A dramatic scene unfolded yesterday at Criminal Court ‘C’ in the biggest bribery case in the history of Liberia involving several present and past public officials, including Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County, when it was alleged that the name on the controversial International Bank Liberia Limited (IBLL) US$75,000 check was changed from Alex Tyler to Roberta Parker, a staff in the law office office of Sherman & Sherman.
An alleged record of payments totaling US$950,000 was discovered and published on May 11, 2016 by Global Witness, an international, non-governmental, watchdog organization established in 1993, under the laws of the United Kingdom.
The essence of the payment, Global Witness alleged, was to influence officials to change the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) Act that would have awarded the Wologizi Mountain, in Lofa County, to Sable Mining, a UK-based company, without going through a competitive bidding process.
The report claimed that Sable Mining acquired interest in Delta Mining, a South African company that was operating in Liberia, and subsequently hired co-defendant Sherman, as its Liberian lawyer; and it was based on Sherman’s advice that the company bribe Liberian Government officials, including former House Speaker Alex Tyler.
Out of the US$950,000, the report alleged co-defendant Tyler demanded from Sable Mining’s West Africa director Klaus Piprek US$250,000 to ensure smooth passage of the PPCC Act in favor of the company, and Tyler was paid US$75,000 through the Sherman and Sherman Law Firm’s account at IBLL.
The US$75,000, the Global Witness claimed, was withdrawn from the IBLL on August 25, 2010 by co-defendant Tyler and was confirmed on the spreadsheet prepared and submitted to Sable Mining by Sherman as payment.
The spreadsheet further alleged that the US$75,000 was paid to Tyler in his capacity as Speaker of the House of Representatives as “consultancy fees” with the intention to remove all obstacles that would have impeded the passage of the law.
The company transferred the money through the Sherman and Sherman account with IBLL, where almost all the defendants were paid for their efforts to have amended the 2010 Act.
Global Witness also claimed that the information was a leaked document from Heine van Niekerk, another executive of Sable Mining.
It was due to the report that the government insisted that the court compel the bank to produce the August 25, 2010 check allegedly paid to Tyler, who is also being tried.
When the IBLL management first appeared before the court, they claimed that they had discarded that particular August 25th check, and there was no other way it would have been retrieved by their staff.
After enough pressure on the bank, a check was later found and subsequently delivered to the court on April 4.
However, when the check was turned over to the court it did not bear the name of Alex Tyler, but rather the name, “Roberta Parker”.