Shoniyin Refutes Involvement in ‘Japanese Grant’ Scandal

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Minister Shoniyin “My hands are clean from any misuse of the Japanese Grant…”

Deputy Minister-designate says his hands are clean

The Deputy Minister-designate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Elias Shoniyin, has reacted to media reports linking him to the much publicized misuse of the  Japanese Grant in the amount of US$731,412, which was given to the Liberian Government in 2014 to build the institutional capacity of the Department of International Economic Cooperation and Integration (IECI) at the Ministry.

Minister Shoniyin displayed letters, including recommendations from the Ministry of Justice, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, and the General Auditing Commission, that exonerated him from any wrongdoing.

He told journalists on Tuesday in Monrovia that the purpose of the project was to hire, retain and train professional staff with the necessary skills to increase the efficiency of the IECI department, and noted that 50 percent of the project’s goal was achieved.

Shoniyin further disclosed that Thomas Kaydor, a short-term former Deputy Minister for the IECI department, and Augustine Nyanplu, manager of the project, were in charge of managing the fund.

The Deputy Minister-designate also displayed bank slips to indicate that the bulk of the withdrawals were made by both Kaydor and Nyanplu without his knowledge, confirming a report that L$21,394,360 was disbursed without adequate supporting documents.

He denied any involvement in the syndicate to dupe the Liberian government and noted that all of the probes that were conducted by both the GAC and the Ministry of Justice cleared him of any wrongdoing in the disbursement of the funds.

“If I was guilty of such, I don’t think President Weah would have named me in his government” Shoniyin told journalists, maintaining that his hands are clean which he said was the basis for President George Weah appointing him as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

According to GAC audit the amount of US$731,412 was provided by the Japanese Government for a two-year capacity building project, in June 2014; however, half of the money was transferred from the Central Bank of Liberia to Afriland Bank on the watch of Thomas Kaydor and Augustine Nyanplu.

Meanwhile, a  Joint Public Accounts Committees of the Legislature concluded its hearings on the GAC Audit Report and noted that Shoniyin failed to put in place a monitoring and supervisory mechanism to ensure effective implementation of the project consistent with best administrative practices.

On Thomas Kaydor, the Joint Public Accounts Committees said, he was grossly negligent. “While it is true that he developed guidelines for the implementation of the project when he took over, he failed to make provision as required by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Internal Control Processors. Through his lack of supervision, Mr. Nyanplu continued to engage in further fraudulent transactions which brought about a loss to the project.

“He ignored red flags in the project such as the bounced checks which if investigated promptly could have prevented further loss. He also failed to put in place a monitoring and supervisory mechanism to ensure the effective implementation of the project consistent with best administrative practices after he took over.”

On the role of Augustine Nyanplu in the scandal, the Joint Public Accounts Committees concluded, “Mr. Nyanplu’s conduct in the management of the project, as Project Manager, is beyond redemption. His conduct according to the audit report, resulted in the theft of L$19,079,815 or US$227,140.65. He also engaged in criminal acts including submitting forged letters to the bank requesting for overdraft facilities. There being no evidence that he acted in collusion with others at the Ministry, he bears criminal responsibility for the fraud.”

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