Inquirer Staff Report
In April 2011, Len Lindstrom, the President CEO of Liberty International Mineral Corp and the Liberty Group of Companies was a delegate at Liberia’s first LIMEP Mineral Conference, and was very excited as he had just finished winning his huge court case against the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy and gave a glowing interview telling international investors to “Take Heart, Liberia’s Mineral Sector has greatly improved and investment in Liberia is much safer!”
But the Canadian, also attending this year’s Liberia Mining, Energy and Petroleum exhibition conference is less up-beat about the look of things as another two years have passed and he has received nothing from the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy except empty promises towards returning his six mineral concessions as the Ministry was clearly ordered to do by the Courts of Liberia.
Lindstrom according to reports started his business in Liberia in June 2004 when basically all other mineral companies were less enthusiastic about investing in Liberia and he was the largest mineral concession holder in country with six companies encompassing the Liberty Gold and Diamond Mining Group, employed a workforce of up to 23 professional geologists, 300 Liberian employees and workers and spent US $20,000,000 discovering 17 gold deposits around the country, several of which indicate strong geological potential to host multi-million ounce gold deposits.
Lands, Mines and Energy often pointed to the Liberty company as a prime example of how a company should operate in Liberia as for years Lindstrom aggressively pushed the company forward with scientific mineral exploration and discovery.
Speaking on the side lines of the ongoing discussions at the Monrovia City Hall, Lindstrom reiterated that in October 2008, when his licenses were due to be extended in accordance with the Mineral Contracts, the new executive at the Ministry refused to extend them and Lindstrom began to experience what Liberians consider “Monkey Work and Baboon Draw” as he ran head-on into corruption at Lands, Mines and Energy.
He indicated that despite having paid over $1,150,000 (One Million One Hundred and Fifty Thousand United States Dollars) in mineral license fees to Government of Liberia, and conducting year round exploration for several years, the Ministry began to illegally grant Lindstrom’s properties to other companies.
After two years of trying to resolve the matter in a friendly manner with Lands and Mines, Lindstrom was left with no choice but to take the matter to Court in October 2010, and on March 11, 2011, Liberty won the court case against MLME and GOL in an historic landmark ruling when the Civil Law Court, having heard the arguments and examined the substantial weight of evidence filed by Liberty, adjudged that there was “…GROSS VIOLATION of the Fundamental rights and Constitutional rights” of the Company and ruled that “…the actions of the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy were ILLEGAL, IRREGULAR, IMPROPER, AND UNLAWFUL” and ordered all the Company’s “…LICENSES REINSTATED forthwith WITH OFFICIAL EXTENSION for a minimum of four years …with all rights and privileges pertaining thereto.”
Nevertheless, another two years have passed and Lindstrom is still waiting to receive his properties back in accordance with the Court ruling, which has caused him and the company immense hardship and also drawn serious concern amongst a lot of potential international investors.
The Ministry made an appeal to the Supreme Court but the former Solicitor General of Liberia approached Lands, Mines and Energy on several occasions and told them that there was absolutely no way they could win the case against Liberty as the evidence against the Ministry was too overbearing and advised them to return all the properties and licenses as ordered by the Court to avoid much greater embarrassment and monumental costs to Government of Liberia, but Lands and Mines refused to even obey or listen to the sound advice of their own legal counsel.
The Head of the Liberty Gold and Diamond Mining Company made a case to Liberian economic managers that he intends to lead the way for a huge traffic of Canadian investors, something he’s convinced will positively help shape the Liberian economy, but he stated that many international companies and investors are closely watching to see how the Ministry treats the Liberty case, because if a company can invest twenty million dollars ($20,000,000) and years of hard work only to have their licenses illegally expropriated after making large mineral discoveries, they know the same thing could happen to them.