— Writes Speaker Bhofal Chambers
The full bench of the Supreme Court has unanimously agreed and written the House of Representatives to open impeachment inquiries against one of the judges of the three-paneled Commercial Court, Richard S. Klah, a crucial decision that will require Speaker Bhofal Chambers and majority members of the House to voice their support for the inquiry.
But it is not clear how much support the Supreme Court’s recommendation to open the inquiry into Judge Klah will receive from members of the House of Representatives, as was in the case of former Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh.
Justice Ja’neh was impeached by majority of the lower house and was subsequently declared guilty on one of the four counts, involving the official misconduct and gross breach of duty of the Road Fund Case by majority members of the Senate.
Interestingly, Klah’s case is slightly different from that of Ja’neh, because Ja’neh’s impeachment originated from the House of Representatives, while the request for Klah’s impeachment is coming from his own bosses, the Supreme Court.
The decision of the full bench is a result of an investigative report by the Judiciary Inquiry Commission, with findings of bribery by Judge Klah.
The justices through the Supreme Court clerk, Attorney Sam Mamulu, communicated their recommendation of Klah’s impeachment inquiry to Speaker Bhofal Chambers, dated August 19, 2019. A copy of said communication is in the possession of the Daily Observer.
in their letter, captioned: “Judiciary Inquiry Commission Investigative Reports on His Honor Richard S. Klah, Associate Judge of the Commercial Court of Liberia”, the justices asked the lawmakers to determine whether the Judiciary Inquiry Commission’s investigative report amount to impeachable offenses.
“I have been instructed by the Full Bench of the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia to forward to you the name of His Honor Richard S, Klah, Associate Judge, Commercial Court of Liberia to determine whether the acts he was found guilty of relative to the above captioned case , amount to impeachable offenses,” the letter reads.
It concludes, “Attached are copies of the judgment, opinion and the records of the Judicial Inquiry Commission, constituting the full records of complaint and findings against Judge Klah of the Commercial Court of Liberia.”
The JIC’s report also said that Judge Klah allegedly received a bribe under the pretext that he would enter a judgment in favor of a complainant, Swansey Fallah, who is the General Manager of the Kingdom Business Inc.
The report also recommended that Judge Klah be immediately suspended from serving as a judge for a period of not less than one (1) year, with the loss of all salaries and benefits including transport, fuel, scratch cards for the period of his suspension.
“That, for his false statements under oath made both in his response to the complaint and in his testimony before the commission, which by law is criminal, a further three months suspension be imposed upon Klah,” the report further recommended.
It also recommends that the Supreme Court set aside the decision rendered by Judge Klah in the “Action of Debt By Attachment” lawsuit brought by a Lebanese businessman, Moussa Abdulkarim, the chief executive officer of the Atlantic Development and Logistic Inc, against Swansey Fallah due to the gross unethical breach and proven irregularities associated with the hearing of the said case and remand same for a new trial.
Despite, those recommendations, the full bench chose to forward Klah for an impeachment inquiry, at the House of Representatives.
The bribery scandal grew when Fallah on March 17, 2016 wrote Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, seeking the Supreme Court’s intervention in regard to a grievance which he alleged he had been made to suffer by Judge Klah.
In that communication, Fallah complained that in a case where he was involved, and which was pending before the judge, he was told by the judge that if he, Fallah, paid the said judge a certain amount of money, he (the judge) would enter a judgment in his favor.
In total, Fallah claimed that he had paid to Judge Klah the amount of US$19,700.
During the case, Fallah alleged that Judge Klah called him and requested that he give him Judge Klah US$5,000 with the promise that he will dismiss the case because he knew surely that Karim was accusing Fallah falsely. Besides, Judge Klah warned him not to disclose the money transaction between them to his lawyer.
“After that first transaction Judge Klah began to extort money from me on the weekly basis of not less than US$500 weekly,” Fallah claimed. According to him, from March 2016 to October 2016 Judge Klah demanded him on a weekly basis to pay for his home expenses, children school fees, car repairs, medical bills, bereavement funds, and his National Bar Association conference fees.
Fallah further claimed that before Judge Klah’s October 2016 ruling, he demanded Fallah to give him (Klah) the amount of US$6,000 that he needed to share the money to the two other judges of the court, Chan-Chan Paegar and Chief Judge Eva Mappy Morgan and himself Klah that each will take US$2,000 each as case closing fees.
Fallah also claimed that, from January 26, 2016, up to the conclusion of the case in October 2016 the total money he gave to Judge Klah, per his request, amounted to US$19,700, not mentioning other court expenditure, bond fees and legal.
In the midst of Fallah’s accusation, it was when Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor forwarded the complaint to the JIC for investigation, which report Judge Klah had challenged.
Before the recommendation, the JIC opened an investigation which Judge Klah denied the accusation.
Judge Klah also argued that Fallah did not pay any money to him, but also that he had never discussed the case with Fallah, other than in the court, during the hearing of the proceedings, and in the presence of all the parties.
Judge Klah again denied that he and Fallah had ever communicated on the phone and that the allegation of Fallah that they had used the medium of phone for communication was absolutely false.
Judge Klah also claimed that he did not know Fallah and Karim in the case before him, that he had never spoken to either of them via any cellphone communication or other that they were not his friends and he did not have their numbers, nor had he ever called or received calls from either of them.
Klah also vowed that if the commission found any link between him and either of the parties in the case that was before him, via call records or other, then he, the judge, was guilty of the allegation as contained in Fallah’s complaint.
It was after Judge Klah’s challenge that the commission requested both GSM companies, Lonestar Cell MTN and Orange, to bring the call logs between Judge Klah and Fallah and Judge Klah and Karim.
Surprisingly, both Lonestar and Orange call logs established that there were several calls exchanges between Judge Klah and Fallah and Judge Klah and Karim.