Was Sen. Sherman’s Acquittal Verdict Influenced or Supported by the Law?

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Judge Peter Gbeneweleh of the Civil Law Court, Temple of Justice

The United States of America, through its Treasury Department, recently placed Global Magnitsky designation on several individuals including Senator of Grand Cape Mount County, Cllr. H. Varney G. Sherman, on grounds that he allegedly facilitated bribery in the judiciary; making specific reference to the  2016 Global Witness case, where Judge Peter Gbeneweleh of Criminal Court ‘C’ ruled in Sherman’s favor. 

Judge Gbeneweleh, in his acquittal judgment that was delivered on July 30, 2019, said: “This court says that the prosecution did not prove the allegation of bribery, economic sabotage, Criminal conspiracy, criminal solicitation and criminal facilitation as alleged in the indictment.”

However, just a year after Judge Peter Gbeneweleh’s decision, the United States Government is now saying that “Senator Sherman, 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.”

The case grew when, on May 11, 2016, corruption watchdog Global Witness based in the United Kingdom, published a report titled: “The Deceivers” which claimed to be an investigation into the financial activities of one Phil Edmonds and Andrew Groves.

The Deceivers report cataloged a financial scheme in which Edmonds and Groves had allegedly been involved in, through their establishment of a company called Sable Mining Africa Limited.

Gobal Witness said that Sable Mining’s executives came to Liberia in 2010, engaged the services of the law firm, Sherman and Sherman, and informed its founder, Cllr. Varney Sherman, that they were interested in obtaining mineral rights to the Wologizi Mountain in Lofa County, which has “prized iron ore deposit.”

Global Witness also alleged that when Sable Mining came to Liberia, the country was in the process of amending its Public Procurement and Concession Act of 2005, which was first enacted into law in September 2005.

They also claimed that Sherman immediately hatched a plan for Sable Mining to get the right to mine the prized iron ore deposit of Wologizi Mountain without going through a competitive tender, which was required by the 2005 Public Procurement and Concession Act.

The plan, according to the Global Witness report, was that, in the amendment to the 2005 PPCC Act, which was then undergoing review and drafting, provision would be included for “Non-Bidding Areas” which allows an applicant to obtain mineral rights in Liberia without a competitive tender.

However, also according to the report, Cllr. Sherman allegedly advised the Sable Mining executives that they have to pay bribes to Liberian’s Government officials, some of who were also defendants in the case.

They claimed that Sable Mining executives agreed and began to send funds to the account of Sherman and Sherman at the International Bank Liberia Limited, which fund was allegedly used to bribe some of the officials and to otherwise solicit or facilitate the insertion of Section 75 into the amendment and restatement of the PPCC Act of 2005, which was enacted into law in September 2010.

Further to his judgment, Gbeneweleh said, “This court holds that there is no change in the law as alleged by the Global Witness in The Deceivers, the Presidential Taskforce Report and the indictment.”

Justifying his decision, Gbeneweleh said the first witness of the Taskforce, in the person of Marc Kollie, testified before the court that the investigative team read the draft act in passing. “This court says that the draft act should have been thoroughly read and compared with the enacted law before concluding that the enacted and restated PPCC Act of 2010 had been changed at the Liberian Legislature by inserting Section 75 into the enacted law. If Section 75 was absent in the draft act, the investigators would have a reasonable belief of bribery, if any, for changing the law at the Legislature by inserting Section 75 in the enacted law.”

Gbeneweleh also ruled that the Global Witness report, the Special Taskforce Report and the indictment, it is the fact that Sherman and Sherman represented Sable Mining in Liberia and that an account for Sable Mining was created by and through Sherman and Sherman Inc. to support the project of Sable Mining in Liberia.

“The allegation of bribery as alleged, is primarily based on statement of account or spreadsheet that Cllr. Sherman sent to Sable Mining with email in August 2010,”  Gbeneweleh defended his judgment.

Gbeneweleh also ruled that the Taskforce produced to his court a statement of account or spreadsheet as at June 30, 2010, wherein it is alleged that Sherman received from Sable Mining US$400,000 which he paid as bribes to top government officials, including the defendants, to change the amended and restated PPCC Act of 2010, inserting Section 75 therein at the Legislature.

According to Gbeneweleh, during the testimony, Sherman challenged the spreadsheet and account statement as at June 30, 2010.

“He also challenged the spreadsheet to be faked and doctored because it contains illegal payment to top government officials including the defendants contrary to his actual and true statement of account or spreadsheet as of August 31, 2010, which contained legitimate business payment for his client, Sable Mining,” Gbeneweleh said, adding, “The testimony of Sherman is not denied or rebutted by the prosecution and is deemed admitted.”

Despite Judge Gbeweleh’s explanation about the prosecution’s failure to prove their side of the argument, the U.S. Government says, they took note that in 2019 the presiding judge acquitted all individuals accused of being involved in the bribery scheme, something they blame on bribery.

10 COMMENTS

  1. In a lawless Donald Trump U.S., such nonsense against countries RACIST DONALD TRUMP refers to as shithole countries, is the obvious!

    By the time HIS DONALD TRUMP’S RACIST HIDE has been dumped out of the Oval Office, that US recently placed Global Magnitsky designation on several individuals SHALL BE OVERTURNED.

    • Sadly, you’re dead wrong because you don’t understand how the US Magnitsky Act, a.k.a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is applied. Certain portions of the law is applied as administrative sanctions by the US Treasury Department, which was done in Sherman’s case. The US Justice Department also uses this law to prosecute US citizens or other foreign nationals that use US financial institutions to commit crimes. The President of the United States does not have any direct say in who gets prosecuted; that decision is left to career professionals at the US Treasury, and Justice Departments. Even after Trump leaves office, those sanctions will stay in place for a very, very long time. Sherman can kiss his assets goodbye in the United States.

      In fact, he might even be prosecuted when he comes to the US because I understand he holds US Citizenship. Holding American citizenship is good and bad. It’s good if you live overseas because it affords you the protection of the US Government. But if you commit any serious crimes overseas, you can be prosecuted by the US Government. I believe the US is using this case to send a message to Liberian officials that they’re watching.

  2. Thanks James, for your informed clarity about the Global Magnitsky Act. As the Holy Books says, where there is no vision or knowledge, the people perish. The lack of knowledge of most of our people, such as what you clarified, is the reason why Liberia is currently such a mess. I have written a few articles about the Magnitsky Acts, which can be applied to hold accountable criminal elements in Liberia, whose nefarious activities are inimical to the interest or security of the United States. Besides Senator Sherman and former Liberian passport director Wonploe, who were recently sanctioned by the U.S. government, they are not the only ones who have manipulated the Liberian courts to get away with criminal activities. One recalls a former Minister of Information in the last government who was dismissed and sent to court for prosecution for plundering government resources. A judge who was reportedly bribed dismissed the case and set the former information minister free. Even though the government took an appeal to the Supreme Court, that case is dead. He is among those presently parading the corridors of power as advisor to President Weah. With these kinds of individuals in power, do you expect anything better in Liberia? By the way my articles about the Magnitsky Act can be googled. Folks should read and be educated about the facts and stop spreading falsehood based on lack of knowledge.

  3. James

    Contrary to your supposition, Senator Varney Sherman was in America when the Trump executive order was announced, but no one arrested him. Of course, you know why… Here, Americans strive for a “government of laws, not men” as succinctly expounded by a founding father and first U.S Vice President John Adams. They wouldn’t seize assets without conclusive evidence of breaking laws regardless of the source of allegations.

    Needless to say, what passes for prosecution in Liberia may be considered persecution elsewhere: prosecutorial integrity or ethics matters.

    It means a Sable Mining case which origin and handling were widely seen as suspicious, some said malicious, may not be the horse Lady Justice would want to place her bets on. Granted that corruption undermines development, we must beware of concocted maze-like allegations, or politically motivated heavy-handedness. Growing the economy to ensure stability should be prioritized over meddling in international score settling.

    • But Mr. Moses, who do you think is posing as “James“ here? It is the same and very swine Gabriel I.H.Wiliams! After displaying as a damn liar and an idiot, he must come to legitimize stupidly believing by coming with his real name, his lies would be believed.

      A REAL FOOL AND IDIOT!

  4. Gabriel IH Williams, you have a criminal and an extremely hypocritical, foolish, bias, and dishonest mind. You are here spewing your usual rubbish about ”people manipulating and getting away with criminal activities, and they are among those presently parading the corridors of power as advisor to President Weah.“ REALLY?

    Was your tight and very silly Bassa hide blind or insane when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s most senior adviser Robert Alvin Sirleaf son of your boss former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf criminally stole up huge funds from NOCAL which made NOCAL to collapse abruptly and suddenly???

    Those cases you are alluding to here including this particular Global Witness bull dung were all politically motivated witch hunt by your war criminal boss Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. And you know it!

    Why you claiming to be a journalist never blew the whistle on Robert Sirleaf why you were at the Ministry of Information in Monrovia, or at the embassy in DC? Or you had to keep your hide shut in order to keep your job! DAMN FOOL AND HYPOCRITE Gabriel IH Williams!

  5. This is my final point to whoever you are, since you chose to hide your identity for whatever reason. Only criminals and their associates hide their identity. I speak nothing but the facts. I worked at the Information with honor and integrity. I never served in government to loot public resources. It was the minister you defend who tried to implicate me and other senior officials at the ministry in the financial scandal that bought him down in disgrace due to greed. With the help of the Justice Minister who has some kind of relationship to him, they tried to use the police investigation to implicate me and others, had it not been for the GAC audit under John Morlu. I felt so humiliated going about and you see people pointing at you thinking that you’re part of the criminal enterprise. My bank accounts were frozen during that period until I was cleared of any wrongdoing. So I known what I’m talking about. Criminals and their hangers-on will not intimidate me into silence. Evil thrive when good people sit back and fail to act.

  6. Gabriel I.H. Williams, so your alias ”James” is a criminal? You are a fool Gabriel. You are here indicting an unknown minister of information who according to you attempted to incriminate you, But for the fool, coward, and hypocrite, you are, you cannot identify him by spelling out his name.

    What is expected of you is that you counter or address what I have stated here about the then NOCAL Boss Robert Alvin Sirleaf’ who is the son of your former boss President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. whose (Robert A. Sirleaf’s) criminal acts and criminal omissions you defended and concealed while you were stooge for his mother (Ellen) at the Ministry of Information and at the Embassy in DC Gabriel, THAT, IS THE CRUX of my claim against your tight Bassa hide and your ”bird baby” mouth.!

    Instead of countering such rebuttal against you, you are here ranting about your bank account and how a ghost minister attempted to incriminate you. And with such docile mind, you claim to be a journalist. No wonder you have chosen to display your LYING AND COWARDLY PERSONALITY UNDER THE ALIAS ”JAMES”.

  7. James, stop lying or galloping into issues you have very little or no epistemological or ontological data. We have warned most of you of this avoidable reckless behavior here. Have we not? You dare write such rubbish as ”Even after Trump leaves office, those sanctions will stay in place for a very, very long time”??????

    Now, for your information and education and warning it was Donald Trump who on September 8, 2017, in a memorandum, delegated authority to alter the financial sanctions in this act to the Secretary of Treasury and the issue of visas to the Secretary of State! OKAY?, YOU BOENUAHN!

    That Act was signed into law by Pres Obama in In 2009, when a Russian tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison after investigating a $230 million fraud involving Russian tax officials. Magnitsky was accused of committing the fraud himself and detained.

    While in prison, Magnitsky was refused medical treatment for months. After almost a year of imprisonment, he and was refused medical treatment for months. He was allegedly beaten to death and died in custody. Magnitsky’s American Born businessman friend Bill Browder to up the case in America, and Ben Cardin sponsored that bill to punish the perpetrators.

    As we have pointed out supra, you do not have the epistemological and or ontological wherewithal to address any issue related to the Sergei Magnitsky Act which was sponsored in the US Senate by Ben CARDIN in 2012.

    In 2016, Congress enacted the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which allows the U.S. government to sanction foreign government officials implicated in human rights abuses anywhere in the world. And this Act takes its jurisprudential raison de tere from two of the FIVE BASES OF JURISDICTION ….THE PASSIVE PERSONALITY PRINCIPLE, AND THE UNIVERSALITY PRINCIPLE.

    The former subjects the accused to a legal system with which he may have no contact, and whose rules he has no reason to know or understand. The latter is inter alia based on the fact that the accused has committed an offense threatening to humanity or the international community. The reality of the two is that MIGHT MAKES RIGHT. Since of course, no small or less powerful country dare implement such principles against citizens of powerful states.

    AGAIN, stop lying or galloping into issues you have very little or no epistemological or ontological data. We have warned most of you of this avoidable reckless behavior here. Have we not? You dare write such rubbish as ”Even after Trump leaves office, those sanctions will stay in place for a very, very long time”?????? TAKE THAT TRASH BACK VERY FAST MR.. LIARMAN!

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