One of the ‘big shots’ and foreigners indicted so far in the ongoing Global Witness (GW) Sable Mining bribery allegations has reacted to news of his indictment by the Liberian government, calling it ‘politically motivated.’
The announcement of the indictment of Sable Mining Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Andrew S. Groves, and others was made on Thursday, June 9, by Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa, head of the Special Presidential Task Force (SPTF) investigating and prosecuting the indictees.
Cllr. Koffa, who is the Minister of State Without Portfolio (With New Assignments), said Groves and Klaus Piprek, both of whom are presently not within Liberia’s jurisdiction, along with Dr. Richard Tolbert, former head of Liberia’s National Investment Commission (NIC), were indicted Wednesday night by Montserrado County Grand Jury for economic crimes and other crimes as per the indictment.
Groves is British and Piprek is South African.
Cllr. Koffa clarified that a second British national, Phillippe H. Edmonds, Chair of Sable Mining of London, has presently been found to be “an unindicted co-conspirator.” However, he stated that as they obtain further pieces of evidence, Edmonds’ status in the ongoing investigation might change.
According to Reuters, reacting to the news of his indictment by the Liberian government, Groves said on Friday that his indictment in Liberia was politically motivated.
Reuters quotes Groves’ public relations firm as saying: “Andrew Groves was surprised to learn from media reports that a grand jury in Liberia appears to have indicted him on unspecified charges.” He reportedly added that he had not been given a chance to respond to the charges.
“Mr. Groves believes that these allegations are politically motivated ahead of the imminent presidential elections, and are specifically designed to undermine the candidacy of Varney Sherman and Alex Tyler,” Grove’s statement read.
GW, in its report titled, “The Deceivers,” alleges that over US$950,000 in bribes and other suspicious payments were paid by UK mining firm, Sable Mining, through its Liberian lawyer, Cllr Varney Sherman. The report states that Cllr. Sherman, one of Liberia’s most prominent lawyers and current Chairman of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Unity Party, paid bribes to senior officials to alter Liberia’s concessions law in an effort to secure the Wologizi iron ore concession in northern Liberia.
It has not been established if in fact the law was altered as claimed.
According to GW, Sherman, a Senator of Grand Cape Mount County, distributed the money to some of Liberia’s most important government officials, some of whom, too, have been indicted.
llr. Sherman and House Speaker Alex Tyler, who allegedly received US$75, 000, are currently fighting the indictment in court, having already filed bonds totaling well over one million US dollars.
Along with Tyler and Sherman, six other persons and the Sable Mining Company have been indicted by the Liberian government.
The SPTF has disclosed that as the cases progress more indictments will be served. When he made this announcement on Thursday, Cllr. Koffa disclosed that what his taskforce is now uncovering as they carry out their investigation “is the largest conspiracy to steal the mineral resources of this country in our lifetime.”
His assertion was backed by Cllr. Daku Mulbah, lead prosecutor of the Task Force, who stated that the GW report has so far revealed that the syndicate is only the tip of the iceberg.
“It is only a tip of the iceberg that the GW report gave us. We are now seeing that there are others, who may not have been mentioned in that report but our investigators are unearthing names that you may not have heard before,” he stated.