Four former government officials, along with a petroleum company, Aminata and Sons Incorporated, accused of misapplying over US$5million,when they supervised the sale of the Japanese Oil Grant, have pleaded not guilty, at the Criminal Court ‘C’ last Friday, during their arraignment, securing a US$2m bond.
No date was set last Friday as to when the defendants would reappear at the court for further hearing of their multiple crimes case, including economic sabotage, misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy, criminal facilitation and violation of required PPCC procedures.
The bond, approved by Judge Blamo Dixon, was secured on behalf of former Minister of Commerce and Industry, Miata Beyslow, former Director, Division of Price Analysis and Marketing focus person Japanese Oil Grant at the Ministry of Commerce and industry, Steve Flahnpaye, former Managing Director and Deputy Managing Director for operations and implementing agent person for the Japanese Oil Grant of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), T. Nelson Williams and Aaron J. Wheagar, Accident and Casualty Insurance Company(ACIC)
The oil grant provided by the Government of Japan to Liberia was intended to boost government’s economic and social development, which proceeds state lawyers claimed were diverted by the defendants.
Before securing the bond, Wheagar was the only person in custody for eight days at the Monrovia Central Prison, while the other defendants were lobbying with the insurance company for their bond.
Wheagar was released late Friday after US$2million bond was secured by ACIC.
In the bond, the insurance company assured the court that it will ensure the defendants’ day to day appearance until the matter is finally determined.
It further assured that the defendants would remain under the jurisdiction of the court and if the defendants were to be convicted they would surrender themselves into the custody of the sheriff of the court.
According to the indictment, during the period of August 2011, the defendants in various capacities and in total violation of the statutory laws of Liberia, made and provided with criminal and wicked intent deprived the Government and the people of Liberia their just benefits.
The indictment further indicated that portion of proceeds required by the distribution and sale of the Japanese Oil Grant valued at US$13,083,350.00 (the equivalent of one billion, one hundred million Japanese yen) donated by the Japanese Government to the Liberian Government for the supply of an expected quantity of 15,000MTL of petroleum products was knowingly, feloniously and intentionally stolen away by the defendants for their use and benefits.
The indictment said the defendants exercised an unauthorized control over the petroleum product that was meant for the citizens of Liberia’s economic and social development, and converted the total amount of US$5,764,110.84.