Former Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LRPC) Managing Director, Mr. T. Nelson Williams and ex-Commence Minister Miatta Beysolow are among several individuals indicted in a fraud scheme that allegedly deprived government of millions of United States dollars during the sale and distribution of the Japanese oil grant valued at US$13,083, 350 (the equivalent of one billion, one hundred million Japanese Yen) donated by the Japanese Government.
The scheme involved 15,000 metric tons of petroleum products that were intended to help government in its economic and social development efforts, which prosecution put the total amount collected from the sale as up to US$5,764, 110.84.
The products were donated under oil grant arrangement with a provision which was conveyed in an exchange of notes dated March 8, 2011, between the governments of Japan and Liberia.
Mr. Steve Fiahn, former Director, Division of Price Analysis and Marketing at the Ministry of Commence (MOC), as well as, Mr. Aaron J. Wheagar, Deputy Manager for Operations and implementing person for the Japanese oil grant at the LPRC, and the Aminata & Sons Incorporated through its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr. Siaka Turay, were others also charged in the indictment by the Grand Jury for Montserrado County.
The nine counts against the five defendants include economic sabotage, misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy and facilitation, and violation of the required Public Procurement Concession and Commission (PPCC) procedures and processes.
However, one of the defendants, Aaron J. Wheagar, has been arrested and detained at the Monrovia Central Prison for his failure to secure a bond, while the other defendants are still at large.
Lawyers representing the defendants were seen yesterday at the Temple of Justice trying to secure a single bond for all of the defendants to prevent the others from being arrested and detained.
The indictment alleges that in August 2011, the defendants approved and implemented the determination and set up a fraudulent concessionary price of US$687.40 per metric ton for the monetization of the Japanese oil grant.
The actual quantity of metric tons of the grant petroleum products, the document claims, should have been 12,404,040, which the defendants should have used to determine and set up the concessionary price to be US$831,811.24 for the sale and distribution of the products.
But the defendants set up a fraudulent concessionary price of US$687.41 per metric ton, which they allegedly used in the monetization of the oil grant.
“The defendants deprived the government of the amount of US$1,806, 811.14, which is the difference between the amounts of US$10,300, 988.14 that should have been deposited in the grant at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL),” court records claim.
The defendants reportedly deposited the actual amount of US$8, 504, 177.00, at the CBL.
“The defendants in their criminal efforts and schemes exercised unauthorized control over the difference thereby converting same to their use and benefits,” the indictment added.
The Ministry of Commence, the document said, being the custodian of the oil grant and with responsibility to ensure the distribution and sale of the products, executed a scheme between the LPRC, MOC and Aminata & Sons without due regard to the PPCC bidding process.
“They created and provided the opportunity for individuals and or business entities to exploit and abuse the distribution and sale of the oil grant. They also acted as individuals with criminal motive through a conspiracy scheme,” the indictment claims, adding “they are abusive and unmindful of their functionary duties to the government.”