The Special Presidential Taskforce on Wednesday disclosed that it has not found any trace of involvement of former Grand Kru Senator and Pro-Tempore of the Senate Cletus Wotorson and Montserrado County District #4 Rep. Henry Fahnbulleh in the Global Witness bribery allegation.
The taskforce also said it has also declined to recommend further charges against National Security Agency (NSA) director Fumbah Sirleaf, one of the sons of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, citing lack of evidence against him.
The Global Witness report alleged that in 2010 over US$950,000 in bribes and other suspicious payments by UK mining firm Sable Mining and its Liberian lawyer, Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County were made to several past and present government officials, including Fahnbulleh and Wotorson.
The document further alleged that Sable’s payment was in an effort to secure one of Liberia’s last large mining assets, the Wologizi iron ore concession in northern Liberia.
The report claimed Sherman told Sable that in order to obtain the contract the company must first get Liberia’s concessions law changed by bribing senior officials. The said account was backed by leaked emails and company documents seen by Global Witness.
They also claimed that a $200,000 payout from Sable’s funds labeled ‘political contribution to UP convention’ dated 22 April 2010, less than three weeks before a Unity Party conference where Sherman was elected party chairman.
At the same convention, Unity Party members elected Henry Fahnbulleh as Secretary General. Sherman opposed this and publicly demanded Fahnbulleh’s resignation. Documents seen by Global Witness showed how, on 24 June, Sable paid out US$25,000, labeled as ‘Political contribution to the former
UP Secretary General resignation.’ Fahnbulleh quit the next day. In an interview with journalists last year, Cllr. Sherman himself dismissed the allegation, explaining that he called for Fahnbulleh’s resignation because the two of them were from the same county, which was against the party’s constitution.
Both Sherman and Fahnbulleh, in separate responses, also denied money changing hands for Fahnbulleh’s resignation.
Global Witness also claimed Sherman gave Wotorson US$5,000 as consultancy fee to help change the law.
The report alleged that Fumbah Sirleaf, son of President Johnson Sirleaf and head of Liberia’s National Security Agency also benefitted from Sable’s largesse.
In 2011, Sirleaf went on a US$7,598 hunting trip to South Africa paid for by Sable, spending over US$1,000 in a gun shop alone. There is no evidence that Sirleaf provided Sable with any favors, although he was clearly a useful person to know.
However, in a release issued yesterday, lead prosecutor and Montserrado County Attorney, Cllr. Daku Mulbah said they have declined to recommend charges against Wotorson and Sirleaf because of ‘lack of sufficient evidence.’
He noted that a report detailing the initial probe conducted in the matter was among evidence submitted to the Criminal Court ‘C’ to prosecute those indicted by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County.
The disclosure, the taskforce said, was contrary to speculations and media reports that investigations of Sirleaf, Wotorson and Fahnbulleh were still continuing in the Sable Mining bribery saga.