LACC: 80% Executive Officials Fail to Declare Assets

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Cllr. Verdier addresses the media, while one of the Commissioners looks on.

Legislature scores zero in asset declaration

The chairperson of the Liberia-Anti Corruption Commission (LACC), Cllr. James Verdier says about 80 percent of officials within the executive branch of government have failed to declare their assets despite continued engagement to ensure that they do so in line with the law.

Verdier made the disclosure at a news conference yesterday,November 22 in Monrovia. He said that only 92 of the 460 public officials within the executive branch of government have declared their assets.

He among other things recommended, “that all officials of the executive branch, who are required to file asset declarations, but have failed to do so should be reprimanded and or suspended for one month without pay.”

He further recommended that the suspension must remain until a proof or evidence that they have complied with the law, and also those who failed to comply in two weeks must face dismissal from office.

Cllr. Verdier said no lawmaker has declared his or her assets, while those from the Judiciary Branch have been commended for their outstanding adherence to the law in which 333 out of 370 have completed their assets declaration. He commended the Judiciary for the initiative and called on others to declare their assets.

According to Verdier, Part 15.1 sanctions for infringement of the national Code of Conduct (CoC) provides that sanctions for any breach of the CoC shall be those prescribed by the Standing Orders of the Civil Service or any other law governing the public service.

Notwithstanding, depending on the gravity of the offense or misconduct, one or more penalties, including dismissal, removal from office in public interest, reprimand, fine or making good loss or damage of public property/assets; demotion (reduction in rank); seizure and forfeiture to the state of any property acquired from abuse of office; and interdiction/suspension from duty with half pay may be applied.

Cllr. Verdier said assets and liability declaration is a critical instrument for measuring and monitoring the performance and acquisition of wealth and resources by public officials during their tenure in office.

According to him, the verification exercises of assets declared will commence shortly, indicating that a multi-institutions-team (LRA, FIU, GAC, IAA and the LACC) has been organized to include various experts to undertake this task.

“It is a universally accepted policy and practice and is also mandated by the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), which Liberia signed, and acceded to on September 16, 2005,”  Verdier said.

He added, “this led to the establishment of the LACC in August, 2008, through an act of the legislature. In the exercise of its broad powers under part 5.2(g), the LACC instituted an asset declaration regime in 2012 with the support of the office of the President, who issued successive executive orders requiring members of the executive branch to declare their assets.”

He said in March, 2014, “an act of legislature prescribing a national CoC for all public officials, and employees of the government was passed. This law then made it a mandatory requirement for designated officials of government whether appointed or elected in the three branches of government to declare their assets prior to assuming office.

“Even though the CoC designated various responsible offices in the various branches of government to receive, and be the repositories of these public documents rather than the LACC, it also mandated the LACC to receive copies of these documents for its investigative purposes,” Verdier said.

He however, said the MoU between the LACC and GAC (the agency designated to receive declarations form in the executive branch) was executed in which, GAC designated the LACC as its agent to receive asset declarations on its behalf since GAC did not find any utility and value in collecting these documents.

A CoC regulation was issued in 2017 clearly identifying positions requiring a declaration in the three branches of government, dates of filing and cut-off period.

The LACC also conducted specific training for responsible persons/offices designated to collect/receive these documents. The three branches of government actively participated, but the declaration forms were standardized and made user-friendly; distributed to government agencies nationwide to commence a uniformed and synchronized asset declaration regime for the government in 2017.

The 2017 elections exercises became a distraction and led to the stall in the process. But following the inauguration and the formation of the new government, the 2018 asset declaration became evident with the emergence of new public officials.

The CoC requires in part 10.1, says, ‘every public official and employee of government involved in making decisions affecting contracting, tendering or procurement, and issuance of licenses of various types shall sign performance or financial bonds and shall in addition, declare his or her income, assets and liabilities prior to taking office and thereafter.

Author

  • Anthony Kokoi is a young Liberian sports writer who has an ever-growing passion for the development of the game of football (soccer) and other sports. For the past few years, he has been passionately engaged in reporting the developments of the game in the country. He is an associate member of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL). He is a promoter of young talents. He also writes match reports and makes an analysis of Liberian Football.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Now we see why many Legislators are also in favor of terminating tenured positions in institutions such as the LACC! When the President installs a puppet they can use their influence to continue to flout the laws requiring asset declaration without fear of being exposed.

  2. The entire Country needs to be turn over to the United Nations for a complete over-haule. Everybody want to dress in black shoes, white shirt, wear expensive belt, drive $85000,00 USD jeep on wet mud roads, wear gold and the lsit goes on and on!

    If we are not careful this time around it will not actually be a civil war of guns like in the 90s with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Charles Taylor, Prince Johnson et al., but an economic war like in the Venuzualia that making everybody in the Country to seek refuge in neigboring Countries as refugess.

    So, let not forget. An extreme hardship and poverty when it reaches at boiling point that it becomes unbearable can de-generate or cause an entire Nations to turn into or run into refugees`camps. Hunger kill too just like bullets. The Soviet Union and Venezuela can attest to this.

  3. I don’t blame those officials who are refusing to declare their assets. If the president is serious indeed, he will compel them to do so. But we see that even the president himself is making asset declaration a secret thing. What do you expect those officials to do? A fish starts to get rotten from the head. Let’s enjoy the pro-poor government!

  4. Mr. Verdier – Follow the law and do your job as a professional. You’ve been talking, talking and it’s almost 1 year now.

  5. The question is, before the Code of Conduct became Law, what was the mission of LACC; specifically, job descriptions of Chairman Counselor James Verdier and his management team? Because in as much as assets declaration is a legal mandate, that’s all he talks about every two months as if they haven’t anything else to do at the Commission. Moreover, the blatantly unprofessional manner in which LACC and Frontpageafrica exposed the late Whistleblower Counselor Allison, during the alleged NOCOL-Legislature bribery investigations, would make a cautious official hesitant about revealing personal information like assets to some of these guys. For instance, under what category of classification do they put such data: Confidential, Secret, or Top Secret, and what status of authority has access and under what circumstances and conditions?

    Well, I never got over the idea that as NOCOL contractor Allison passed on confindential information to LACC, they were passing it to sensationalism hound Mr. Rodney Sieh at FPA who didn’t give a damn about the consequences to Counselor Allison and would spill all in his newspaper. I follow online few Anti-Corruption Commissions in the sub-Region and they carry out tons of other activities apart from Assets Declarations. It is a shame that sometimes excuses are used by guys either too lazy or lack the type of training to carry out their core functions. Of course, we have biased echo chambers ready to escalate any one-sided perspective from a partisan adversarial press.

  6. This asset declaration law must be further strengthen by the house of senate who must not confirmed anyone who does not declare his or her asset with the senate upon confirmation.

  7. Yeah, right, just enact laws and to hell with institutional capacity or effectiveness. LACC is a toothless bulldog just baring gums and barking noisily. But we loved it like that, the symbolism paid off for EJS’s foreign image.

  8. Dear Liberians, are you not tired of corrupt government?
    I will be a better leader than Weah, if you will just give me one chance.

  9. A quote to educate Mr. Sylvester G. Moses about the mandate of the LACC and its core functions. Probably, you haven’t visited Liberia in many years and are unware of the work the Commi9ssion is carrying out apart from Assets Declarations and Verification Regime.
    You mentioned and I quote” Assets Declaration is all Chairman Verdier talks about every two months as if they haven’t anything else to do at the Commission”

    Firstly, the Act that established the Liberia Anti-Corruption commission (LACC) in 2008 states clearly the functions of the Commission and I quote ” The commission shall have the broad mandate and functions to implement appropriate measures and undertake programs geared toward investigating, prosecuting and preventing acts of corruption, including educating the public about the ills of corruption and the benefits of its eradication in Liberia.

    With the above premise being set, I will take few minutes of your time to educate you on what the LACC have been doing in terms of its program implementations apart from the most talk about topic, Assets Declaration. I am in the know of the work of the commission and credit should be given them instead of castigating the work they are doing under extreme budget cuts. Thee LACC has four core divisions namely: 1. Education and Prevention division, which has a mandate of creating corruption preventions interventions in public sector institutions through program such as conduction integrity risk assessment with risk mitigating plans for corrective actions; public education & awareness on corruption preventions in various Ministries and agencies of government including Churches & Mosques on good governance through integrity and ethics in public service; 2. The Investigation division, with the mandate of investigating corruption cases brought before the Commission. Remember the Act provide that corruption cases being investigated by the Commission has to go the Ministry of Justice, with a 90-daay ultimatum before LACC can take it directly to court if Justice Ministry do nothing about such case.3. Legal division, which have the mandate to take cases of corruption being investigated by the Commission directly to court if and only if Justice ministry has done nothing within 90-day ultimatum set by the Act creating the commission. 4. Administration division, that has the mandate of running the day to day activities of the Commission in terms of financial work, IT, procurement, HR, Transportation, Supplies etc. The Commission has qualified men and women taking up their precious time for mana Liberia to carry out those core functions elaborated on above. This should be an acknowledgement of the hard work that is being done on a daily basis in the fight against corruption in Liberia through the LACC. In fact right now, LACC has in place Students Integrity Clubs in more than 4 counties in Liberia (Montserrado, Margibi, Bassa, Bomi), not expanding to other counties for now due to budget cuts. The work of the integrity clubs are to prepare students and youths leaders through ethics and integrity in their daily lives as theses are the future leaders for Liberia for tomorrow Also,the Education & Prevention division of the Commission has a program in the Mosques & Churches every Friday & Sunday respectively so as to educate the congregation about the danger of corruption to a society and the benefits if we say no to corruption.
    So, Mr. Moses it is not always a good idea to say something when you haven’t done your researched on a particular institution, like that of the LACC. LACC is doing extremely well in the fight against corruption in Liberia and we should encourage them not to give up the fight even if the current government is not willing to fight corruption as we can see from all indications. We, as a country might not see the indicators at this moment but will be seen in years to come especially the students and youths in the integrity clubs in Liberia. The children are inspired to fight corruption and to be ambassador in building integrity in educational and other institutions in Liberia. Thanks.

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