Weeks after both the Supreme Court of Liberia and the National Association of Trial Judges in Luberia claimed that there was no sufficient evidence to punish any of those named in the US Treasury Department’s report of corruption against some judges and Grand Cape Mount County Senator Cllr Varney Sherman, the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA), has cautioned judicial actors and the Liberian Government not to take the issue lightly. The LNBA is the umbrella body for lawyers and judges in the country.
A release issued by the Supreme Court and the National Association of Trial Judges of Liberia earlier, challenged the Treasury Department to produce evidence in its possession based upon which the accusations against Cllr Sherman and the judges were obtained.
The Supreme Court by then, argued that with the information contained in the US Treasury Department’s statement without more details is “Insufficient to serve as a basis for Sanction against the referenced judicial actors.”
The NATL argued that the report was characterized by serious inconsistencies thereby describing it as “A blanket indictment of Liberian judges.”
However, during a press conference on Tuesday, January 26 at the Temple of Justice, Cllr.Tiawan Gongloe, President of the Liberia National Bar Association, said members of the bar believe that there is some level of truthfulness in the US Treasury Department’s report about corruption within the Judicial Branch of the Government.
“Nobody should doubt the report of the Treasury Department, because it is a technical institution that acts on evidence available to it,” Gongloe said.
The LNBA President added that unlike the US State Department that is more concerned about political matters, the Treasury department is a technical arm of the US Government and any information they provide should be seriously accepted by a country against whom the allegations are made.
“The State Department speaks on political matters and often times their reports are challenged, but this is not with the Treasury Department that is nonpolitical but technical,” Gongloe maintained.
Gongloe said at no timehe will disagree with the Treasury Department’s report, stressing,” I lived there before and I have read a lot of reports of the department and nobody should doubt their findings.”
Gongloe reminded his colleagues that the report is a call that the world is watching over them and should therefore be serious to act cautiously, citing the recent report as an example to give anyone the consciousness for integrity wherever he or she finds him/herself.
It can be recalled that on December 9, 2020 on International Anti Corruption Day, the United States Treasury Department in a statement captioned: “Treasury Sanctions Corrupt Actors in Africa and Asia,” placed the Global Magnitsky designation on several individuals in some countries including Liberia. In the statement, the United States Treasury Department declared that Counsellor Varney Sherman, a prominent lawyer and Senator of Grand Cape Mount County who also chairs the Liberian Senate Judiciary Committee, “offered bribes to multiple judges associated with his trial for a 2010 bribery scheme and had an undisclosed conflict of interest of a not guilty verdict in his favor 2019.
The statement further said that Cllr Sherman has routinely paid judges to decide cases in his favor. “And that his acts of bribery demostrate a larger pattern of behavior to exercise influence over the Liberian Judiciary and the Ministry of Justice.”