By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie
The man who replaces Cllr. Frances Johnson Allison as Executive Chairperson of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) following his appointment by President Sirleaf and confirmation by the Senate says the former Board Chairman of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), Mr. Clemenceau Urey is already under investigation by the LACC. Cllr. James N. Verdier told a group of journalists that the LACC considered making such decision to investigate Mr. Urey immediately upon hearing his startling revelation made at the Public Account Committee (PAC) hearing which took place at the Capitol Building recently.
Although the Governance Commission (GC), chair Dr. Amos C. Sawyer has earlier called on the LACC to probe Mr. Urey, but Cllr. Verdier indicated that the (GC) does not need to write the LACC because it has been a concluding decision to launch an immediate investigation in Urey’s admittance to bribery.
Cllr. Verdier told reporters that when the investigation shall have been completed, the LACC would release to the public its findings indicating whether Mr. Urey would be prosecuted or not.
It may be recalled that recently at the PAC hearing of the General Auditing Commission (GAC) reports of 2006/08/09 on the National Oil Company of Liberia, Mr. Urey admitted that he ordered the disbursement of US$50,000 as lobby fees to members of the 52nd National Legislature to ratify petroleum contracts that were pending at the National Legislature. The GAC report said the money was not paid to the Legislature as an institution instead it was paid to former Representatives Rufus D. Neufville and Alomiza Ennos Barr. The money according to Mr. Urey was borrowed as a loan from the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) and purportedly used for lobbing purpose.
Urey intimated that the lawmakers requested for such an amount of funds from NOCAL to rapidly facilitate the ratification of contracts before the House but GAC reports said there were no documentations to indicate that the funds were requested by the Legislators.
The payment of lobby fees to members of the Legislature is irregular and is intended to influence them thus undermining Liberia’s democracy. It constitutes bribery and also contravenes section 12.50 (1) of the Penal Law of Liberia which states that “a person has committed bribery, a second degree felony, if he knowingly offers, gives or agrees to give to another or solicit, accepts or agrees to accept from another, a thing of value as consideration for (a) The recipient’s official action as a public servant; or (b) The recipient’s violation of a known duty as a public servant”.