More Than US$ 800,000.00 in Government Funds Vanishes From London Maritime Office

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
April 28, 2005


Account -INMARSAT Payments to Bureau of Maritime Affairs London Account of over US$ 800,000.00 are said to have been transferred to personal foreign bank accounts. INMARSAT (International Maritime Satellite, Limited) has reportedly paid to Liberia's Maritime Office Account in London in April and November 2004, over $800,000.00 in (US dollars) through a "Subordinated Preference Certificate 2033" scheme, known as the "SPC Deed Poll". According to reliable sources, the money, almost all of it, has been transferred from the account of the Liberian Permanent Mission in London to individual bank accounts in the United States, Lebanon and elsewhere.

Liberia, a member of the then Inter-governmental Satellite Organization, subscribed to shares in INMARSAT when it was privatized in 1998 to cater to the ever growing satellite communication needs of the global maritime community. INMARSAT is now a private commercial provider of global mobile satellite communications, which includes mobile phone, fax and data communications to ships, aircrafts, vehicles and to disasters and hard to reach places all over the globe.

The payments to personal accounts significantly reduced Liberia's shares in INMARSAT. Liberia was a registered owner of EUR 994,004.63 certificates before the payments were made. Liberia was required to redeem her certificates at an issue price of EUR 462,747.87 with a redemption price of EUR 520,444.42. The decision to redeem Liberia's certificates was the result of a takeover bid arranged by INMARSAT Investments Limited of INMARSAT Ventures Limited on 29 December 2003. The payments represent shares redeemed at an agreed upon or stipulated redemption price.

The report of the alleged theft of Government's revenue is said to have occurred at the Liberian Permanent Mission in London headed by Morris Dukuly, [no relation to former TLA Speaker Morris M. Dukuly who lives and works in the USA]. Mr. Dukuly serves as Liberia’s Permanent Maritime Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The Commissioner of Maritime Affairs is J. D. Slanger and one of the communications from INMARSAT was addressed directly to Liberia Bureau of Maritime Affairs, PO Box 10-9Q42 1000 Monrovia, Liberia.

Is Commissioner Slanger aware of the INMARSAT transfer? What is the extent of his involvement? Is he prepared to authorize the release of all information or documents relating to the INMARSAT transfer? Liberia awaits a response or explanation from the Maritime Commissioner.

It can be recalled that the British Government expelled Mr. Gerald Cooper, who was Liberia's Permanent Maritime Representative to IMO in London and declared him persona non grata for alleged United Nations Sanctions busting, money laundering and other related charges. Mr. Gerald Cooper is currently working with the Maritime Office in Virginia, USA, although he is among those on US travel banlist.

There many unanswered questions and perhaps the ECOWAS auditing team could add this matter to their long list of institutions to audit. The Maritime has been the most constant source of financing for the Liberian government since the beginning of the war.

1. Did INMARSAT make these payments?
2. What was the total amount of money paid?
3. To which bank account in London did INMSART transmit payments?
4. Who had knowledge of the payments?
5. Who ordered or approved the transfers to foreign bank accounts?
6. To which foreign bank accounts were the transferred made?
7. Who are the owners of record of the receiving foreign bank accounts?
8. Who are the signatories to the Liberian Permanent Mission account in London?
9. Who signed the transfer documents authorizing the bank in London to transfer the money to foreign bank accounts?
10. Is it too late to return the stolen funds?
11. Can the British Government assist the Government of Liberia to get information from the London Bank?

What's at issue here is a very disturbing pattern by some Liberian Government officials to engage in the practice of taking for themselves thousands of dollars of government revenues without reporting the existence or origin to the National Bank or Finance Ministry or to the Government through the Chairman's Office.

For Example, it has been brought to our attention that when money is transferred by a foreign entity to the Central Bank account in New York, there no way for Government to ascertain that all of that money is transferred to Central Bank account in Liberia for use in accordance with Government's budgetary appropriation. How can Government ascertain that some of that money is not siphoned off for the benefit of a few individuals?

It is inexplicable and inexcusable that as old as we are as a nation, we have allowed a culture of corruption to develop and exist, and has now fallen below the measuring scale or radar screen, to the point that is destroying our nation.

In light of the anti-corruption fever that recently hit the capital building concerning the removal of former Speaker George Dweh and three other NTLA members, it is about time for the Ministry of Justice, the NTLA or even Chairman Bryant's office to investigate and take appropriate action against those who are implicated in this latest scheme to steal from the Liberian people. Corruption of this nature is not a victimless crime. It affects the Liberian people. We are all victims because such actions continue to deprive this nation of the ability to rebuild and to provide or restore basic services, such as running water and electricity. It is hoped that the ECOWAS Audit Team currently in Monrovia will look this latest theft of government revenues.

This paper will continue its investigations until some light is brought on the matter.