A New Democrat investigation to unravel the mystery payees, “Bigboy 1” and “Bigboy2”, mentioned in Global Witness’s report of bribery involving Liberian officials and the UK based Sable Mining, has pointed to the assemblage of Senators as “Bigboy1” and the collective of members of the House of Representatives as “Bigboy2” receiving US$250,000 apiece.
Sable Mining and its lawyer, Varney Sherman, gave the bribes in return for compromised concessions law. The kickbacks occurred in 2010 according to Global Witness. In the same year, Liberia’s Public Procurement and Concession Act was amended and restated with changes in mining requirements.
Sources in the legislature informed this paper the distribution of the money allegedly went across the 30 Senators with each receiving an amount in excess of US$8,000 while the then 64 representatives received a little less than US$4,000 each from their own allocation of US$250, 000.
The Senate was then headed by Grand Kru County Senator, Cletus Wotorson who is mentioned in the report as separately receiving US$5000 for consultancy while then and current House Speaker Alex Tyler also received US$75,000 according to Global Witness.
There is precedence of these kinds of payments to lawmakers. According to a report of Liberia’s General Auditing Commission (GAC), “a series of bribes less than US$120,000 in total was allegedly paid in 2006 and 2007 so that the legislature would grant two small firms the right to four oil concessions off Liberia’s coast. One of those which purchased rights to three offshore properties (oil blocks) sold its concessions to Chevron.”
The then Board Chairman of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), Clemenceau Urey, admitted in open court that the legislature demanded bribes and the NOCAL Board approved and paid the bribes with an initial amount of US$50,000. Mr. Urey rationalized that the Government of Liberia badly needed the investment money from the concessions and could only bow to the pressure of the lawmakers who had held the concessions bills for over eight months in demand of bribe money.
Mr. Urey and Montserrado County erstwhile District Number One Representative, Alomiza Ennos , who allegedly received the bribes on behalf of the legislature, could not be made to account on bribery charges as their lawyers succeeded in having the matter thrown out of court on grounds of “statute of limitations.”
Documented history of the legislature relative to soliciting and receiving bribes has cast doubt over the quality of laws. Moore Stephens, a UK based auditing firm, has reported that only two out of 68 concession deals signed between 2006 and 2009 met legal requirements.