NTGL Officials Give Conflicting Figures On Iron Ore Deal
Despite confirmed reports that the Charles Gyude Bryant Transitional Government of Liberia had sold a 50,000 metric tons of stockpiled iron ore at the Port of Buchanan to a Chinese Company-Qingdao Trading Group Corp. at US$10million dollars, new development emerging from the ranks and files of the NTGL suggests that there are conflicting figures regarding the exact cost of the ore.
For instance, the Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy, Jonathan Mason, at a recently held news conference in Monrovia, said that instead of US$10 million dollars as earlier reported, the stockpile of iron ore shipped to China was purchased from the Liberian Government at US$500,000. This new revelation by the minister seems to prop up controversy as to how much exactly was the ore sold for, since government officials-including the President of the Liberia Mining Company (LIMINCO), Ciapha Sahr Gborlie told this paper during a telephone interview that indeed, the deal was placed at the cost of US$10million. This figure was subsequently confirmed by the Chinese Embassy through its deputy head of mission, He Meng, to this paper some time ago.
It can be recalled that in the Vol. 2 # 56 edition of this paper, a lead story captioned: Liberia’s Iron Ore Shipped to China-US$10m Proceed Lands in Bryant, Others’ Pocket, it was reported that 50,000 out of 80,000 metric tons of iron ore stockpiled at the Port of Buchanan had been sold to a Chinese company by the Liberian Government through the Liberia Mining Company.
Additionally, it was furthered reported that the amount in question had been apportioned according to the “order of importance.” For instance, of the total, it was alleged that US$4.5 million was given to the Chairman of the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), Thomas Nimly Yaya on grounds that the ore was in his “controlled territory,” while US$2.5 million was appropriated as Chairman Bryant’s share.
LIMINCO, the Ministries of Justice, Commence, Labour, Lands, Mines and Energy took US$3million - with LIMINCO taking an attractive amount. Although when the President of LIMINCO, Mr. Gborlie was contacted, he confirmed the deal and the amount attached, he said, “the thing is for the Liberian Government; it is aimed at catering to workers of the company.”
The issue of selling the Liberian iron ore stockpiled in Buchanan is not a new phenomenon.
Similar transaction took place during the regime of erstwhile Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU) headed by Prof. Amos Sawyer when that administration allegedly entered into a deal with certain ECOMOG top military brass and the Nigerian Government higher-ups to sell the ore.
One account said that when former Interim President Dr. Sawyer and his cabinet held meeting at the Mansion, the issue was put forward for discussion as to how the proceeds would be distributed among the Liberian masses.
According to information gathered, IGNU Special Envoy, Dr. H. Boimah Fahnbulleh suggested that the proceeds be used to buy rice for hungry Liberians. But this did not go down well with certain government officials who already had the plan to share the bounty.
As a result, Dr. Fahnbulleh was pushed aside in the entire iron ore deal when Dr. Sawyer and some of his closest friends allegedly shared the proceeds amongst themselves. The source said, Dr. Fahnbulleh was kicked out of the whole deal because they accused him of being “a talkative” who would have exposed them if he knew.