Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice will on today, Thursday, June 21 rule whether Moseray Momoh, the deputy managing director for administration at the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC), accused of embezzling US$48,000 of the US$138,402 that was intended for the construction of the Botota Magisterial Court, in Bong County, has a case to answer.
Momoh was by then chief executive officer of Semoh Group of Companies when his company in November 2015 executed the contract agreement for the construction of the Botota Magisterial Court in the amount of US$138,402 with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). But before the work could commence, UNDP had already paid US$124,402 to Momoh.
At today’s ruling, Judge Blamo Dixon will also determine whether to allow defendant Momoh and his accomplice (one James P. Mator) charged by the Monrovia City Court with misapplication of entrusted property, to go for trial on the accusation or be made to restitute the US$48,000, as demanded by the judiciary.
UNDP procurement is based on the principle of best value for money, fairness, integrity and transparency, effective international competition, interest to UNDP (economy, efficiency, equal opportunity to compete, transparency in the procurement process) among others.
The US$138,402 was donated by the Swedish Government through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to the judiciary for the courthouse construction project in Bong County.
However, before UNDP could hire the services of Momoh’s Semoh Group of Companies for the courthouse construction, Momoh by then was employed as one of the procurement officers at the UNDP, although the UNDP claimed that Momoh won its competitive bid process.
The Ministry of Public Works (MPW) also participated in the bid exercise that awarded the contract to Momoh.
But, the judiciary that owns the Botota Magisterial Court project was left out of the UNDP’s competitive bidding processes that declared Momoh’s Semoh Compay as succesiful winner to construct the courthouse.
lThe parties, (UNDP, MPW and Semoh Group of Companies) agreed to complete the construction work within 18 months following its signing in 2015, but could not be completed due to what Momoh described as intervening factors.
But, the judiciary is claiming that Semoh should payback US$48,000 of the US$124,402 that was given to him for the remaining work that he is yet to do, a decision Magistrate Peabody had earlier ruled in favor of.
Initailly, the judciary in their argument asked Judge Dixon not to reverse the judgment of Magistrate Peabody whose ruling mandated Momoh to payback the US$48,000.
Magistrate Peabody in defense of his judgment claimed that it was based on a report from the Arbitration Board set-up by the court with the agreement of both Momoh and the judiciary that awarded the US$48,000.
The Peabody judgment was rejected by Momoh’s lawyer, Amara Sheriff on grounds that the report excluded the remaining amount of US$14,000 that the parties (UNDP, MPW and Semoh) agreed to be a retention fee, which should have been given to Semoh upon the completion of the contract.
It was that judgment Cllr. Sheriff appealed against before Criminal Court ‘C’ whose judgment is scheduled for today.
The Arbitration Board then included a representative of the Ministry of Public Works, through its designated engineer, to serve as the chair that came out with the recommendation after conducting an assessment of the work done on the Botota Magisterial Court by the company said to be owned by Monseray Momoh.
Importantly, UNDP Procurement is based on competitive bidding. Depending on the type, complexity, size and value of the project and its procurement elements, commonly used methods of solicitation include:
- Request for Quotation (RFQ) — an informal invitation to submit a quotation, usually for goods/services/civil works at a value between US$2,500 and US$100,000. Prices, and other commercial terms and conditions are requested and award is made to the lowest priced technically acceptable offer.
- Invitation to Bid (ITB) — a formal invitation to submit a bid, usually associated with requirements that are clearly and concisely defined, with an estimated procurement value of US$100,000 or more. Normally price is the sole determinant in making an award. Where all technical criteria are met, award is made to the lowest bidder.
- Request for Proposal (RFP) — a formal request to submit a proposal, usually associated with requirements for services, which cannot be clearly or concisely defined, with an estimated procurement value of US$ 100,000 or more. Price is only one of several factors comprising the evaluation criteria. Award is made to the qualified bidder whose bid substantially conforms to the requirement set forth on the solicitation documents and is evaluated to be the lowest cost to UNDP. In some cases, exceptions to competition are being made and direct contracting is used. This usually happens when an LTA is in place, either globally or locally (at the country-level).
The Unit manages goods and services by liaising with project personnel on specifications, delivery/payment terms and funds availability for procurement planning; identifying the appropriate procurement methods, submitting procurement information and requests to Asset and Procurement Committee (CAP), Advisory Committee on Procurement/internal UNDP procurement committees; ensuring access to favorable prices, reliable delivery terms, insurance, impartial advice and recognition of environmental and safety considerations.
In addition, the Unit manages office logistics and Individual Contractors/Consultants, maintains and updates the roster of suppliers and conducts surveys of the local market.
Another issue was why should the UNDP and the MPW agree to pay US$124,402 to Momoh even when Momoh had not done a piece of the work.