LACC Dragged to Court

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The Liberia’s Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) is facing a lawsuit over “action of damages for wrong” against Representative Adolf Lawrence, a court document obtained by the Daily Observer said.

LACC last week announced that House Speaker J. Alex Tyler and Montserrado County Representative Adolf Lawrence were under investigation on allegation of corruption involving US$22,500 that was paid to Cllr. Michael Allison, a transaction LACC sees as violation of the Public Procurement and Concession (PPCC) law and Public Financial Management Act (PFM).

Addressing a news conference over the weekend in Monrovia, Rep. Lawrence dismissed any wrong doing on the part of him and House Speaker Alex Tyler, noting that the allegation is “politically motivated,” and as such, he Lawrence is seeking redress through the Civil Law Court.

Providing an account of what transpired, the Montserrado County lawmaker disclosed that three consultants were hired for the nation’s oil and gas consultation after the draft bill was submitted to the Legislature for approval.

Rep. Lawrence: “The House of Representatives contracted the services of three consultants, two of which were Liberians and the third a Ghanaian, to advise and draft the two pieces of legislations. The cost of consultancy for each of the Liberian was US$25,000 while the Ghanaian was US$75,000. Since it is the policy of government that services are rendered before payment, but that provisions in these contracts required 50% payment upon signature and due to the need to immediately commence, I as Chairman of the Committee on Lands, Natural Resources, Energy and Environment , sought the intervention of Speaker Tyler on how to proceed there from. Knowing the importance of the exercise, I requested and Speaker [Alex] Tyler agreed to advance the amounts required as initial payments to the consultants with the clear understanding that upon payment by government, he would be reimbursed. Consequently, the two Liberian consultants and the Ghanaian were paid 50 percent in keeping with the terms of the contract. Mr. Allison received US$12,500 representing 50 percent of his contract value. The other consultants were also paid 50 percent of their contract value.

“After several months, Allison was informed that his payment was ready and that we had requested full payment from government in keeping with the contract, so that he would be paid his balance and the amount taken from the Speaker would be reimbursed. Allison informed us that he was out of the country but that he would instruct his Professional Assistant to take delivery of the check, which was issued in his name. This was a clear admission by Allison that he knew that Speaker Tyler had made the initial advance payment to him. When he was told that taxes were to be ducted from his balance payment, he raised the contention that this was not part of the contract. Because of Allison’s refusal to pay government’s 10 percent tax, Speaker Tyler advised that I receive the US$10,000 which Allison accepted to refund to avoid confrontation.”

According to Lawrence, Allison met with him (Lawrence) upon arrival in Monrovia and agreed that they both proceed to the bank and complete the transaction.

Upon verification by bank authorities, Lawrence said; the check was endorsed and encashed by him at EcoBank Annex on Ashmun Street. He thereafter gave me US$10,000 and the balance US$12,000 was taken by him.

“At this point, agents of LACC arrived on the scene and informed me that LACC was investigating the ‘just-encashed’ check and that they needed my presence for statement.

“At LACC, I was advised by its Chairman to turn over the money to them and return the next day for a statement. I returned the next day and signed a statement sheet and travelled the following day,” the Montserrado County lawmaker declared.

He argued that the money in question was not government’s money, “So why has LACC confiscated the money without court order?”

He then accused Cllr. James Verdier and the LACC of using the institution as a political tool instead of a professional entity.

Lawrence disclosed that LACC has released US$10,000 of the said amount to Allison while investigation is ongoing, a position LACC has since dismissed.

According to the court document, defendant LACC was filed a lawsuit on October 24, 2014 before Judge Yusuf D. Kabah, Resident Circuit Judge.

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