The Cllr. Jonathan Fonati Koffa-led Special Presidential Task Force (SPTF) investigating the incriminating Global Witness Sable Mining bribery allegations against senior Liberian government officials and others has dispatched a five-man delegation to London to seek more evidence.
The delegation, which is headed by the lead prosecutor on the Task Force, Cllr. Daku Mulbah, comprises of other members of the tripartite SPTF, including the Ministries of Justice and State Without Portfolio and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC). They departed the country yesterday, June 15.
While in London, Cllr. Mulbah and his team will hold talks with British authorities, witnesses and Global Witness (GW) officials with regards to the case.
At least one of the foreigners so far indicted is believed to be in London, one of the financial capitals of the world.
Mr. Andres Groves, a British national and an executive of Sable Mining, which is at the heart of the investigation, reacting to news of his indictment in Liberia, said last Friday, that his indictment is “politically motivated.”
Reuters, a wire news agency, quotes Groves’ public relations firm as saying: “Andres Groves was surprised to learn from media reports that a grand jury in Liberia appears to have indicted him on unspecified charges.” He reportedly added that he had not been given a chance to respond to the charges.
It is not, however, clear if the Liberian delegation intends to urge the British government to arrest Groves and subsequently work out modalities to extradite him to Liberia so that he can stand trial for his role in the bribery allegation.
Disclosing the news that Groves, Klaus Piprek (a South African associate of Sable Mining) and Dr. Richard Tolbert (a former head of Liberia National Investment Commission) have been indicted, Cllr. Koffa, who is Minister of State Without Portfolio (With New Assignments) in the Office of the President, revealed that the SPTF was moving into the process of requesting and working with Interpol to issue arrest warrants for the two individuals—Groves and Piprek—who are not in Liberia’s jurisdiction.
He disclosed that they are now in the process of arresting them for economic and other crimes specified in the indictment.
He also stated that so far in their investigation, what they are now “uncovering is the largest conspiracy to steal the mineral resources of this country in our lifetime.”
Cllr. Koffa clarified that a second British national, Phillippe H. Edmonds, Chair of Sable Mining, London, has presently been found to be “an unindicted co-conspirator.” However, he stated that as they obtain further evidence, Edmonds’ status in the ongoing investigation could change.
Meanwhile, Cllr. Koffa, who is not a part of the five-person delegation to London, is on his way to the United States (U.S.) on what the SPTF’s media consultant, Boima J.V. Boima, said is to hold discussions with Liberian lawyers residing in that country.
According to him, the discussions will center on asset recovery issues. Boima said Cllr. Koffa had stated that the discussions will focus on how the government can recover assets and funds that have been allegedly siphoned by Liberians currently residing in the U.S.
“These trips are all in the interest of the country. Like we promise Liberians, we are not going to leave any stone un-turned in the pursuit of this case and our quest to uphold the President’s promise to fight corruption in Liberia,” Cllr. Koffa is quoted as saying.