In the ongoing investigation into the Global Witness (GW) report which alleged that Sable Mining bribed public officials, the Liberian government, through its Special Presidential Task Force (SPTF), has disclosed that it has issued indictment for the former chairman of Liberia’s National Investment Commission (NIC), Dr. Richard Tolbert, as well as a British and a South African national.
The other two—Andrew S. Groves and Klaus Piprek, who are presently out of Liberia’s legal jurisdiction, are associates of Sable Mining, a British firm at the center of the GW allegations.
The latest indictment brings the number to eight persons and institutions that are now set to be tried before the Criminal Court in Liberia. However, more indictments might follow.
Disclosing news of the new indictment, the Chairman of the SPTF, Cllr J. Fonati Koffa, stated: “Earlier into her administration when the President [Ellen Johnson Sirleaf] announced that Liberia was opened for business what she didn’t announce was Liberia was up for sale.”
Cllr. Koffa, who is the Minister of State Without Portfolio (With New Assignments) in the Office of the President, disclosed that so far in their investigation, what they are now “uncovering is the largest conspiracy to steal the mineral resources of this country in our lifetime.”
He further disclosed that on Wednesday night, the Grand Jury indicted the above individuals and they are now in the process of arresting them for economic crimes and other crimes as per the indictment.
He added: “We are now moving into the process of requesting and working with Interpol to issue an arrest warrant for the two individuals-Groves and Piprek, who are outside the jurisdiction of Liberia, to be arrested and brought to this jurisdiction wherever they can be found.”
Cllr. Koffa clarified that a second British national, Phillippe H. Edmonds, Chair of Sable Mining, of London, has presently been found to be “an unindicted co-conspirator.” However, he stated that as they obtain further pieces of evidence, Edmonds’ status in the ongoing investigation might change.
Also speaking, Cllr. Daku Mulbah, Montserrado County Attorney and Chief Prosecutor on the SPTF, stated that they are determined to carry out the vision of the President with full force and effect in the current case.
For those who might have felt that their taskforce was another one of the past, he said: “As you can see now, in addition to the first set of indictees, you have just heard that three other persons have been added to that number. It should tell you the seriousness of this taskforce.”
Cllr. Mulbah said the three new indictees are part of a group of persons who, one way or the other, are implicated in the GW report and that their investigation has revealed that those individuals are culpable.
The current court case which he likened to a fight, he said, must be carried to its logical conclusion and that those who might think it will be too long should bear in mind that it is a judicial matter, and that investigation is also a process. “It doesn’t do us well if we go and indict a person and we can’t be able to get the needed conviction because we never had the pieces of evidence to support our indictment. We are not prepared to do that.”
He emphasized that Liberians can be hopeful that anyone, it doesn’t matter where they are from; once they have committed a crime in Liberia, they will be made to face the Liberian law. “This is a fight that we must win and we will win,” the SPTF Chief Prosecutor stressed.
Corroborating what Cllr. Koffa had said earlier about their investigation unraveling a large conspiracy to steal the mineral resources of this country, Cllr Mulbah disclosed: “It is only a tip of the iceberg that the GW report gave us. We are now seeing that there are others, who may not have been mentioned in that report but our investigators are unearthing names that you may not have heard before.”
Also making remarks, Cllr. James N. Verdier, Jr., Executive Chairman of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), said his LACC along with other members of the SPTF has assumed “full jurisdiction to prosecute” the case in court based on the “Letter of Patent” that was issued to Cllr. Koffa by Justice Minister Fredrick Cherue.
It had been reported that when President Sirleaf constituted the taskforce, which included the Ministry of State, the LACC and the Ministry of Justice, she gave them prosecutorial power.
However, Liberians were left dismayed when Minister Koffa, who is the head of the SPTF announced on Thursday, June 2, that he has handed the prosecutorial role of the SPTF over to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).
But late Wednesday, June 8, evening reports surfaced that Justice Minister Frederick Cherue had written Cllr. Koffa and re-assigned the prosecution of persons indicted by his Task Force.
It is reported that Justice Minister Cherue, in a letter to Cllr. Koffa dated June 6, advised his colleague Minister to “proceed to investigate and prosecute those found to be criminally responsible for the allegations contained in the Global Witness Report.”
The Justice Minister further granted Cllr. Koffa the “Letter of Patent” required by law to serve as a Special Prosecutor for the Global Witness case.
Cllr. Verdier disclosed Thursday that the Justice Minister, who is also the Attorney General of Liberia, along with the Solicitor General (Betty L. Blamo) were recusing themselves from the case because of their “association or past association with institutions and individuals involved in this investigation.”