Former representatives Rufus Dio Neufville and Alomiza Ennos are wanted by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Legislature, to answer to questions about their involvement in a scandal at the National Oil Company of Liberia, (NOCAL).
The PAC at the weekend issued the statement ordering the two former lawmakers to appear before that August Body based on audit reports from the General Auditing Commission (GAC) linking the former Montserrado County lawmakers to collecting bribes on behalf of members of the House of Representatives for contract purposes in the oil sector.
Those to appear before the committee include former NOCAL president, Dr. Foday Kromah, former board chairman Clemenceau Urey, former Chief Clerk Atty. James Kaba (deceased), and Neufville and Ennos.
Neufville was recently appointed Chief of Protocol to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf after serving at the Ministry of Commerce briefly, while Madam Ennos is in the employ of Liberia Transit Authority.
The PAC took the decision after holding two unsuccessful public hearings on NOCAL last week. Authorities of NOCAL were invited to give account of some US$118,400 that the GAC said was paid from NOCAL’s account as “lobbying fees” to the National Legislature in order to ratify petroleum contracts that were pending before the National Legislature.
According to the Auditing body, Mr. Urey said that the lawmakers requested for such amount from NOCAL to rapidly ratify the contracts, but there was no evidence provided to justify NOCAL’s claims.
The payment of the purported lobbying fees to the Legislature is unlawful, and contravenes Section 12.50(1) of the Penal Law of Liberia which states “a person has committed bribery, a second degree felony, if he knowingly offers, gives or agrees to give to another, or solicit, accepts or agrees to accept from another, a thing of value as consideration for: (a) the recipient’s official action as a public servant, or (b)the recipient’s violation of a known duty as a public servant.”
GAC: “Minutes of the NOCAL’s Board of Directors indicated that the Board was also concerned that payment of such amounts to influence the passage of the petroleum contracts of Broadway PLC and Oranto Petroleum was irregular, a form of bribery. The Board’s Chairman in his response to the findings of the audit made these assertions: “After consultation with the authorities we gave into their demands, reluctantly. The first amount of $ 50,000.00 was approved by the Board.”
“A scrutiny of the minutes will reveal that we did not have fund at the time; the Board authorized management to borrow it from the LPRC. A second payment was made to the Legislators without the approval of the Board. I was informed by Dr. Kromah, NOCAL’s president that the situation demanded that this amount be paid right away. I do not believe I was even in the Country and many Board members were unavailable.”
Board Chairman Urey admitted to the Board’s approval of the US$50,000 borrowed from LPRC for the purpose of bribing the Legislature for the passage of these petroleum contracts. By his admission, he is saying that he and the Board Members were aware of the disbursement from the borrowed US$50,000 from LPRC to a Member of the National Legislature and the Chief Clerk of the House of Representative. Montserrado County District #1 Representative Alomiza Ennos received US$40,000 as authenticated by the receipt issued by her and the Chief Clerk James Kaba received US$1,500 as also authenticated by a receipt issued by him.
However, the current leadership of NOCAL said they could not account for the spending as only a single senior member of the regime involved is still in the employ of NOCAL at the moment.
Based on said explanation, Representative Edward W. Karfia made a motion to compel those booked in the audit to appear before the committee on Wednesday of this week.