The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alex Tyler, has categorically denied having ever been investigated by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) for any financial or administrative malpractice as announced by the LACC Chairman Cllr. James Verdier.
The House Speaker said he had never received any notification from LACC to the effect that he was being investigated; but said he had advised the Commission to exercise due diligence in the conduct of its duties as provided for under the Act.
The Speaker’s clarification was contained in a press release, dated October 29, 2014, under the signature of Chief of Staff Edwin J. Clarke, Jr.
The release said the Speaker had only received a communication from the LACC requesting the assistance of his Office to provide documentation including contract(s) between the House of Representatives and three independent consultants, which the Office of the Speaker provided.
“The Office of the Speaker believes that the decision of the Chairperson of the LACC to select the “court of public opinion” as opposed to following the powers and functions as enshrined in the Act is inappropriate and outside the spirit of good governance,” the press release states, citing the LACC Act Chapters 4.1 and 5.1 and 5.2 – The Powers of the LACC and the Functions of the LACC.
The release said, “members of the House of Representatives undertook a nationwide broad consultation seeking the input of Liberians on how to proceed with the Oil Sector of our country, in order to yield the desired dividends. The tour was a real eye opener, witnessing firsthand the deplorable living conditions of the people.”
The release also said, “ the deplorable living conditions of the people placed upon their shoulders immense pressure to move swiftly with a district-centered budgetary proposal for immediate financial allocation intended to transform the lives of our people.
“It would seem that moving with haste with the Oil Sector, seeking internal and external expertise for proper guidance amidst constraints, of Government’s policy of services before payment that provoked the Speaker’s financial surety, has now become an issue,” the release said.
Speaker Tyler argued that “if national leaders act selflessly by putting forth their personal resources to expedite national processes, that should not be construed as a new definition of corruption.
“When someone chooses to blackmail a senior official by reneging on a gentlemen’s arrangement for reimbursement of an advance payment he had received for services to be rendered, it only draws into question, the integrity of this particular individual,” the release further said.
“In this instance, Speaker Tyler was not soliciting a bribe or percentage, but pushing active Liberian participation, at most two Liberian Lawyers, to properly advise on the legality of the oil instruments to be in line with our national laws and the overall national interest.”
The release also said: “ by choosing to project himself as a Whistle-Blower to the LACC, this individual’s motive was sinister, bordering on greed and selfishness to renege on the reimbursement of the US $12,500.00 advance payment of the US $25,000.00 legal service contract.”
Meanwhile, the release said, “it was saddened to note that due to the gullible political environment, the Speaker has now become the soft target and political whipping boy by those who fear that he has conceived a political ambition that could outplay their political agenda.”
The Speaker, however, questioned the integrity of the LACC saying: “When the LACC Chairperson, heading an integrity institution, begins to question whether or not the US $12,500.00 was the personal money of Speaker Tyler, then the issue is trivialized.”
The release indicated: “Speaker Alex J. Tyler is a gainfully employed senior official of government with the capacity to have made such an advance payment of US $12,500.00 from his personal/family coffers, judging from delayed bureaucracy associated with such a payment with no pecuniary interest.”
He further declared: “If this matter borders on the Honorable Speaker using his personal money, then the records are available for the perusal of the LACC and all interested parties to fully vindicate Speaker Tyler and protect his hard earned reputation.”