The Chairman of the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC), Counselor James Verdier Jr., has called on the National Legislature to provide the commission with prosecutorial powers to enable it circumvent the three months provided under the law before advancing to court proceedings.
At the Information Ministry’s regular Thursday press briefing on Capitol Hill in Monrovia last week, Cllr. Verdier explained that if the prosecution powers are granted LACC, it will be able to engage those involved and prosecute them in a timely manner as expected by the Liberian people.
The LACC boss said the issue of capacity challenge of his institution remains a serious problem, including resources, and the lack of support being demonstrated by government officials, that sometimes hinder investigations; slowing down credible investigation.
He said he is committed to engage other officials, including the President, Chief Justice and the Speaker on how to ensure that officials of various branches government, when accused of corruption, can cooperate or those in possession of documentations can support and cooperate with LACC.
“If these things are done, our investigations will be rapidly carried out. We have been investigating a couple of cases that have been slow because of lack of cooperation and lack of interest in ensuring that we are unable to bring those cases to their logical conclusions,” he said.
He emphasized the need to build the capacity of LACC through the provision of resources, budget support, and increasing its workforce.
“We want the National Legislature to see this as an ownership being carried out by the LACC and continue to ensure that the necessary support in handling corruption cases is provided,” he said.
“In the spirit of transparency, accountability, and by law, the LACC must provide all of its documents to the national legislature. They asked for our salaries, our budget, among others and all were provided to the House of Representatives which indicated how transparent we were in fighting corruption, and shows that accountability and transparency remain in public service,” he averred.
He said it was false that the LACC did not provide accountability for its budget but during the budget hearing. The lawmakers who were involved demanded a roadmap and argued that it was not presented in the format expected but, Cllr. Verdier said, “There is no law that states that you need to present the budget in a particular format.”
Counselor Verdier also mentioned the completion of former head of the General Auditing Commission (GAC), Robert Kilby, who was engaged in awarding contract to his own company and has been forwarded to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution, among other cases.
He also said the LACC has begun the investigation in the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) saga and also intends to recommend to the President of Liberia to suspend the severance to authorities of NOCAL.
“We began an investigation into why and how this corporation that was seen to be so solvent and demonstrated lots of capacity to create more profits. Why in so short a time, [would they] be announcing bankruptcy? There are issues of mismanagement, misappropriation of resources, waste of government resources and we stand to provide report when completed,” he averred.
“We are also investigating wrongful contract being awarded by the Ministry of Public Works (MPW) without going through the PPCC process and will soon be completed,” he added.