By Abednego Davis
Dr. Paul Jourdan, a South African geologist and mining expert from the Governance and Economic Management Assistance Program (GEMAP) sponsored by United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in collaboration with other experts who proposed the new section into the 2005 Act; section ’75’, which was later amended in 2010, is among several international expert witnesses to testify in the ongoing US$950,000 alleged Global Witness reported bribery scandal.
Dr. Jourdan, according to Criminal Court ‘C’ records, collaborated with a Ghanaian lawyer and mineral expert, Dr. Fui S. Tshikata, who will also testify, came to Liberia under the USAID’s GEMAP program through the International Business Initiative of the State of Virginia in the United States of America to carry out the amendment.
Also, Dr. J. Christian Ngot Konglo, a Ugandan mineral and mining expert, who was sponsored by the European Union (EU) offices in Liberia to assist the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) with the drafting of the interim procedures for the issuance of mineral exploration license without tender, which led to the issuance of the PPCC’s regulation No. 002 of the controversial Section ’75’, is also expected to testify over the matter.
The request was issued to the court on Wednesday, December 12, 2018.
It was not clear when the court will issue the subpoena, especially to those foreign experts, who currently reside in foreign lands, “because the court has to use the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to communicate with their counterpart to ensure the appearance of those witnesses.”
Global Witness in 2016 released a report – The Deceivers – and accused Senator Varney G. Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County then lawyer of Sable Mining Africa Limited, a UK mining company, of receiving more than US$900,000 to bribe senior government officials in an effort to change Section ’75’ of the PPCC law for the sole purpose of granting the company a non-bidding right to the Wologizi Mountain in Lofa County.
It was against Global Witness’s report that the government indicted Senator Sherman and several public officials of multiple criminal charges that included economic sabotage and bribery, of which accusation Sherman and the other defendants have asked the court to subpoena the international and local mining experts to testify as to whether there were any changes made to the PPCC Act.
Also, Heine Van Nerkierk, a South African national and former executive of Sable Mining, would testify whether he actually gave a spreadsheet and matrix that should disburse some of the money that was given to defendant Sherman for onward payment to co-defendants Alex Tyler, former House Speaker Richard Tolbert, former chairman of the National Investment Commission (NIC), Senator Morris Saytumah of Bomi County, and Willie Belleh, former PPCC chairman, as bribe to facilitate the changing of the Act, according to prosecutors.
Former Montserrado County District# 4 Representative and former secretary general of the erstwhile ruling Unity Party Henry Fahnbulleh, who was listed in the spreadsheet and matrix as one of those who allegedly received US$25,000 from defendant Sherman as part of the bribe, was also subpoenaed to testify.
Current Deputy Minister for Planning Carlton Miller of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, who by then was in that very position, is testifying about a recent statement he made during his confirmation at the Senate where he said he was involved and knowledgeable about the process of amending the Act.
Others who are expected to testify are Joseph Neufville, executive director of the PPCC from 2006 to 2009, Mrs. Esther Paegar, former co-chair of the PPCC, as well as Lawrence Kennedy and Jones Williams of Global Media and Communication LLC of the State of Maryland, USA, and Madam Mildred Sayon, clerk of the House of Representatives, and Norbollor Singbe, secretary of the Senate respectively.