US$138K ‘Embezzlement’ Delays UNDP-Funded Kokoyah Court Project

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In 2018, Judge Blamo Dixon (left) of Criminal Court ‘C’ in Monrovia brought down a guilty verdict against Semoh Group of Companies, a contracting entity owned by Moseray Momoh (right), after the Judiciary complained about the company’s failure to complete the Kokoyah District Magisterial Court project

The alleged misapplication of about US$138,269.96 donated by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for the construction, equipping and furnishing of Kokoyah District Magisterial Court in Bong County, is now denying over 40,000 inhabitants access to justice, Conde Yallah, the District Superintendent told the Daily Observer on Monday, January 21, 2019, via a telephone interview.

“We were informed by the judiciary that the project was going to take 18 months after the contract was signed in 2015,” Yallah said and claimed that since the agreement was signed on November 12, 2015, up to the present it is yet to be completed, though the UNDP had paid the amount to the Judiciary Branch of Government.

“We are temporarily using the unfinished building because the judiciary told us that the contractor ate the money for the completion, furnishing and equipping of the project, and the matter is still in court. Even, we don’t know about the status of the case in court,” Yallah said.

In 2018, Judge Blamo Dixon of Criminal Court ‘C’ in Monrovia brought down a guilty verdict against Semoh Group of Companies, a contracting entity, after the Judiciary complained about the company’s failure to complete the project, even though, the Judiciary said it had made 90 percent of the project amount, a claim the company did not deny.

Semoh Group of Companies is reportedly owned by Moseray Momoh, currently the deputy managing director for administration at the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC).

Judge Dixon later ordered Momoh to make restitution of US$48,000 as the amount of the unfinished portion of the project.

Up to the present, there is no record with the court to indicate that the money had been paid by Momoh.

The Judiciary also claimed that in November, 2015, it executed a construction contract agreement for the construction of the Botota Magisterial Court in the amount of US$138,402 with Semoh Group of Companies but, before the work could start, US$124,402 was already paid to Semoh.

Contrary to that payment, a contract document signed by Cllr. Elizabeth J. Nelson, court administrator for the Supreme Court and James P. Mator, administrative and financial manager of Semoh Group of Companies, obtained by the Daily Observer said: “The judiciary shall pay to the contractor the amount of US$55,307.98 as the first installment payment representing 40.0 percent of the agreed contract and duly inspected by the project management team or the project consultant and certified as true and correct to the court administrator.”

The document also said, “as to the payment for the second phase of this project, the judiciary shall pay to the contractor the full amount of US$48,394.49 as the second installment payment representing a total of 75.0 percent of the agreed contract price.

“This payment shall be made to the contractor upon 75 percent completion of the construction, equipping and furnishing works and upon certification and verification of that the construction, equipping and furnishing works have been satisfactorily completed by the project management team or the project consultant and, thence, upon the turning over of the newly built magisterial court to the judiciary for use.

“As to the payment of the third phase of the project, the judiciary shall pay to the contractor the full amount of US$20,740.49 as the third installment payment representing a total of 90% of the agreed contract price. And, upon 100 percent completion of the construction, equipping and furnishing works and upon certification and verification of the construction, equipping and furnishing works have been satisfactorily completed by the project management team or the project consultant and, thence, upon the turning over of the newly built magisterial court to the judiciary for use.”

On the issue about the final payment, the document said, “the judiciary shall pay to the contractor the amount of US$13,827 representing the final 10 percent payment of the agreed contract price and payable 60 days after the project has been completed and turned over to the judiciary, in order words, at the expiry of the maintenance period.”

However, in the judiciary’s complaint against Semoh Group of Companies, Cllr. Nelson claimed that despite the fact that the contractor (Semoh Group of Companies) has received a total disbursement of 90 percent of the amount of US$124,442.96 of the contract value in the amount of US$138,269.96, to achieve a satisfactory completion of the Kokoyah District Magisterial Court to 100 percent the court remains at 75 percent completion with various scopes of works as indicated in the observations, incomplete to render the court a functional one.”

Cllr. Nelson further said, “consistent with the no-cost extension granted the contract covering January 1-31, 2018, it is affirmed that the only real works on-going at the Kokoyah District Magisterial Court as of the February 9, 2018, final inspection and certification mission up to the writing of this report, was the contractor’s attempt at delivering a portion of the required quantity of the approved terrazzo tiles for the re-tiling of the building.”

Cllr. Nelson further indicated that “the outstanding balance of 10% in the amount of  US$13,827 which is retention to be disbursed following satisfactory completion and certification at the expiry of the maintenance period of 90 days is grossly inadequate to address the unfinished requirements for the court reflected by the outstanding works, and in view of the supplies noted in the storeroom in Botota.”

The parties 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.

Author

  • Anthony Kokoi is a young Liberian sports writer who has an ever-growing passion for the development of the game of football (soccer) and other sports. For the past few years, he has been passionately engaged in reporting the developments of the game in the country. He is an associate member of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL). He is a promoter of young talents. He also writes match reports and makes an analysis of Liberian Football.

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