Chairman Bryant’s administration has been accused of massive corruption.
Chairman Bryant is under tremendous international pressure to curb rampant
corruption in his administration. The level of corruption in the country has
recently prompted the international community to pen a more robust and far
reaching proposal designed to bring some sanity to government financial management
in Liberia. This proposal is called Liberia Economic Governance Action Plan
(LEGAP). The ECOWAS audit team has conducted their audit of strategic Liberian
institutions. The ball is now in Chairman Bryant’s court to act, and
he seems to be rising up to challenge and acting decisively.
Undoubtedly, Chairman Bryant has clearly decided to go on the offensive to rein
corruption. According to information reaching The Perspective, the latest casualties
of Chairman Bryant’s decisive action are the Maritime Commissioner J.D.
Slangar and the Liberian Maritime Permanent Representative in London, Mohammed
Dukuly. The information also indicates that the chairman has recalled the Comptroller
of Maritime in Reston, Virginia, Garrison Togba. J. D. Slangar, Mohammed Dukuly
and Comptroller Togba were appointed by the defunct rebel faction MODEL in a power
sharing interim government established at the Accra Conference in 2003. The Maritime
officials have been suspended pending investigation.
The information states that J. D. Slangar has been replaced with Mr. Lloyd
Kennedy, a lawyer who worked under former Commissioner Benoni Urey. Mr. Lloyd
Kennedy was a former employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before Benoni
Urey asked him to join the Bureau of Maritime Affairs. In London, Former Permanent
Representative Mohammed Dukuly was replaced with a long time Maritime employee,
ship Captain Emmet Hills.
The suspension of Mr. J.D. Slanger and Mr. Mohammed Dukuly seems to have been
motivated by alleged corruption and financial improprieties reported in the
ECOWAS audit at the Liberian Maritime including the illegal and authorized
sale of more than $800,000 INMARSAT shares (International Maritime Satellite,
Limited) sold by the Liberian Maritime Office in London. The Perspective learned
that last week Finance Minister Losenee Kamara sent a letter to the managing
partner of the Liberian Ship and Registry (LISCR), Mr. Yoram Cohen to freeze
all payments to the Liberian Maritime. Finance Minister Losenee Kamara authorized
Mr. Yoram Cohen to make all payments directly to the Ministry of Finance,
the custodian of Liberian revenues.
As a leading registrar of ships, it has become the lone and predominant source
of foreign currency for Liberia, especially during the war years. For Monrovians,
it is a prestige to work for the Bureau of Maritime. The Bureau of Maritime
positions were also highly sought after in the power sharing arrangement,
with MODEL taking the top prize and thereby increasing its staff in Liberia,
London and Reston. Today, the ECOWAS audit showed that there are more than
300 people working for Maritime, nearly tripling the size of the Bureau in
less than two years.
Many Liberians welcome Chairman Bryant’s latest action and urge the
chairman to look at the Ministry of Commerce, LPRC, Finance Ministry, the
National Port Authority, National Bank of Liberia and other government entities
accused of rampant corruption. They also argue that in order for the chairman
to be seen as a leader who is ready to combat corruption, he needs to also
take rigid action against corrupt government officials who are members of
his party (Liberia Action Party).
Some also think that the chairman’s action is too late – they
opine that the chairman should have done what he is doing now several months
ago. They feel that the action is too late because since the insertion of
the government many individuals have stolen a lot from the Liberian people,
while the chairman has been saying that there was no corruption in his government.