Chairman Bryant Takes Action To Fight Corruption




The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
July 13, 2005

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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.