Judge Moves to Put Stop to Theft in the Name of God

The Perspective

August 24, 2001

The recent conviction and sentencing of the leaders of Greater Ministries is a triumph of truth. The head of the Greater Ministry International Gerald Payne and several of his associates were given long-term sentences by court in Tampa Florida on charges conspiracy and fraud. The world knew nothing or little about the activities of Greater Ministries International in Liberia until this paper exposed the criminal activities the company and its officials in Liberia, Niko Shefer and Felix Kramer were engaged in.

But The Perspective effort in exposing the criminal activities of Greater Diamond and its parent company, Greater Ministries International was not without a fight-back. Niko Shefer immediately responded to the article in his letter to The Perspective:

"I refer to your article July - September 1998, and note that it is fraught with inaccuracies 1. This institution is the only really active body in Liberia, and is building clinics for primary health care in the rural area, distributing container loads of medicine free, distributing clothing, food, shoes, tools, etc. free of charge to the poor in rural communities.

"2. Greater Ministries investment projects in the mining and banking sectors are targeted at creating sources of revenue which will be distributed within Liberia - unlike any other historical investor.

"3. The Tandan Group of South Africa, as well as Mr. Shefer and Kramer were opponents of the failed Amalia scam, and in fact Mr. Shefer was accused in South Africa on many occasions to have caused the collapse of Amalia for disclosing their dubious mechanisms of raising money on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

"4. Greater and The Tandan Group are the ONLY post war investors in Liberia, and were it not have been for these two Groups, the Liberian economy would have collapsed a long time ago, and probably plunged Liberia into renewed civil strife.

"5. Greater and Mr. Shefer, in particular, have been constantly and unreservedly advocating the dismissal of Dunbar, Shaw, Allen from Government in Liberia. It has been their opinion, and continuous advise to the President, Mr. Taylor, that the continued presence of the likes of the above mentioned in Government postings are a disgrace to Liberia.

"6. In fact, it is mooted that Shefer was instrumental in the dismissal of Shaw from his posting in the South African Oil Authority's consultancy posting, fundamentally because he believed, we are told, that Shaw's involvement was dishonest. (It is noted that Shefer is NOT in the oil business, and therefore has no vested interest in it).

"7. Shefer is well respected in government and business circles in South Africa, and other African countries, and has a reputation of sound business acumen and principles, maintains a very low profile, is particular about NEVER involving himself in business with any government or government officials and has no liabilities at all to any financial institutions.

"We hope that you may, for the benefit of Liberia, rectify some of the misconceptions you may have created. Bear in mind that NOBODY other than Greater and Shefer have had the guts to invest in that country, which is seen around the world as a shining example of a banana republic - at best," Mr. Shefer concluded.

Despite Shefer's defense of the Greater Ministry, its reach and influence in government was far-reaching. The Greater Diamond scheme had connection in high places as evidenced in the letter in the possession of this magazine, written on November 16, 1999, to the Board of Directors of Greater Ministry by Taylor's then Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Ernest Eastman. The minister wrote:

"I have the honour to present you my compliments, and to inform you that it has come to the attention of the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, that various organizations around the world are involved in fund raising activities, and purporting that the benefit derived therefrom are destined for Liberia and its people.

"It has been sadly noted, however, that very little if any of these donations have found [their] way to Liberia, and as a result, the plight of the Liberian people is severely abused by many of these organizations, while these contributions are used for their own benefit.

"In recognition of the trust and confidence reposed in you, resulting from your unreserved commitment to our country, and the invaluable assistance you have already rendered to our people, the President of Liberia hereby appoints the Greater Ministry Africa Foundation, as its sole agent to monitor verify all donations and funding raised for humanitarian purposes for our country.

"Please accept the congratulation of the President of Liberia," the minister concluded.

When federal marshals raided the compound of Greater Ministry International, one of the documents officials found was the article published by this magazine. This paper was immediately contacted by a counsel representing some states. The counsel wrote: "In connection with our review of documents found in Greater Ministries headquarters we happened upon an article written by the Liberian Democratic Future, entitled 'In Taylor's Liberia, Thieves are thriving and so is Corruption'. The referenced article contains several references to South African and Swiss actions against Greater Ministries Partner, Niko Shefer and his [partner], Felix Kramer. Additionally the article references specific communications and actions undertaken by Greater Ministries in Liberia. Could you please have someone knowledgeable of the contents of the referenced article contact me"

In their efforts to lure contributors to making more donations to Greater Ministry ponzi scheme, officials of the organization spoke of a "mother lode" of gold that they found in Liberia few feet below the surface, as Michael Fechter wrote:

"Between segments of gospel hymns and a smattering of prayers and speaking in tongues, Hall described a Liberian mine believed to hold the mother lode - $40 billion of gold, a mere 15 feet below the surface.

"'The money [returned to participants] will circle around every 20 days,' Hall said, adding that the Holy Ghost, not the U.S. Postal Service, would be the 'mailman' delivering the cash, even on Sundays.

"'Hang on, stay in the boat,' Hall said to those whose Faith Promises payments have stopped. 'What did you do before Greater came along?'

"Payne told the crowd that the ministry is also under investigation by the U.S. Postal Service, but that church records will never be surrendered."

The conviction of officials of the Greater Ministry International not only brings to an end the scheming nature of this organizations, but also puts on notice other organizations having criminal connections and doing business in Liberia and elsewhere.

Click the links before for related articles:
In Taylor's Liberia, Thieves Are Thriving & So Is Corruption
Greater Diamond Reacts To: In Taylor's Liberia, Thieves Ar Thriving And So Is Corruption
Gold, Diamond and Investment "In the Name of God"

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