Over the past few months, columnist Colbert King of the Washington Post had used his columns to expose Pat Robertson's dealing in Liberia. In a series of articles King had sketched out Robertson's profit motives, and his quest to strike it in rich gold in Liberia, which has overriden any morality of doing business with one of Africa's most notorious tyrants.
What Colbert King has been writing about is Pat Robertson's desire to make profits at the expense of all else which has become a study in contrasts of a self-professed Christian, who has piously mouthed indignation at others for their alleged immoral conduct.
Rev. Robertson is not troubled or concerned at all about doing business with President Taylor, a man widely known for "fueling the violence in Sierra Leone" and "actively supporting the RUF at all levels." Taylor is a known menace to his people as well as a danger to his neighbors in the West African sub-region. The heinous atrocities he inflicted upon the Liberian people are well documented, yet Pat Robertson claims to "have no knowledge of the activities in Liberia during its bitter civil war."
But then Robertson is a man of contradictions, a self-proclaimed righteous man whose actions often betray his words. Shortly after the Sept.11 tragedy, according to GQ, an upscale men's fashion magazine, Robertson posted an odd message on his Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) web site. "The focus of many in America has been the pursuit of health, wealth, material pleasures and sexuality." He continued "Sadly, those in the churches have been as self-indulgent as those in the world."
But while he was calling into question the morality of others, Pat Robertson was actively engaged in a questionable, cutthroat gold-mining arrangement - for wealth - with Taylor, the infamous West African terrorist. And we suppose the good man of the cloth finds nothing inherently wrong dealing with a ruthless, corrupt dictator, who enriches himself while his people sink farther into squalor and destitution.
We now know that in April 1999, Charles Taylor and Pat Robertson signed a document labeled "Mineral Development Agreement between the Republic of Liberia and Freedom Gold Limited". By signing his agreement, Taylor was, in fact, assigning gold mining concession rights to Pat Robertson from an established businessman, Ken Ross II, whose Bocon Jideh gold-mining operation dates back to the Tolbert administration.
According to the GQ article, Pat Robertson has committed at least US$15 million of investment to Freedom Gold. The terms of contract call for Freedom Gold to spend about US$500,000 annually in investment and rental fees in Liberia. "The agreement gives Freedom Gold the right to mine, sell, export and explore minerals, with an additional 3 percent royalty rate to be paid to the government of Liberia."
Many observers believe the royalty payments would be pocket money for Charles Taylor, as Liberia has become "Taylor, Inc." President Taylor considers state resources, including foreign investments and development assistance funds as his personal asset.
But there is one tiny problem for the Televangelist's bloodsucker deal, perhaps not immediate; but nevertheless, a problem. And Robertson may have unwittingly entangled himself in the very issue that could unravel his gold mine and expose him to legal consequences in the future.
In his response to Colbert L. King of the Washington Post, Pat Robertson accused the columnist of ignoring Liberian political structure. He wrote, "Mr. King has ignored the constitution of Liberia, its elected Congress (Legislature), its administrative departments and its courts in order to assert that the government is an alter ego of President Charles Taylor." But this is exactly what happened when President Taylor violated the Liberian constitution by usurping legislative power and Pat Robertson knowingly went along without protest.
Under Liberian law, specifically Chapter V: Article 34 section (f) of the Liberian constitution states "The Legislature shall have the power: to approve treaties, conventions and such international agreements negotiated or signed on behalf of the Republic."
The Liberian Legislature refused to ratify the Freedom Gold agreement signed by President Taylor and Pat Robertson. So on Oct. 30,2000, a second contract, which is virtually identical to the first, except for one significant passage, was drawn up. Section 2 of the document was modified, according to GQ and Liberian legal experts familiar with the deal, to read that the contract will go in effect "when approved by the president of Republic of Liberia." Gone is the language that reads that the contract is to become valid only "in accordance with the constitution and laws of the Republic."
Clearly Mr. Robertson, a graduate of Yale Law School who was represented by Gerald Padmore, a Liberian-born Harvard Law School graduate, must know that his agreement with Taylor is unconstitutional. Also we will argue that such unconstitutional contracts are unenforceable, therefore non-binding.