The Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa-led Special Presidential Task Force (SPTF) investigating the Global Witness report accusing several senior Liberian government officials and others of bribery, has said that at least four persons (names not given) from one corporation have been indicted and that several other indictments (names withheld) will be served to individuals this week.
“The Task Force has also interviewed more than 12 witnesses in Liberia and abroad and reviewed more than 700 pages of evidence, which have been combined,” he revealed.
Going forward, Min. Koffa said the task force will be in the background providing all the necessary pieces of evidence needed to successfully prosecute all persons who will be indicted.
This was disclosed last Thursday at the regular press briefing of the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), when Cllr. Koffa, who is also the Presidential Affairs Minister in the Office of President Sirleaf, announced that the SPTF was handing over the prosecutorial role of the task force to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).
Although the Task Force also has prosecutorial powers, the MOJ, however, is the statutory government’s arm that prosecutes cases.
Giving reasons for this transfer of authority, he stated that even though being chairman and still having “prosecutorial patent,” he was however taking the back seat, allowing the MOJ to take the lead because active prosecution has begun of people linked to the GW Sable Mining report on Liberia, entitled: The Deceivers.
The SPTF is a tripartite entity, including the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs (MOS), the Ministry of Justice and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).
Not having fully exhausted the Herculean task of providing all the necessary pieces of evidence to prosecute the indictees and would-be indictees, the SPTF is now opening another daunting chapter of the corruption fight by beginning to look at the mountain of GAC audit reports.
“What we are going to be doing next, is looking at all of those old GAC reports which have not either been prosecuted or are not currently being investigated to do what we call ‘compliance screening,’” he disclosed.
Unlike his first role: investigating the GW Sable Mining report, in this next phase we are not going to be investigating, he clarified.
“Starting on Monday (today), our press office will release what we call a list of persons of interest, to the newspapers. It will be based on audits. These will simply be on the situation where you are listed in a GAC report and we will need to talk to you.”
Min. Koffa, however, clarified that those individuals have not been accused of any crime neither of any wrong doings. “It is only because you have been listed, we will need to clear you out. Maybe there is a receipt missing, there are explanations needed that the GAC was unable to obtain at the time they completed their audits.”
After this period, which according to Cllr. Koffa will last between 30 and 60 days, what those who are listed as persons of interest should be concerned about is if they (SPTF) think that a wrongful act had occurred, they are going to refer those persons to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) with a “referral notice.”
“When we give you that notice than you can probably begin to worry, but your name being listed in a newspaper should not cause any alarm to anyone. We are only at this point trying to do compliance screening,” he clarified.
Mr. Kofa disclosed that he has received assurances from the LACC Commissioner that they are going to speedily investigate those individuals that the SPTF will refer to them.
According to him the reason why they decided to publish the names of individuals in the newspapers is simply because, “We don’t know everybody and we don’t know where to find you.” He added that it would be too cumbersome to find everyone and serve them letters.
He stated that the list of persons of interest would be updated and those who will provide “satisfactory answers” during their compliance screening will be informed that the SPTF has no further matter with them.
According to him, this will solve some problems of old audit reports, which “seem to be off the table to put them back on the table so that all cases involving the GAC reports are resolved toward the end of this year.”
He stressed that this will help to make people take the GAC seriously. “The GAC can’t do audits and nothing happens,” he added.
This has probably come against the backdrop of Liberians being concerned that the Presidential Task Force was swiftly proceeding with investigating the GW corruption report when there exists a mountain of GAC reports, which are yet to be investigated. One of such GAC reports that many Liberians have made reference to is the one on the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), which was managed by Mr. Robert A. Sirleaf, son of the President.