In a litmus test of the independence of the country’s judiciary and at the same time a demonstration of the government’s commitment to ensure fairness in the mining sector, the Liberian jury has indicted government officials, amongst them the speaker of parliament and head of the ruling party for bribery involving Sable Mining.
According to a report filed by Reuters, the grand jury accused the defendants of bribery amongst other crimes. They defendants conspired to use their positions to amend Liberia’s public procurement and concessions law, said the indictment.
They had succeeded in changing the law to give the Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy the power to declare a concession area as a nonbidding area. However, the indictment did not specify how Sable Mining allegedly benefited from the change to the law and Reuters was unable to independently determine if Sable actually did.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Sable said the company would not comment on the accusations made in the indictment, which cover a period including 2010 and 2011.
The indictment named as defendants Sable Mining, parliament speaker Alex Tyler, Varney Sherman, a senator and chairman of President Johnson Sirleaf’s Unity Party, and Deputy Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy Ernest C.B. Jones, as well as Christopher Onanuga, a Liberian businessman. All four men were arrested in Liberia’s capital Monrovia on Wednesday and were later released on bail.