— For alleged bribery
The United States of America, through its Treasury Department, has placed Global Magnitsky designations on several individuals including Liberian Senator, Cllr. H. Varney G. Sherman, on grounds that he allegedly facilitated bribery in the judiciary and that, in one instance, he allegedly bribe his colleagues “to support impeachment of a judge who has ruled against him.”
In a release, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said it is “targeting corrupt actors and their networks across several countries in Africa and Asia. Today’s actions are taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, and targets perpetrators of corruption and serious human rights abuse.
“On International Anti-Corruption Day, Treasury remains fully committed to imposing costs on those who facilitate corruption at the expense of the people,” said Deputy Secretary Justin G. Muzinich,” the release said.
At the top of the list of alleged corrupt actors is Liberian Senator Harry Varney Gboto-Nambi Sherman, who the U.S. Treasury Department claims, “has routinely paid judges to decide cases in his favor, and he has allegedly facilitated payments to Liberian politicians to support impeachment of a judge who has ruled against him.”
Senator Sherman, according to the U.S. Government, allegedly offered bribes to be set free from a bribery case he and some other top government officials in Liberia, including former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alex J. Tyler, were connected to.
Global Witness, a British corruption watchdog, in 2015, alleged that Sable Mining Company, through Cllr. Varney Sherman, the company’s legal representative, and his colleagues conspired to circumvent the law in order for the company to get a concession to mine the Wologisi Mountain in Lofa without going through a competitive bidding process.
“Varney Sherman, now a prominent lawyer, Liberian Senator, and chair of the Liberian Senate Judiciary Committee, offered bribes to multiple judges associated with his trial for 2010 bribery scheme, and he had an undisclosed conflict of interest with judge who ultimately returned a not guilty verdict in July 2019,” the release said.
“In the 2010 scheme that led to his trial, Sherman was hired by a British Mining company in an effort to obtain one of Liberia’s last mining assets, the Wologisi iron ore concession. Sherman advised the company that, in order to obtain the contract, they first had to get Liberia’s procurement and concession law changed by bribing senior officials,” the U.S. Government further noted.
It added: “In 2016, Sherman was indicted by the Liberian government, along to several government officials, for their involvement in the US$950,000 bribery scheme.”
The U.S. Government further took note that in 2019 the presiding judge acquitted all individuals accused of being involved in the bribery scheme.
However, neither Liberian government lawyers nor Global Witness itself could prove the bribery allegations, even after more than a year of trial proceedings. Moreover there was no indication that the Liberian Public Procurement and Concessions Law had been changed, as alleged by Global Witness.
A source close to Sen. Sherman suggests that the US Treasury may have been misinformed about the alleged bribery case, in which he was acquitted be cause there was no evidence to prove bribery or to prove that the procurement law was changed as alleged.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Government said Sen. Sherman routinely paid judges to decide cases in his favor, and he has allegedly facilitated payments to Liberian politicians to support the impeachment of a judge who had ruled against him.
“Sherman’s acts of bribery demonstrate a larger pattern of behavior to exercise influence over the Liberian Judiciary and the Ministry of Justice,” it said.
The Department added: “Sherman is designated for being a foreign person who is current or former government official responsible for or complicit, or directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or in the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.”
Senator Sherman told the Daily Observer in a brief phone call that he was simply “shocked by the designation”, but would not comment further.
“As a result of today’s action,” the Treasury designation, noted, “all property and interests in property of the persons above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or otherwise exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.”
Executive Order 13818
The U.S. Department of Treasury Sanction against Sen. Sherman is in keeping with Executive Order 13818, signed by U.S. President, Donald Trump, on December 20, 2017 upholding the decision of the and all other American institutions of integrity who see it right to prevent corrupt persons, including officials of governments in other nations to not be allowed to enter America for any reason.
The Order blocking the properties of persons involved in serious human rights abuse or corruption, law and justice was issued on December 21, 2017.
“By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C 1701 et seq) (IEEPA), the National Emergency Act (U.S.C 1601 et seq) (NEA), the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (Public Law 114-328) (the “Act”), section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (8 U.S.C 1182(f), (INA) and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,
“I, Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America, find that the prevalence and severity of human rights abuse and corruption that have their source, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States, such as those committed or directed by persons listed in the Annex to this Order, have reached such scope and gravity that they threaten the stability of international political and economic systems.
“I therefore determine that serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.
President Trump said in his Executive Order that all property and interests in property that are in the United States and that hereafter come within the possession or control of any U.S. person of corrupt persons or human rights abusers, are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, or withdrawn.
Trump’s Executive Order, which empowers the U.S. Treasury Department’s action against Senator Sherman will going forward, prevent Sherman from traveling to the U.S. and all other properties he has in the U.S. are set to be seized by the government.
Of recent, Cllr. Varney Sherman’s public desination is the second, after former Passport Division Director, Andrew Wanplo who was dismissed by President George Weah, taken to Court but declared not guilty.
After sometime, the U.S. Government placed sanction on Wanplo and his immediate family.