The Ministry of Justice, the prosecution arm of the government, appears to be divided over the US$5 million case involving Senate Secretary Nanborlor Singbeh. The recent crisis that hit MoJ comes days after the long-awaited US$5,062,419.10 economic sabotage and theft of property case against Senate Singbeh and several other individuals that include Ecobank-Liberia and Afriland First Bank.
This has shaken the ministry that the Solicitor General, Cllr. Saymah Syrenius Cephus, has been criticized by his colleagues, including Acting Justice Minister and Attorney General Nyenati Tuan ending in a war of words on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.
Cllr. Nyenati Tuan had communicated with the Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice that Cephus does not interfere with the matter because prior to becoming a Solicitor General, he represented the interests of parties in the case. Assistant Justice Minister for Litigation, Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh, has also entered the row with Cephus, where he maintained that Cephus should have nothing to do with the matter.
Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean, and Montserrado County Attorney, Cllr. Edwin Martin represented Mr. Hans Armstrong, a British national and Attorney-In-Fact of the two Czech Republic brothers, Pavel and Martin Miloschewsky, who had transferred US$5,062,419.10 in both cash and equipment to the country through Singbeh for the establishment of MHM Eko-Liberia, a rock crushing company.
The Miloschewskys claimed to have transferred US$2,495,103 through Ecobank-Liberia, and US$102,000 to Afriland First Bank, but the company was never established and the equipment was also sold by Singbeh and his co-defendants. However, co-defendant George Wisner, former Executive Director/Acting Chairman of the National Investment Commission (NIC) posted on his Facebook page that “I have held very cordial discussion with the Solicitor General, Cllr. Saymah Syrenius Cephus, who apologized for the indictment against me and the inconvenience it has done to my reputation.”
He also expressed his innocence about the scheme. “I have been assured that a withdrawal will be done publicly and the appropriate clarifications will be made,” Wisner said. When Wisner was contacted about the authenticity of his Facebook post, he responded: “Yes, I wrote the post.”
Also, When Cllr. Cephus was contacted about the Wisner’s post, he replied: “I don’t want to talk about the matter, because the indictment against Wisner and others had been dismissed by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).” Cllr. Cephus also raised an issue that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) had no jurisdiction to indict Singbeh over what he (Cephus) termed as “Corporate conflict.”
Cllr. Cephus, in a telephone interview on Tuesday, June 16, told journalists at the Temple of Justice that Singbeh and his investors were corporate partners and so, the matter is solely business fight and it is void of criminality. “These partners argued over a business disagreement and they have to settle the matter themselves and there is no legal issue to go to court,” Cllr. Cephus noted, adding, “Even the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) has dismissed the case.”
However, addressing a press conference on Monday, June 22, at his Ministry of Justice’s office, Minister Wesseh refuted Cephus’ accusation about corporate partner conflict. “If Cllr. Cephus, who is my boss and had been asked to recuse himself from the case can say the matter is dismissed, then I do not understand from what direction he is speaking,” Minister Wesseh wondered. “Look, if an investors brought in 5million United States dollars to invest into the economic and some stole the money, is that not theft of property? Is that a commercial transaction?” Wesseh wondered.
According to Wesseh, the matter derived from financial transaction between partners, but the act is criminal and the ministry has every necessary piece of evidence to prove the indictment against Singbeh and others that they collectively stole from the Czech Republic investors. On the issue of Wisner’s allege interaction with Cllr. Cephus to dismiss the case, Minister Wesseh said, if Wisner feels that he committed no crime against the state, then let him produce himself before the court for the trial, which is expected to start during the August Term of the Court.
Asked whether Cllr. Cephus’ interference with the case warrant any punishment, Minister Wesseh responded in the positive. “It is prejudice and punishable, but I am not the one to say so, it is only the Acting Minister Tuan that can prescribe the necessary punishment and not me,” Wesseh noted. Wesseh explained that after Cephus, Martins and Dean recused themselves from the case because of their past relationship with Armstrong, it was he (Cephus) that presented all of the necessary pieces of document to him and mandated him (Wesseh) to take over the matter.
“I have the letter about Cephus, Martins and Dean’s recusal right here in my hands, so, if Cephus is going to the public and talking about the dismissal of the indictment, that is undermining the matter. But we are going ahead with the prosecution of this case and let nobody say they can dismiss it,” Minister Wesseh declared.
Their indictment grew from an investigative report conducted by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) through the Attorney-In-Fact of two Czech Republic brothers, Pavel and Martin Miloschewsky, Hans Armstrong, a British national.