If reconsideration to make some changes, perhaps, to have an independent team to prosecute corruption cases before the court is not done now, it may mean that President Weah’s public profession of fighting corruption would just be a mere dream that will not be realized.
The simple reason is that two of his lead prosecutors, Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean, and Solicitor General Cllr. Saymah Syrenius Cephus, would be forced to step aside from several high profile corruption cases that are on courts’ documents, involving former public officials of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration.
In one of his many public commitments issued recently, President Weah said his administration will continue to intensify the fight against corruption, which remains prevalent in the country and continues to negatively impact growth and development.
In fact, since the inception of the George Weah Administration in 2018, there have been reports of missing money and public attention has been drawn to a number of massive construction projects, personally owned by President, in just two years after becoming President; all the while having utterly refused to publicly declare his assets.
President Weah says he plans to introduce new legislation to amend the law creating the Liberia Anti-corruption Commission in order to give it more prosecutorial powers, “And we are working to improve our anti-money-laundering framework.”
“Many believe this to be an unchangeable way of life here in Liberia. I think otherwise. I believe that we will succeed in our fight against corruption and will bring to justice relevant individuals and corporations who have and continue to defraud Liberia,” President Weah said.
To this end, President Weah said, the government has hired the expertise of a world-renowned Asset Recovery firm to assist the local team carry out a professional exercise to recover Liberia’s wealth stolen over many decades.
“Additionally, we will continue to show the political will in the fight against waste and abuse of our national resources, as we have shown in recent times when a managing director and other high profile officials were dismissed, arrested and sent to court to vindicate themselves from accusations of corruption. There will be no sacred cows as we take stronger measures to end this societal menace,” he said.
Nevertheless, it remains doubtful whether or not President Weah can succeed, as his lead prosecutors including the head of his Asset Recovery plan, Cllr. Cephus, are expected to recuse themselves from most of those cases.
The men concerned must recuse themselves because of conflict of interest, meaning that they have initially participated in most of the cases by defending some individuals indicted by the Sirleaf Administration.
One of those cases is the Global Witness 2016 Report, which accused several officials of the Sirleaf Administration of allegedly receiving US$950,000 in bribes from Sable Mining, a British Company, to change Liberia’s Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) Act of 2005, in order to increase the company’s chances of acquiring a mining concession for the Wologisi Mountain in Lofa County without a competitive bidding process. .
In that matter, Cephus was forced to recuse himself after he admitted that he served as the lead lawyer of Sable Mining CEO, Andrew Grove, after CEO Grove was indicted for bribery and economic sabotage by a grand jury in June 2016.
In that very case, Justice Minister Dean served as a lawyer for Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County, who was also indicted.
Another one is the economic sabotage case involving former Managing Director of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA), Ellen Corkurm and several others including Musa Bility, former board chair of the authority.
In that matter, Cephus served as a lawyer for the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) and Justice Minister Dean also served as a lawyer for Corkurm.