MAC: Mines and Communities

Liberia: Politicians and UK mining company charged with corruption

Published by MAC on 2016-06-11
Source: Reuters, MG Africa (2016-05-26)

Liberia indicts Sable Mining chief executive over alleged bribery scandal

Reuters

9 June 2016

MONROVIA - A grand jury in Liberia indicted on Thursday the chief executive officer of the London AIM-listed Sable Mining, Andrew Groves, in connection with an alleged bribery scandal involving several senior Liberian officials, the head of a special task force said.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ordered in May an inquiry into Sable's attempt to acquire an iron ore concession in northern Liberia after the watchdog group Global Witness made accusations of wrong-doing in a report.

Also on Thursday a grand jury indicted a former head of the national investment commission of Liberia, Richard Tolbert.

Groves and Tolbert "are to be arrested and brought to this jurisdiction wherever they can be found", Fonati Koffa, head of the special taskforce set up by Sirleaf, said during a press conference in Monrovia.

Four people, including Parliament speaker Alex Tyler, chairman of Sirleaf's Unity Party Varney Sherman and deputy minister of Lands, Mines and Energy Ernest C.B. Jones, were indicted last month in that case along with Sable Mining.

They are accused of having used their positions to amend Liberia's public procurement and concessions law.

The prosecution said on Thursday there was not enough evidence yet to indict former Sable Mining chairman Phil Edmonds, but said it believed it would be the case soon.

"All that it takes to get all of those involved in criminality in our country, including getting them through Interpol and or extradition, will be considered", Darkue Mulbah, the lead prosecutor for the government said.

Sable Mining said last month that it had noted "the recent media comment and speculation regarding allegations of bribery and corruption" made against the company and said it was investigating these matters. (Reporting by James Giahyue, Editing by Marine Pennetier)


Sable Mining CEO says Liberia indictment 'politically motivated'

Reuters

10 June 2016

Sable Mining Chief Executive Officer Andrew Groves said on Friday that his indictment this week by a grand jury in Liberia in relation to a corruption investigation was politically motivated.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf last month ordered an inquiry into London AIM-listed Sable's unsuccessful attempt to acquire an iron ore concession in northern Liberia after the watchdog group Global Witness made accusations of wrong-doing.

"Andrew Groves was surprised to learn from media reports that a grand jury in Liberia appears to have indicted him on unspecified charges," Groves's public relations firm said, adding he had not been given a chance to respond to the charges.

Four people, including Parliament speaker Alex Tyler, chairman of Sirleaf's Unity Party Varney Sherman and deputy minister of Lands, Mines and Energy Ernest C.B. Jones, were indicted last month in that case along with Sable Mining.

They are accused of having used their positions to amend Liberia's public procurement and concessions law. They deny the charges and have been released on bail.

"Mr Groves believes that these allegations are politically motivated ahead of the imminent presidential elections, and are specifically designed to undermine the candidacy of Varney Sherman ... and Alex Tyler," Grove's statement read.

Liberia will hold a presidential election next year to replace President Sirleaf, who cannot run again due to a constitutional term limit.

Sherman has acknowledged that his law firm was employed by Sable Mining.

The indictment alleges Tyler requested and received $75,000 to help amend the concessions law.

(Reporting by James Harding Giahyue; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by David Gregorio)


Liberia charges top politicians, British mining company in massive corruption and patronage case

http://mgafrica.com/article/2016-05-26-liberia-charges-top-politicians-british-mining-firm-in-massive-corruption-case

26 May 2016

Chairman of Liberia's ruling Unity Party Varney Sherman was arrested following allegations that he orchestrated a vast political patronage network based on bribery on behalf of London-based Sable Mining.

THREE top politicians and a British mining firm at the centre of a massive corruption scandal have been charged with “economic crimes,” Liberia’s Information Minister Eugene Nagbe said Wednesday.

Chairman of the ruling Unity Party Varney Sherman, parliamentary speaker Alex Tyler former junior mining minister Ernest Jones all face charges, along with London-based Sable Mining, according to Nagbe.

Sherman was arrested on Wednesday following allegations by campaign group Global Witness that he orchestrated a vast political patronage network based on bribery on behalf of the firm.

“The indictment for now concerns only Speaker Tyler, Varney Sherman, Ernest C.B. Jones, Chris Onunuga and Sable Mining. Other people are still being investigated,” Nagbe told French news agency AFP.

Sherman was the Liberian legal fixer for Sable, co-founded by former England international cricketer Phil Edmonds, between 2010 and 2012, as it sought to gain a foothold in the country’s lucrative iron ore industry.

Often described as Liberia’s best connected lawyer, Sherman was taken in by police after young party activists blockaded his home on Monday when officers attempted to raid it.

“He was arrested early this morning at his residence because he refused to cooperate with the taskforce set up by the president,” a security source told AFP.

Global Witness referred in their report to a fourth man charged, Chris Onunuga (also spelled Onanuga), as a fixer for Delta Mining, a South African firm which Sable bought into in 2010.

Denied claims

Sherman has denied the allegations and has said he will refuse to co-operate with an anti-grift taskforce set up by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who has herself faced criticism for alleged nepotism and corruption.

The party chairman is accused of channelling handouts and inserting favourable representatives to key posts with responsibility for licences and tenders over Liberia’s iron ore concessions.

The others charged have yet to comment publicly.

Campaign group Global Witness, which first made the accusations earlier this month, said Sable’s bribes, alleged to have mostly been paid out by Sherman, total $960,000 (860,000 euros).

Speaker Tyler “helped to get the Sable-friendly legislation through parliament”, the Global Witness report alleged, with changes that included relaxing laws on the tender process.

Presidential ambitions

He recently resigned from the ruling party and is believed to have presidential ambitions.

Tyler is listed as receiving a bribe worth $75,000 in the report.

Police had gathered outside Tyler’s home on Wednesday morning. “The Speaker of the House will soon join him (Sherman) in court,” the source added.

Sable Mining has said the Global Witness report was based on “unreliable testimony” from former business partners.

Edmonds, who resigned as chairman of the firm in 2014, along with Andrew Groves, the current CEO, “strenuously deny any wrongdoing,” they said in a statement released after the report was published.

Sable has since refused to answer calls for comment by AFP.

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