UN Investigates Maritime Funds

The Perspective

August 13, 2001

Considered as a major source of external revenue, which has sustained past and present regimes since much of the nation's economy has been shattered, Liberia's Maritime funds generated from ships flying the Liberian flag - popularly known as a "flag of convenience" - because of the country's lax maritime laws which many in the shipping industry has exploited, now appears to be in trouble.

According to reports, "a UN Panel of Experts is investigating Liberia's shipping register following allegations it is channeling funds to the Revolutionary United Front guerillas in Sierra Leone

"We are investigating the use of revenue generated by the Maritime register, as well as conduct of the (Liberian) Bureau of Maritime Affairs and how the money was used We are doing the rounds and there will be a section on maritime affairs in the report that we'll be (to the UN) in October," Reuters reported quoting an unnamed United Nations source.

"The allegations against the Liberian Bureau of Maritime Affairs, emerged in a writ filed in New York in May against the register's current manager, the US based Liberian international ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR), by its predecessor, International Registries Inc. (IRI).

"(LISCR) is a major source of Liberia's income for military aid to rebels intent on overthrowing the government in Sierra, alleged the writ."

Other sources speak of payments originating from the Bureau of Maritime Affairs account at EcoBank to San Air General Trading at the Standard Chartered Bank in Sharjah, Dubai. The sources indicate that the transactions were instructed By the Bureau of Maritime affairs in Monrovia and carried out by LISCR.

Three months ago the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Liberia for fueling the war in Sierra Leone, and its illicit trade in diamonds for guns. Since then, the Taylor regime has been under tremendous international pressure from various quarters. Its role in the "logs of war", the selling of the nation's timber resources to supply arms to the rebel RUF, is also being intensely investigated. The environmental human rights group, Global Witness, is leading an effective campaign to expose the Taylor regime, and major European firms doing business with the Taylor regime.

For subscription information, go to: www.theperspective.org
or send e-mail to: editor@theperspective.org