By Kolec Jessey, CPA
Washington DC Metro, USA
We live in a time in Liberia where government officials think they can spew lies and expect to get away with it. They cast the Liberian people as being so stupid to easily buy into their campaigns of misinformation and outright lies. We need to treat their lies with the contempt it deserves. I know by now you know what I am talking about.
The latest case in point of their lies is the recent story in the press about GAC audit reports and findings. It was reported in the local media that the Minister of Justice Cllr. Christina Tah and Solicitor-General, Cllr. Betty Blamoh announced at a press conference that the audits conducted by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) lack sufficient evidence to prosecute government officials implicated in corruption.
According to the paper, “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.” That these officials could not come up with the number of audit reports that could not be presented in court illustrate their incompetence and lack of preparedness.
I wondered these two top government law enforcement officers want us to believe that they are unable to prosecute corrupt government officials because of the lack of evidence in the audits conducted by GAC. Then the first question has to be, what is the importance of having a GAC when evidence obtained in the course of their audits is not sufficient? I believe that one of most important aspects of an audit conducted under Generally Accepted Auditing Standard (GAAS) or any international standards is to obtained sufficient and persuasive audit evidence to support your conclusion. Having a GAC that does not conduct audits in accordance with acceptable standard is a waste of Liberian tax payer’s money.
Look, I know these officials are lying about the lack of evidence in GAC audit reports. But do you think these two officials know they were lying? Absolutely, yes. The whole thing is not about the lack of evidence in GAC audit reports. These officials know that there are audits conducted to express an opinion on the fairness of financial statements or management assertions while a forensic audit is conducted to be used in legal proceedings because it is investigative. This brings us to the point that most of the audits conducted by GAC are forensic and investigative in nature which should enable the Justice Ministry to prosecute criminal and corrupt officials.
Obviously, these officials are not serious about prosecuting corrupt officials because if they were they would use the GAC audit reports and findings to found the basis for prosecution. In fact, these GAC audits are forensic audits to the extent that it requires no further investigation by the Justice Ministry except that they are using “further investigation” as a ploy to not prosecute. To prove my point, take the case of the just released GAC audit report in which there were double payments made by the Board and the Management of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) to Madam Adama Barry and Mr. Charles Larma, parents of the child killed by LPRC vehicle on August 25, 2010. A member of the Board was involved in negotiating with the parents of the boy for settlement. What other evidence do they need to investigate on how the double payments were made, who it was made to and prosecute to get restitution of the money. This is no rocket science. The GAC work papers are there for the Ministry to review on all these audits. They could also have inter-government agencies coordination to develop strategies on prosecution rather than making reckless statement and lying in the media.
Beside, where has the Justice Ministry been over the past several years since the GAC has been issuing audit reports that they are just now reviewing GAC audit reports to conduct “further investigation” before prosecuting corrupt government officials? Is it because of the public outcries over the speed with which they falsely prosecuted and imprisoned Frontpageafrica journalist, Rodney Sieh, using Chris Toe as a façade that they are making this pronouncement? These people have got no shame in throwing an honest journalist in jail while these corrupt officials roam the streets of Monrovia drinking club beer and womanizing.
Well, we all know the reality in Liberia is that these officials are themselves corrupt. So how will they prosecute the very government officials they are conniving in bed with to steal from the Liberian people? So the most continence thing to do is for these officials to lie and think the Liberian people are stupid.
What really is now happening in Liberia is that we in the age of lies and false prosecution. They want us to believe that that GAC audit reports and findings lack evidence to prosecute in courts while at the same time presenting these audit reports to the international community for debt relief. They are just cherry picking GAC audits when they find it convenient to suit their needs.
These people will not stop at nothing to falsely prosecute through bribery. If you put it all together any individual or institution like Rodney Sieh, the Press, I mean certain member of the media and GAC that expose the corrupt practices of the current regime will be falsely prosecuted, reputation tarnished and jailed.
Note: In my last article entitled “Can a public figures win libel suit?” I did not mention the case that set the precedent for public officials finding it difficult to prevail in libel cases. The case was New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964). Sullivan held a public office and sued for libel in a private wrong doing against New York Times.
About the Author: Kolec Jessey is a graduate of the University of Liberia with a BA in Communications and LaSalle University in Philadelphia with an MBA in Accounting and Finance. He is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and work as an auditor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.