Members of the Liberian Senate have expressed mixed opinions on the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) bribery and corruption allegations against Grand Cape Mount County Senator H. Varney G. Sherman, followed by sanctions.
The Senators’ debate was in reaction to a preliminary report submitted to plenary by the Leadership of the Senate, which was initially requested to take charge of Senator Sherman’s letter informing them about OFAC accusation against him. Lofa County Senator Stephen J. H Zargo, defending the Senate’s decision to intervene on behalf of their colleague, argued that though Senator Sherman was accused as Senator, he, however, reminded them that “Today it is Senator Sherman, tomorrow it could be me and others here.”
Senator Abraham Darius Dillon on the other hand warned that the Senate’s manner in handling the issue could institutionally involve the Liberian Senate. “So I hold strongly the Leadership of the Liberian Senate like we have done with other issues, liaise with the Foreign Ministry through the protocol to handle this matter.”
Senator Dillon asserted that what their colleague is accused of is his private affairs, not as a Senator; “And so to be seen or attempting as aiding and abetting the alleged act of one of us against inarguably the world’s most powerful nation… let’s be careful so that sentiment cannot drive our decision or action.”
The Montserrado County Senator further caution that it may appear that they (Senators) do not appear as though they are trying to sympathize with their colleague to do the wrong thing. “We should stand firm and help our colleague in a way that it does not draw the Liberian Senate as an institution in this matter.” Next was Senator Conmany B. Wesseh, who recalled cautioning his colleagues to be careful to introduce such a matter, suggesting that, ” If I were Senator Sherman, I would not write to the Liberian Senate to look into this matter; I would do it quietly because no matter what we say, this is a matter that involves the function and activities of Senator Sherman in his private capacity; he did not go on a Senate matter to do anything for which he was accused.”
He admitted that the Grand Cape Mount County Senator is his good friend, but disagreed with the Senate being drawn in to a matter that does not involve it (Senate). “I think we are doing harm to the Senate; we are making fools of ourselves and we are too old and experienced to allow this to happen. Please, Pro-Temp, we have been working hard together; let’s leave this matter, let sleeping dog lie. If we love Varney, that’s not the way to do it.”
Senator Sherman, owner of the Sherman & Sherman Law Firm, recently submitted a ten-page communication to the Liberian Senate, denying allegations by the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of bribery and corruption. On December 9, 2020, in recognition of the International Anti- Corruption Day, the United States Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed economic and financial sanctions on Cllr Sherman for allegations of bribery of multiple judges associated with his 2010 bribery scheme, in which he was declared not guilty verdict in July 2019.
Cllr Sherman explained that since he was admitted to practice law in February 1980, “I know of no judge during my nearly 41 years career as a Liberian lawyer, who ruled in a case or in cases against me and I was responsible for his/ her impeachment for that reason. I have never ever facilitated payments to any Liberian politician to support impeachment of any judge.”
Speaking with Senate press last month, Cllr Sherman admitted that the sanctions have devasted his long earned reputation; ” It will take me some years after I succeed to remove my name to be able to get my reputation back, I will try my best to try to remove my name.” He asserted that whoever was involved in submitting his name and allegations of bribery and corruption to OCAF must have the stature or the credibility that once they put the information out, and without investigation, OCAF concludes it is true.