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 Minister Samukai in Dubious Transaction

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PostSubject: Minister Samukai in Dubious Transaction   Tue Apr 26, 2011 2:57 pm

DUBIOUS TRANSACTION’








Given
the magnitude of the criminal syndicate, the GAC sounded more robust in
its concluding letter to Minister Tah emphasizing that Minister Samukai
and his alleged partners in crime must be brought to book.





Julius Kanubah- julius.kanubah@frontpageafricaonline.com
(+2316586240)


A
string of documents obtained by FrontPageAfrcica has recommended for
prosecution Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, the Manager of a rice
supplying firm and others in connection with a fraudulent transaction.



Minister Samukai was indicted by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) in a two hundred and eighty-two thousand United States dollars (US$282, 000.00) transaction involving the Defense Minister and the Supplying West Africa Traders (SWAT).


SWAT is a business firm located on the Bushrod Island and involved in the sales and supply of rice in Liberia.


In a letter addressed to Justice Minister Cllr. Christiana Tah, Liberia’s
Chief Prosecutor, the GAC revealed how Minister Samukai and SWAT are
involved in a criminal syndicate in a deal meant to supply bags of rice
to soldiers at the Edward Beyan Kessely Military barracks at Camp Schiefflin in Margibi County and Camp Tubman Military barracks in Gbarnga, Bong County.



The
GAC’s letter to the Justice minister reads: “By this letter, I bring to
your attention for legal action an irregular transaction involving the
processing and payment of a voucher from the Ministry of Defense to
Supplying West Africa Traders Incorporated (SWAT) in the amount of
US$282, 000.00”.



In
detailing the transaction to Minister Tah, the GAC noted, “The Ministry
of Defense entered into a contract with SWAT for the supply of 18, 800
bags of rice and for the benefit of the soldiers at the Edward Binyah
Kesseley Barrack in Schieffin and Camp Tubman Military Barrack in
Gbarnga, Bong County. The total contract value is US$564,000.00”.



Detailing
the transaction, the GAC narrated, “The first payment of the contract
was made in December 2010 and did not undergo review process by the
Physical Audit Unit at the Ministry of Finance, as there was no physical
audit report made on the delivery of the rice to the Ministry of
Defense”.



‘Fictitious Delivery’


The
letter continued: “On 1 March 2011, GAC auditors at the Ministry of
Finance received a disbursement voucher (DV) # MOD-011-2-15-ASU-6064 in
the amount of US$282, 000.00 processed by the Ministry of Defense in
favor of SWAT for the second payment of 9, 400 bags of rice for the
benefit of the soldiers. The voucher was accompanied by purchase and
sale contract, invoices and delivery note as evidence that the 9, 400
bags of rice were delivered to the Ministry of Defense for which payment
was being applied”.



The
GAC further observed that “On 2 March 2011, our team of auditors
through review of the transactions documents detected that the delivery
note did not represent the truth of the transactions and appeared
fictitious in that the delivery note had 9, 400 bags of rice signed for
and received by the Ministry of Defense, while the actual rice checked
delivered on 2 March 2011 (i.e. 16 days from the date of delivery made
per delivery note) was 800 bags”.



With
the observations, the GAC through its Deputy Auditor General Winsley S.
Nanka (CPA) noted that “Because of the concerns reported about the
legitimacy of the rice deals, the legal Department Director and
Executive Director of Audit Service of the GAC visited SWAT on Bushrod
Island, for the purposes of verifying some facts pertaining to the
entire rice transaction and the delivery note issued by SWAT. However,
my Auditor and the Legal Director did not get cooperation from the
Businessman because they were told that the businessman in charge of the
company should not speak to anyone from the General Auditing
Commission”.



‘Prosecution recommendation’


In
emphasizing the analysis and conclusion of the audit to Minister Tah in
a letter dated 4 April 2011, the General Auditing Commission through
its Deputy Auditor General Winsley insisted that “The conduct of the
businessman, the Minister of Defense, Brownie Samukai, Jr. and others at
the Defense Ministry amounted to fraud or default”.



The
Liberian Supreme Auditing Commission feared, “If the irregular acts
observed had not been detected by the GAC auditors, the Government of
Liberia would have incurred substantial loss on the transaction”.



Given
the magnitude of the criminal syndicate, the GAC sounded more robust in
its concluding letter to Minister Tah emphasizing that Minister Samukai
and his alleged partners in crime must be brought to book.



“In
view of this, we request that you [Justice Minister Christian Tah]
consider the evidence presented and prosecute the General Manager of
SWAT, the Minister of Defense and others who consummated the
transaction”, concluded the letter by Deputy Auditor General, Winsley
Nanka.



‘Show of disrespect’


The
prosecution recommendation by the GAC against Minister Samukai and
others is a result of a series of investigative audit and a
communication written to Minister Samukai on March 8, 2011.



The
GAC had drawn Minister Samukai’s attention to what it called “a show of
insolence by a Lebanese businessman claiming to be claiming on his
[Samukai] orders”.



It
said: “Honorable Samukai, we visited the SWAT Business Center in the
Clara Town Community to ascertain some facts concerning delivery notes
issued by SWAT Business to the Ministry of National Defense in relations
to rice allegedly supplied to the Armed Forces of Liberia and to also
verify the recipients but were told by the man identified as the one in
charge that he will not speak to anyone from the General Auditing
Commission because you had said to him not to do so”.



The
GAC protested the alleged orders of Minister Samukai reminding him
through the letter signed by its Legal Service Director and
ATTORNEY-AT-LAW Cornelius Flomo Wennah that “Let me hasten to bring to
your attention that the Executive Law of 1972 in Section 3.3 paragraph
(b) among other things give the Auditor General the authority to perform
audits of all property accounts and transactions of all government
agencies and organizations and that such audits shall be conducted as
far as practicable at the place or places where the property and records
are located”.



In
informing Minister Samukai of the authority of the GAC to audit, the
GAC sounded a caveat to him to comply with its audit as it is legally
mandated to audit all transactions involving government and there is no
exemption to anyone or any Ministry like the Defense Ministry which is
being run by Minister Samukai.



“In
of the forgoing, we ask that you kindly use your good offices to
prevail on the management of SWAT to cooperate with the General Auditing
Commission by coming to our offices by or before Thursday March 10,
2011 at 3:00pm to have us gather information on the delivery notes as
well as carry out investigation on the recipients or leave use with no
alternative but to have the management of SWAT forwarded to the Ministry
of Justice for appropriate action”.



The
General Auditing Communication informed Minister Samukai that all
communications between it and him as it relates to the fraudulent rice
transaction are being communicated to the Ministry of Finance. This it
stressed was to “request a halt to all payments to SWAT pending
compliance”.



The
March 8, 2011 letter by the GAC has now been followed by the
recommendation for the prosecution of Minister Samukai and his partners
in crime with the Justice Ministry through Minister Tah given the
evidence to institute and proceed with the prosecution.



‘Previous questionable deals’


Minister
Samukai is a strong ally of President Sirleaf who has on several
occasions served as Acting President or chair of government in the
absence of the President.



He
has in the past been linked to dubious transactions involving the
awarding of contract values over thousands and thousands of US$ to some
GSM companies as part of the rental of the New Defense Ministry building
where the cell-phone companies’ are stationing their transmittal
towers.



The
situation led to the summon of Minister Samukai by the House of
Representatives where he refused to discuss the contract in public
because of what he considered ‘national security’ implication. At the
time, the Minister insisted that he could not divulged sensitive
security information as it relates to the contract to the House in
public unless he was authorized by the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed
Forces of Liberia, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. With his insistence,
Minister Samukai and members of the House went into a closed-door
session and no detail emerged over the dubious contract with the
cell-phone companies, the Minister was left off-the-hook.



Also,
during the course of last year, the Defense Ministry came under series
of strong criticisms after AFL soldiers at the Edward Binyah Kessely
Military Barracks at Schiefflin complained of extreme hunger due to the
lack of food supply and thus they were forced to fetch for plumbs as
their daily meal.



The
reports at the time sparked widespread condemnation but Minister
Samukai rejected such, insisting the desire of the soldiers to eat plums
was not because of hunger but human nature.



In
the wake of the string of documents linking Minister Samukai and some
individuals at the Defense Ministry along with a businessman to a
fraudulent business deal, it remains to be seen what action the Justice
Ministry will institute as the GAC through its Deputy Auditor General
Winsley Nanka has forwarded Minister Samukai and his alleged partners in
crime for prosecution.



The
Justice Ministry it must be noted has in the past received several
audit reports from the General Auditing Commission but in most instances
no practical action has been taken to prosecute individuals indicted by
the GAC for fraud, waste and abuse. This has made many skeptics to
lament the government’s lack of political will to bring to book
individuals who misapplied, abused and misused state resources without
the benefit of hundreds of thousands of poverty stricken. It has also
led to question over President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s professed war on
corruption which she declared public enemy # 1. Many like Human Rights
Activist Aloysius Toe believe ‘corruption is public friend # 1 to
President Sirleaf and her government.
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