Missing Witness: What Michael Allison Would Have Said About Exxon U$5million ‘Bribes’

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Prosecutors are expected this week to present findings of a presidential mandated inquiry into Global Witness’ report that former key Johnson Sirleaf’s administration officials received irregular payments after concluding oil concession with US firm ExxonMobil.

Following Exxon acquisition of offshore oil Block 13 and subsequent payment of US$50million, Johnson Sirleaf directed that 10 percent of the US$50million be given to Hydrocarbon Technical Committee members, NOCAL officials and staff, according to a board resolution this paper has seen.

A source with knowledge of the deal said on the basis of strict anonymity that the former President authorized close to five million United States dollars to be paid to legislators and select cabinet officials.

The then 103 members of the legislature are reported to have received US$3.7million. While the evidence against Sirleaf’s cabinet members and oil officials is overwhelming, the man who may have been a pivotal witness to establishing the legislators’ link to the apparent crime died three years ago in Monrovia.

The lawyer Michael Allison was found dead in the early hours of February 12, 2015 under mysterious circumstances. Although the Justice Ministry said then there was no foul play into his death, he was the man who exposed the corruption saga involving former House Speaker Alex Tyler and some members of the House of Representatives.

Allison is credited for alerting the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission that ex-Speaker Tyler had called him for an unusual US$25,000 payment for legal consultancy he provided on the legislature’s oil review program.

The amount was far above Allison’s actual fee of US$10,000, one account said.

His whistle blowing led to the arrest of Representative Adolph Lawrence by the LACC who was on sight at a local bank to receive Tyler’s alleged share.

On January 30, 2015, the House of Representatives for the first time admitted that the body received one point two million United States Dollars from the National Oil Company for its “oil reform program.”

Beside a US$900, 000 disclosure House members were in denial of receiving the confused amount until it was made public with the House’s plenary mandating its Ways Means and Finance Committee to investigate, in two weeks, the additional three hundred thousand that was missing and kept secret.

Former Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay who was Ways and Means Chief at the time of the transaction acknowledged receipt of the $1.2 million and was ordered to provide full account on how the remaining three hundred thousand was spent.

Nuquay expressed his willingness then to submit to the probe. He disclosed that the $1.2 million dollar was not disbursed to the House in pieces but as one cheque.

– Festus Poquie