The argument as to whether or not to allow the Special Presidential Taskforce that is investigating the alleged Global Witness bribery scandal access to several bank accounts of defendants, including Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County, was yesterday entertained at Criminal Court C.
In May of this year, then Judge Boima Kontoe of Criminal Court ‘A’ that indicted Sherman and other co-defendants granted a writ of subpoena ‘Duces Tesum’ authorizing banking institutions to release the defendants’ bank statements to prosecutors.
Unfortunately, that judgment was appealed to the Supreme Court. As a result the case was transferred to Criminal Court ‘C’ for its determination.
However, Judge Yamie Gbeisay of Criminal Court ‘C’ heard the case but postponed his judgment.
Yesterday’s hearing came after Judge Gbeisay gave prosecution lawyers ten (10) days to either produce evidence in their possession to the defendants or risk the case being dismissed.
Prosecutors had demanded that they could not make the evidence available to the court unless they had access to the defendants’ bank statements.
Global Witness had alleged in its reports that over US$950,000 in bribes and other suspicious payments were made to top government officials by UK mining firm Sable Mining and its Liberian lawyer, Cllr. Varney Sherman.
GW alleged that the money received from Sable’s representatives was meant to create a loophole in the Public Procurement and Concessions Law, which would have increased the mining company’s chances for securing the coveted Wologizi iron ore concession without submitting to a competitive bid.
In counter argument Sherman’s’ lawyers asked the court to deny the prosecutors’ application because “it was inconsistent with the governing principle of the civil and criminal procedural law.”
They further argued that the writ had not been served on them so as to afford the defendants the opportunity to object to the request. ”Neither was there any action that was pending before Criminal Court ‘A’ which would serve as a basis for the issuance of the writ,” Sherman’s legal team argued.
Besides Cllr. Sherman, others whose United States dollar bank statements are expected to be disclosed include Sherman & Sherman Inc, Sable Mining, Western Cluster, Delta Mining Consolidated (Pty) Limited and West Africa Exploration.
Others include: Senator Morris Saytumah of Bomi County; Sumo Kupee, Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC); Cletus Wotorson, former Senator of Grand Kru County; Former Speaker Alex Tyler; Rep. Henry Fahnbulleh; as well as the Chairman of the
Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC), Willie Belleh, and former National Investment Commission (NIC), Richard Tolbert.
The banking institutions that are expected to produce the statements if Judge Gbeisay supports his colleague Judge Kontoe, are International Bank (Liberia) Limited, Ecobank Liberia Limited, Guaranty Trust Bank Liberia Limited and Global Bank Liberia Limited.