
In that request, Cllr. Massaquoi argued that the economic sabotage status in so far as it relates to securing the bond, denied his clients of their constitutional rights to bail and deprived them of their constitutional rights to equal protection of the law.
They also prayed Justice Yuoh to declare the act unconstitutional and because of the issue raised, Justice Yuoh decided to send the matter back to the Monrovia City Court with a mandate for Peabody to proceed accordingly as provided by the law.
It was based on Justice Yuoh’s order that the prosecutors have now resolved to challenge the bond secured on behalf of the defendants by the Sky International Insurance Company.