Swiss, US Lawyers to Retrieve Stolen Assets

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Cllr. Jonathan Fonati Koffa, head of the Special Presidential Taskforce (SPTF) investigating the Global Witness Sable Mining bribery allegations on senior Liberian government officials and others, has disclosed that the Force has put together a team of Swiss, US and Liberian lawyers for the recovery of stolen assets.

Addressing the Tuesday, July 5, Ministry of Information press briefing, Cllr. Koffa stated that the team of lawyers will put together a framework for the recovery of stolen assets not found in Liberia.

He further disclosed that by the end of this July, the SPTF and the lawyers would have initiated their first action that would lead to either a lawsuit or request for assets by September of this year.

Chasing after the nation’s stolen assets is a parcel of Cllr. Koffa’s Taskforce’s mandate. Also embedded in its mandate is to begin looking at past audit reports, which was done and compiled by the General Auditing Commission (GAC).

In this regard, Cllr. Koffa also stated that the Taskforce has concluded a joint framework with the Public Account Committee (PAC) on procedures in publishing the GAC report list of ‘persons of interest.’

He disclosed that the Task Force will publish an updated list on Tuesday, July 12.

Cllr. Koffa, who is also Minister of State Without Portfolio in the Office of the President, had stated at an earlier press briefing that what SPTF is doing with those old GAC reports, which have either not been prosecuted or are not currently being investigated, is ‘compliance screening.’

He had clarified that names of individuals and institutions that will appear on the list have not been accused of any crime neither of any wrong doing: “It is only because you have been listed, we will need to clear you out; maybe there is a receipt missing, there are explanations needed that the GAC was unable to obtain at the time they completed their audits.”

So far, the SPTF has released the names of over 100 individuals and institutions under its “persons of interest” listing. The process will last for at most 60 days.

Out of this number, Cllr. Koffa disclosed: “Over 30 persons so far have committed themselves and have provided documentations for clarifications and would be issued such clarifications.”

After the 60-day period, the concerns of those who are listed as persons of interest should be if they (SPTF) think that a wrongful act had occurred, they are going to refer those persons to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) with a “referral notice.”

“When we give you that notice than you can probably begin to worry but your name being listed in a newspaper should not cause any alarm to anyone. We are only at this point trying to do compliance screening,” he clarified.

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