-Former Speaker Alex Tyler claims
The third witness for the defense in the ongoing Global Witness US$950,000 alleged bribery case that involved several present and past public officials on Tuesday, July 9, 2019, told Criminal Court ‘C’ in Monrovia that he did not receive any US$75,000 as a bribe from Grand Cape Mount County Senator, Cllr. Varney Sherman, for the passage of the amended Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) Act of 2005, when he served as speaker of the 53rd Legislature in 2010.
The House of Senate and the House Representatives approved the controversial law on September 16, 2010, and subsequently published it on September 18, 2010.
But prosecution claimed that Cllr. Sherman was then a lawyer for Sable Mining, a UK Mining Company which provide him over US$950,000 to convince lawmakers to change Section 75 of the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) laws containing the provision for the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy to have the power to declare a concession area a non-bidding area “so as to create easy access for the awarding of the Wologisi Mountain in Lofa County to Sable Mining.”
In his testimony, the third witness, Alex Tyler, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, denied receiving any bribe to change to law, describing the accusation as baseless, unfounded and have no iota of truth.
“This is a blatant and calculated lie. I did not receive any money from Cllr. Sherman or any other person for that matter for the passage or changing of the any law,” Tyler was heard screaming in open court on Tuesday.
However, prosecution had claimed that there were email exchanges between Cllr. Sherman and executives of Sable Mining, naming Henie Van Neikerk and Klaus Piprek, of which Neikerk informed Piprek that Tyler demanded US$250,000 for the act to pass through the senate.
The prosecution had dropped charges against Van Neikerk and Piprek, meaning that they would not testify in the case anymore.
As of the accusation, the former Speaker again claimed it was unfounded and a blatant lie, because I do not know Van Neikerk and Piprek, and I never met them. I never interacted with them, or had any discussion with Cllr. Sherman concerning the passage of the law.”
Tyler: “Until the publication of the Global Witness Report, I did not know the existence of Sable Mining least to say I interacted with its officials.”
On the issue of demanding US$250,000, Tyler (defense witness) explained that to say that he demanded that money to pass the law through the Senate appears to him that the prosecution did not understand the inner working of the Legislature.
Tyler said that he was never a member of the Senate or the presiding officer of that august body.
”There is the president of the Senate, who is the Vice President of the country, and also presides over that body. In his or her absence, as the case may be, the President Pro Tempore or temporary presiding officer takes charge of the working of the Senate.
“So how can I demand money to pass a law through the Senate, when I don’t control that body of elders?” Tyler asked.
Further, Tyler said that on August 5, 2010, then President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wrote a communication in which she requested from the lawmakers to amend the PPCC Act of 2005.
According to Tyler, when he received the Sirleaf’s communication, he allowed it to be read during one of their plenary sessions and, later, some of the lawmakers agreed to have it submitted to Representative Edwin Melvin Snowe, who was then chair on concession, for review and passage by the House.
“This was done without any change and so we forwarded the document to the Senate for concurrence. They returned it to us and it was passed. Later we submitted the document to then President Sirleaf, who affixed her signature on it for publication,” Tyler said.
Meanwhile, the defense team request was President Sirleaf to testify had been denied the court.