Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County on Monday, July 1, told Criminal Court ‘C’ that he and others accused (present and past public officials) being tried for economic sabotage based on the Global Witness’ US$950,000 bribery report were wrongfully and illegally charged’
Sherman’s (himself a lawyer,) statement was in response to charges that he allegedly received over US$900,000 to bribe government officials including former Speaker Alex Tyler to insert section 75 in the Amendment and Reinstatement of the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) Act of 2005 for the purpose of allowing non-bidding for Liberia Mineral Resources, instead of competitive bidding and, this was to facilitate Sable Mining’s acquisition of a concession for the exploitation of iron ore deposits of Wologizi mountain in Lofa County without a bidding process as claimed by the Global Witness.
At the time, Sherman was Sable Mining’s lawyer, when the special Presidential Taskforce setup by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf charged him for committing the act. Sherman denied the accusation but, said Global Witness and members of the taskforce admitted that Sable Mining came to Liberia in February, 2010.
“The PPCC Regulation #002 and the Fui Tsikata, a Ghanaian lawyer and mineral expert’s report showed the incompatibility between the 2000 mineral and mining Law, the 2005 PPCC Act,” Sherman told the court, adding, “that was long before Sable Mining came into the country. Global witness said the Sable Mining gave me money to bribe Liberian government officials in April, May and June of 2010 for passage of a law that had been proposed and drafted in 2007, 2008 and 2009”.
Sherman also testified that his accusation was supported by the PPCC Annual report for the years claiming, “President Sirleaf and the Taskforce believed the Global Witness report”
The Sable lawyer added, “We did not care to know the truth of the matter, because an inquiry from anybody in a senior position at the PPCC or the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy would have confirmed that the allegations were blatant lies and in the words of President Sirleaf, herself during the Aljazeera interview said we were wrongfully and illegally charged.”
According to Sherman, when Sirleaf took over as president in 2006, she ordered a review of all laws enacted and all contractual agreements passed into law by then government of president Charles Taylor, and that of Gyude Bryant of the National Transition Government.
The two laws, Sherman claimed, sought to review the 2000 mineral and Mining Law enacted under Taylor, and the 2005 Public Procurement Concession Commission Act also enacted under Bryant with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the IB International of the states of Virginia, USA and the Governance and Economic Management Action Plan (GEMAP) for which Tsikata was contracted to assist the Liberian government.