The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) on Tuesday, February 26, 2019, clarified that the responsibility of providing US$ 57,105.64 as remittances to a number of its ex-employees on the order and verdict of the Commercial Court Judge, Eva Mappy Morgan, is now with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MoFDP).
In his clarification, LACC Executive Director Mohammed Fahnbulleh said the Commission is not and will never disobey the Court, after having verified that those in whose favor the ruling was handed down justly deserved the amount in question.
On December 27, 2018, the three-judge panel headed by Judge Eva Mappy Morgan, along with Associate Judges Chanchan A. Paegar and Richard S. Klah, ruled that following several court proceedings, backed by several documents from the plaintiffs and the defendants, the LACC should make payment of the over US$57,000 with immediate effect.
According to court documents in the possession of the Daily Observer, the tax rate applied to the salaries of ex-employees of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission’s amounted to 10 percent but was, on the contrary, applied as over twenty-six percent which caused them a huge reduction in their income over the years.
The documents state that the ex-employees’ employment at the time of the incident ranged from a year to as far back as six years ago. The total amount in question as of the day the LACC began deducting sums of money from the ex-employees is US$ 57,105.64 (Fifty-Seven Thousand, One hundred Five Dollars and Sixty-Seven Cents).
Fahnbulleh said the list of all those to whom the LACC is indebted have been processed and forwarded to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, which is charged with the responsibility to release funds for all government payments, including salaries in the country.
His clarification comes in the wake of expressions of disenchantment by the aggrieved ex-employees of the Commission. The ex-employees said the Commission is reneging on a mandatory commitment supported by law and as ruled by the Commercial Court.
In his presentation of concerns over the LACC’s alleged failure to respect the ruling of the Court, the spokesperson of the group, Cllr. Daniel B. Tipayson said it has been a while since the Court ruled but the Commission is yet to live up to expectation.
He said in a recent interview with the Daily Observer that the action of the anti-graft institution is counter-productive to the rule of law and undermines the integrity of the institution that is supposed to battle corruption.
Tipayson added: “It’s a clear disadvantage the outgoing LACC boss has taken of us. His action has brought serious embarrassment to the institution because it seems that he single-handedly applied our money for his personal gain.”
He said the action by the LACC, at the time headed by Cllr. James Verdier, has affected more than eight ex-employees of the entity.
Cllr. Tipayson further told the Daily Observer on Thursday, February 21: “Cllr. Verdier told us prior and during the court’s proceedings that, with the consensus of the Board of Commissioners and consent of LACC employees, he used our remittance to purchase a generator for the commission; a statement which was false and misleading.
“Even if he did, he was still in the wrong because he has no legal right to use our personal money for such a purpose, especially when the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC) had by then told us that they have already procured a generator for the LACC. Verdier wanted us to believe what he had told us.”
When contacted via mobile phone, the Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Samora Wolokolie, said his office was not prepared to discuss anything with any reporter concerning payment of any money to the LACC.
“I am not going to have any discussion with any newspaper regarding any payment of the Ministry of Finance, absolutely not,” he said as he hung up the call.
Wolokolie had earlier sarcastically asked whether the Daily Observer reporter now worked for the LACC, such that he was asking him questions pertaining payment of any money to whosoever. He warned that nobody should call him to follow up on any payment issue to LACC or whatever government entity.
“So nobody call me to follow up on any payment for that matter. If any payment is here and it is requested that we pay, we believe that it should be paid and we will do our own due diligence,” he said.
He added: “Besides that, I will hold no conversation of such with any media entity or any institution of government regarding payments.”