John Morlu Rebukes: Chris Toe, Deputy Minister Of Information, Justice Minister, and Solicitor General

By John Morlu II
Washington DC Metro, USA

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
September 5, 2013


President Sirleaf said, "To tell you the truth, it frustrates me. This is one thing (corruption) that is holding us back right now in terms of the progress of this government," AFP, 'Liberian president says corruption holding country back,' May 27, 2009.  Instead of being frustrated,  just take action by firing and prosecuting. Don't allow people like Chris Toe to walk away free and then go on to sue on the grounds that he has not been prosecuted by the President for corruption, when it is clear as light of day he is "walking guilty." This is my own only advice to President Sirleaf.

President Sirleaf said this in her keynote Speech at VOSCON's opening of its Forensic Audit Section: "This is why we say to the Auditor General that if he had said that inherited corruption in the country is three times more than we all had anticipated, we would have readily agreed with him," March 7, 2008.

As you can see, both former AG Morlu and President Sirleaf agreed that corruption is the number one issue that has retarded Liberia's growth. Also at the time  former AG Morlu made the statement that the government was 3x corrupt, he and President Sirleaf agreed on the 3x. The only difference between them was that President Sirleaf said former AG Morlu should have qualified his statement that her government "inherited the corruption that was 3x." Fair enough.

I have tried my best to move beyond GAC...after 2 years and still they are fighting audit reports.  I am still an Auditor, running a CPA firm in Virginia. In our profession, our standard in auditing for audit evidence (PCAOB, Auditing Standard No. 15  and AICPA, AU Section 326, U.S. Yellow Book, Chapter 7 and INTOSAI , ISSAI 1500)  is "sufficient appropriate evidence," meaning audit evidence must be persuasive, unlike the pre-Enron era where the standard was "sufficient competent evidence," meaning evidence was only supposed to be convincing (inter alias preponderance).

That said, I will do what I do best: present the facts, the law and a simple logic to connect them. I will just focus on the statements made by Dr. Chris Toe, Deputy Information Minister Jackson, Minister of Justice Tah and Solicitor General Blamoh. And then I will use "analytical reasoning," or as we call it in audit "analytical procedure" to expose them. Analytical procedure is usually one of the strongest audit evidence, as you are using statements by officials and figures presented by them to detect irregularity. Is like someone using your own words against you.

I will state the position statement of the person, then provide an answer. I will begin with Dr. Chris Toe, then Deputy Minister of Information, then Minister of Justice and Socilitor General. In order to add further evidence to my points, I will use statements from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Again, only the facts, the law and logic will prevail. I really like to see this debate on the facts, the law and logic. If you say former AG and GAC broke auditing standards or any professional standards, provide evidence. If GAC misrepresented the facts,  state the facts that were misrepresented. Shame and name GAC! But just do not talk without first taking the time to read.

Dr. J. Chris Toe
Chris Toe, One
"Firstly, Dr. Toe added that the conduct of the audit was wholly unprofessional, erroneous with misrepresentations and seemingly undertaken in a rush to judgment in order to tarnish his reputation and stellar record of service at home and abroad."

Answer: This is the standard response by all those implicated in the audit reports.  Let Liberians compare the education, professional credentials and global experience of former Auditor General Morlu and those always saying "unprofessional."  Nearly 20 years of international experience with reputable firm in USA including Unisys, BearingPoint/KPMG etc.

There is no evidence that Dr. Toe has conducted a Peer Review on the Guthrie audit to support his assertion that the audit was unprofessional. Dr. J. Chris Toe also has not referenced a single professional violation in auditing standards (INTOSAI, IFAC, AICPA Clarity Standards, PCAOB Standards). Former Auditor General Morlu is member of the following: Center for Audit Quality Member, Governmental Audit Quality Center Member, National Peer Review Committee.

No was evidence provided by Dr. Toe to support his assertion that audit was "seemingly undertaken in a rush to judgment in order to tarnish his reputation." This seems a personal opinion, not a fact. Dr Toe further says the audit was composed of "erroneous with misrepresentations." If the audit reports are as bad as he claimed, he had the right to sue former AG Morlu and GAC, not FrontPage Africa. Dr. Toe has not provided a single instance of misrepresentation in the audits. Instead he is just "talking and talking."

In the audit report, Dr. Toe explained that all the documents were burned at Guthrie. His financial man for Guthrie, Mr. Lodean C. Teage, said says he submitted all the reports and documents to Dr. Chris Toe at the Ministry of Agriculture. The Ministry of Agriculture did not suffer any peril of fire, as Mr. Toe wants to blame his failure to submit documents on the “fire incident” at Guthrie. Also in the audit, Dr. Toe said he removed the Task Force and unilaterally expended the funds because of "national security interest," although he is neither National Security Advisor nor NSA Director. But granted that to be the case, where are the documents to support his explanation that he used the money on "national security interest"?

When people at Enron destroyed documents to conceal material fraudulent financial transactions, they went to jail. If Chris Toe was at Strayer University and was given $1 million to spend on programs and later could not provide documents to support the spending, he would be charged with misappropriation and obstruction of government business  and send to Court.

Chris Toe, Two
"Secondly, the GAC admitted that the audit was not properly done and there were shortcomings, which brought into serious questions its findings and conclusions according to Dr. Toe."

Answer: Same answer as above. But if he believes this, then why did he not sue former AG Morlu and GAC? GAC is a government institution, a Constitutional office as in Article 89 of the 1986 Constitution. GAC reports are official public document.

If a newspaper reported from audit reports, and then it is argued the report has shortcomings, that is not a problem of the newspaper. Instead the injured party (Dr. Chris Toe) should have sued the GAC to have his name clear and shame the GAC. Section K-3, subpart 3 of the Public Financial Management Regulations (2009) states, "A person aggrieved by a disallowance or surcharge made by the Auditor-General may appeal to the Supreme Court." Perhaps, Dr. Chris Toe has not bothered to read the law and determine all available legal means. I put that Section in the PFM Regulation, signed by then Finance Minister Augustine Ngafuan.

Chris Toe, Three
"Thirdly, he noted that the GAC did not have the mandate to investigate a task force jointly organized by the government and the United Nations, which operates under a supra-national agreement on Liberia. "

Answer: Dr. Chris Toe was managing millions of public money and he says the supreme audit institution of Liberia, GAC  cannot audit his Task Force. Contrary, GAC is clothed with the legal authority to audit all government monies. GAC scope is indicated in Section 53.1 of the Executive Law of 1972. Chapter 53 of the Executive Law of 1972 stipulated the mandate, meaning what GAC can audit: Section 53.1 : Definition reads, "As used in this chapter:-
(a) "The term ''Government Agency", means every ministry, bureau, board, Commission, institution, authority, organization, enterprise, officer, employee, or other instrumentality of the Government including commonwealths, cities and townships and other local authorities political units of the Republic;

(b) "The term "Government Organization" means every enterprise, authority, monopoly, factory, or other industrial or commercial facility, corporation, utility, company, lending or financial institution, or other instrumentality which is wholly or partly owned by the Government. 

It seems, once again,  Dr. Toe has not read the law governing audits in Liberia. Guthrie was an instrumentality of Government as it was " wholly or partly owned by the Government." If Dr. Chris Toe argues otherwise, then why was he appointed by the President to head the Task Force, before he unilaterally abused his power and mismanaged the funds?  Herein lies the issues: If Dr. Toe believes that GAC did not have the mandate to audit, then why did he not run to Court to stop GAC, as he so willingly ran to the Civil Law Court to sue FrontPageAfrica/Rodney Sieh/Samwar Fallah?

Information Ministry
Isaac Jackson, a Deputy Minister of Information also said the Guthrie Audit was 'unprofessional'. and "needs further investigation "to prosecute anyone,  a standard response to any investigation or audit that implicate a" protected" person in Liberia. The Deputy Minister said he has reached this decision because people in Liberia and Diaspora have raised some issues with the audit reports, as though hearsay is the most reliable evidence to rebuke an official audit report.

Answer: (1) Audit reports conducted by the same GAC and Auditor General were relied upon and the Government gladly submitted to the World Bank, IMF and international community to complete HIPC and get $4.9 billion in debt relief. (2) Audits conducted by GAC were used to prosecute Musa Bility for Tax Evasion, former LTA Chairman Albert Bropleh, and Marc Jusu Passawe and his brother, who forged President Sirleaf's signature to steal $1.1 million in illegal wire transfer from Central Bank of Liberia and EcoBank.  For the record, all the three GAC audit reports that the Ministry of Justice has used to prosecute have resulted in a guilty verdict. Government has not lost a single case on GAC audit reports.

Anyway, what auditing standards (yardsticks) being used by them to reach their conclusion. Or is this just another instance when they are boxed in the corner they yell out loud the same rhythm: "Unprofessional, Political and Witch Hunting?" But again, if all the reports are unprofessional, then why are they not suing AG Morlu and GAC? Instead they are suing the newspaper, FPA and others that carried contents of official reports?

Minister of Justice Christina Tah and Socilitor General Betty Blamoh

Tah and Blamo, One
"Authorities at the Justice Ministry have announced that audits conducting by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) lack sufficient evidence to prosecute indictees. At a press conference in Monrovia on Wednesday, both Justice Minister Cllr. Christina Tah and Liberia's Solicitor-General, Cllr. Betty Blamoh, said the legal department of the ministry is currently reviewing audit reports presented by the General Auditing Commission for possible prosecution. However, they noted that some of the audit reports do not have basis to be used in a court of competent jurisdiction against anyone or institutions. When asked to state the total amount of audit reports in the possession of the Justice Ministry and those that cannot be used in court, the two senior officials categorically failed to give detail, but emphasized that the audit reports from the auditing house need further investigation, if government is to go after those individuals and institutions being held accountable by the GAC," New Dawn, 5 September 2013.

Answer: This is not new information. This has been a standard Government response on all audits and investigative reports. No details of the problem audits. Another call for further investigation. All designed to protect the "golden geese" in the Government. Below are facts/law:

Fact 1: Minister of Justice told LACC that there was no sufficient evidence to prosecute former Police Director Munah Sieh. After LACC conducted further investigation, the Minister of Justice still argued there was lack of sufficient evidence to prosecute. LACC got tired with the back and forth and took the case against Director Sieh to court. LACC won, as jury rendered a guilty verdict. So GAC is not unique.

Fact 2: President Sirleaf appointed Justice Minister Tah to head an investigation into the procurement corruption scandal (Zakhem Contract) that led to the dismissal of Harry Greaves. In her report, Justice Minister Tah stated that Mr. Harry Greaves and Mr. Aloysius Jappah committed a crime of bribery. But then Minister of Justice indicated in her press conference that she was waiting for direction from the President and the Board of Directors of LPRC  to give her the go ahead to pursue a criminal case against Mr. Harry Greaves and Mr. Jappah. 

In an "Unclassified but Official Use Only" cable from the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia, dated Friday, 11 Sep 2009 13:02 UTC, written by Deputy Mission Chief Brooks Robison, entitled 'Liberia: President Dismisses Oil Company Head Amid Corruption Scandal,' it  states:

" President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf dismissed the head of the state-owned Liberia Petroleum Refining Corporation (LPRC) on  September 5, following a Ministry of Justice probe into the alleged acceptance of bribes in exchange for a USD 24.8 million concession. Sirleaf's sacking of a long-time advisor and confidant illustrates the pressure she feels to demonstrate zero-tolerance toward corruption.  The action also signals that the checks and balances introduced to the concessions process since 2006 do indeed leave would-be crooks less opportunity to cut side deals for their personal enrichment."

"The Zakhem affair was the second time Greaves unilaterally concluded contracts of an ambiguous or un-transparent nature.  In 2007, he announced a deal for Nigeria to supply 10,000 barrels of oil to Liberia.  The Legislature questioned the contract, and the media cried foul when Greaves refused to disclose the price of the oil or the terms of the contract. While the GOL ultimately cancelled the deal, the President did not sanction Greaves."

The Informer Reported, "Though President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has fired the Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), Harry Greaves, whether he will face prosecuted or not, now lies in the realm of the LPRC's board of directors. The Liberian leader late last Thursday booted the petroleum boss out of her government for his involvement in a bribery scandal surrounding the LPRC-Zakhem agreement,", 8 September 2009,

Where in the world does a Justice Minister/Attorney General wait for instruction from the President and the Board of Directors to prosecute people the Justice Minister investigated and stated that they have committed a crime of bribery. Is there not sufficient evidence in Justice Minister Tah's own investigation of the procurement scandal at LPRC?

Fact 3: It has been nearly 6 years and the Ministry of Justice is still on the same old argument "further investigation." In Liberia's parlance, "further investigation" means no action at all in any case (institution/person) the Government has vested interest. The entire time Morlu was Auditor General, there is not a single day that the Minister of Justice communicated to him that this or that report lacks evidence. Morlu has been gone for nearly 3 years and the Justice Ministry is still arguing and arguing for the need for further investigation.

But here is what President Sirleaf said during the campaign in October 2011, "Those General Auditing Commission reports will be used. I have the report from the ministry of justice now. I just got it a month ago because they took all those reports and set up a committee to go through them to see which ones represent those that can go to court, which ones represents people that will be required to pay back, which ones they felt the evidence was not strong enough.

"They gave it to me about a month ago, the only thing is if I had moved on it right away in this particular period it would have been a major distraction from all of us who are campaigning. I have it on the top of my list, right after inauguration day when I’m finished with that, I’m coming right back on that and all of their recommendations I will start to move on it. And some people will go to court; some people closed to me will go to court, "FrontpageAfrica, Saturday, 01 October 2011 22:02.

That was October 2011. Minister Tah and Socilitor General Blamoh are calling for more investigation on September 4, 2013. President Sirleaf, " I have the report from the ministry of justice now. I just got it a month ago...." meaning Justice Minister Tah finished her investigation of the audits and submitted her report to the President in September 2011. That was 2 years ago!

Fact 4: Moore Stephens, the international auditing firm, was contracted by the Government of Liberia to audit the Concessions. Moore Stephens indicated in the report that ONLY 2 of the 68 contracts that it reviewed met the minimal legal requirement. The remaining 66 or 97% were illegally entered into and were marred with irregularities. This not GAC report. This is Moore Stephenson Report.

Reuters reported, " Almost all the $8 billion worth of resource contracts signed by Liberia since 2009 have violated its laws.. which showed that just two out of the 68 contracts audited adhered to Liberian law, " quoting Moore Stephens, " Overall, we encountered a significant lack of cooperation from Government Agencies involved in the award process and faced major delays in obtaining documents."

The Justice Ministry advises the Government on all legal matters relating to concessions and the Justice Minister is a signatory to the concessions. If the Ministry of Justice can allow the Government to enter into illegal concessions and contracts, how can they accurately and reasonably advice the Government of Liberia on audit matters, a matter in which they are not subject matter expert? Go figure! Not a single person has been held accountable for signing 66 illegal and irregular concessions.

Tah and Blamoh, Two
"Minister Tah told the news conference that there are procedural lapses in the manner and form the audits were conducted, placing the ministry in a difficult position to legally pursue the alleged doers for the misappropriation of government's funds and properties," New Dawn, 5 September 2013.

Answer: Minister Tah and Solicitor Blamoh have not provided a  single evidence of a procedure lapse. In auditing, it is the auditor that performs the risk analysis, conducts the analytical procedures before and after, develops the audit plan, prepares the audit program, determines the appropriate audit procedures, executes the procedures, gathers the evidence, analyzes and evaluates the evidence, prepares and submits the draft to management, evaluates management responses, holds an exit conference with management to discuss the report, finalizes and issues the final report.

Liberian law is clear as to who is responsible for procedures. Chapter 53, Section 53.3 (f) of the Executive Law of 1972, which is the law that governs the GAC stipulates that the Auditor General shall "prescribe auditing standards and develop and implement auditing procedures, methods, and techniques appropriate to government accounting practices."

In the performance of the audit, auditors are guarded by auditing standards...most widely accepted ones being: PCAOB, AICPA Clarity Standards, U.S. Yellow Book, INTOSAI and IFAC standards. GAC audits were conducted on INTOSAI Standards. Can the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General give some examples of the "procedure errors" in violation of auditing standards, since they know more than former AG Morlu who is a member of National Peer Review Committee, Center for Audit Quality, and Government Audit Quality Center.

Tah is claiming ‘procedure error,” but did not claim “procedure error” when she prosecuted Musa Bility in the tax evasion case she won. It was my audit that discovered Bility.  It is important to state here that the Government has won on all three GAC’s Report taken Court, indicating that I indict people in my audits on the sufficiency of evidence, and have zero tolerance for “procedure error.”

Tah and Blamoh, Three

During the press conference, Solicitor General Blamoh also argues that the Auditor General and GAC are not supposed to make recommendation for prosecution.

Answer: Let her read the law. Chapter 53, Section 53.7 (e) of the Executive Law of 1972 stipulates that the Auditor General shall report, "Inadequate or ineffective internal control of public monies and assets. When appropriate, the report shall also include recommendations for executive action or legislation deemed necessary to improve the receipt, custody, accounting and disbursement of public monies and other assets."

Can Minister Tah and Solicitor General Blamoh inform the Liberian people what "recommendation for executive action" means? It means the Auditor General, if he finds it appropriate, can recommend anyone for prosecution, dismissal, suspension, restitution, etc. There is no limit, within reason, what the Auditor General can recommend to the Executive Branch of Government for action. It is left with the Executive Branch to accept or reject the recommendations. Just as the Ministry of Justice  did not properly read the concessions to advice appropriately, they have again failed to read the law governing the GAC.

The following sections are self explanatory:

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: State of the Nation Address and Interview With FPA

State of the Nation Address, Monday, 25th January 2010
"In its fight against corruption, the Government of Liberia continued to support the work  of the General Auditing Commission (GAC), which has produced 25 audits, including the first set of audit reports of five Ministries – Finance, Public Works, Education, Health, and Lands and Mines – as required by our debt relief HIPC program. This is the  first time in the history of Liberia wherein audits are sent to the National Legislature and  are publicly distributed, which is a major demonstration of this Government’s  commitment to fight corruption. The bulk of these audits have been reviewed by me and forwarded to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution where applicable."

State of the Nation Address, Monday, 24th January 2011
"For our part as a government, the first stage in fighting corruption was to expose and  uncover it. To do so, we needed a strong and independent audit mechanism. This is  why, while serving as Chairman of the Governance Reform Commission in the Transitional Government, I personally prepared the Act that made the General Auditing  Commission (GAC) an independent institution, operating without fear from the powers  that be. This led to the creation and the activation of the General Auditing Commission, which has been unwavering in its commitment and dedication to the fulfillment of its  mandate.

"As a result of 44 audits conducted by the GAC, or investigation by other concerned  institutions, 21 persons from the Executive have been suspended or dismissed. The  justice process has been ineffective and slow. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Justice has  taken three high-profile corruption cases before the courts, won 1, lost 1, and the third  case ended in a hung jury. Because of the progress that Liberia has made, we moved  41 places, from 138 in 2008 to 97th place in 2009, on the Global Corruption Index, and  more recently moved 10 places, from 97 to 87, on the Transparency International Index."

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Interview with FPA, Saturday, 01 October 2011 22:02

"Let me put it this way. We have done enough to fight corruption more than any government in the history of our land. First of all, corruption became an issue because we made it an issue. That’s why today it is being discussed. But we look at corruption and we looked at two aspects: There’s prevention and there’s punishment. We have done all that needs to be done, if not all, nearly all that needs to be done on the prevention side, that is the more effective side, including compensation to reduce vulnerability, building the institutions, putting in systems, putting in the laws and the policies, all of those things have been done. The one side where we are still weak is on the punishment side.

"People talk about the General Auditing Commission reports. Those reports are there, they have not disappeared, they have not been buried, that’s the punishment now left. We have to now turn to the judiciary. So we cannot interfere with the judiciary but we are trying to change some of the laws. In the jury system, the law is there, I hope the lawmakers can pass it before they go to change the jury system. But again, I say, if the Liberian people gives us a second chance, punishment is going to be a priority. "Those General Auditing Commission reports will be used. I have the report from the ministry of justice now. I just got it a month ago because they took all those reports and set up a committee to go through them to see which ones represent those that can go to court, which ones represents people that will be required to pay back, which ones they felt the evidence was not strong enough.

"They gave it to me about a month ago, the only thing is if I had moved on it right away in this particular period it would have been a major distraction from all of us who are campaigning. I have it on the top of my list, right after inauguration day when I’m finished with that, I’m coming right back on that and all of their recommendations I will start to move on it. And some people will go to court; some people closed to me will go to court, "FrontpageAfrica, Saturday, 01 October 2011 22:02.

Many Government Institution Reports have Met Same Fate as Audit Reports--NO Action

Many of Ellen Sirleaf's Own Commission Reports have Met Same Fate as Audit Reports--NO Action

Many International Reports Have Met Same Fate as Audit Reports--NO Action

International Crisis Group
International Crisis Group, well respected global institution where General Wesley and Colin Powell have served as Board members said this about John Morlu:"(Morlu) is widely praised by Liberians and diplomats alike for his attempts to transform Liberia’s public finance management culture. While it is the president’s prerogative to hire and fire public officials, her choice of replacement will be key to sustaining the gains made by the GAC under Morlu’s leadership," Africa Report N°177 – 19 August 2011.

In no small measure, the latest outburst by the Deputy Minister of Information, the Minister of Justice, and  the Socilitor General, clearly confirmed that the Government of Liberia has been supporting Dr. Chris Toe in the fight to shut down FPA. Dr. Chris Toe, the Deputy Minister of Information, the Minister of Justice, and the Solicitor General are using the same standard language, coordinated by the Executive.  Unless someone wants to pretend on the issue, the whole FPA saga is Government business, as it was planned and coordinated by the Executive.

Sometimes, one wonders some officials in this current Government are just deeply corrupt and unredeemable, or are grossly incompetent, or both?  Information Minister Lewis Brown has argued that the case Dr. Chris Toe v. FrontpageAfrica is a private matter but then key government Ministry (including Ministry of Information) are taking every step to discredit the reports that FrontpageAfrica relied to report on the corruption activities of Dr. Chris Toe.

Giving these revelations, this fact is not in dispute: FrontpageAfrica relied on GAC reports, which are official government reports. FrontpageAfrica's Rodney Sieh should be released and the matter revert to status quo: Between GAC and its Government. Why punish a man for a Government report?

Some have quoted Article 21 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia to argue that the punishment against Mr. Sieh is "excessive" and in violation of Article 21. Rodney Sieh is in prison for 5,000 plus years,  more than all the people ever convicted in international court for human rights violation and crimes against humanity. When you tell any American or European or even an 8 year old Liberian that Mr. Sieh could spend 5,000 years in jail, they will say what? Essentially, Mr. Sieh's punishment is not just excessive. It is cruel and unusual for any criminal violation, much less in a civil matter as the case with Mr. Sieh. Charles Taylor said he was "indigent." America and the developed world spend millions to defend Charles Taylor. UN Panel of Experts and others were hired to investigate the well about of Charles Taylor's asset.

Instead of  the Government's vain attempt to justify Mr. Sieh's punishment by coordinating with Dr. Chris Toe to discredit GAC and its audits, what is the Executive Branch's position on the cruel and unusual punishment of Mr. Sieh? In America and the civilized world, when someone is unable or unwilling to pay a debt or a fine, his/her wages are garnished or the person can just stand in front of the judge and say, "I am filing for bankruptcy," and that is it. O.J. Simpson just told the Court, when he was found guilty in the civil court to pay damages for the death of his former wife and Mr. Goldman, that he did not have any asset or money. O.J Simpson was not thrown in jail for his inability to pay. In USA, some people just put their assets in Trust to prevent the Court for getting it. This why Courts hire Forensic Accountants to track down assets of people who have to pay damages.  

Free Rodney Sieh and go after GAC.  

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