President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told investigators she did not authorize the sharing of oil revenue with select members of her kitchen cabinet as her son and top officials of the state owned National Oil Company of Liberia had claimed, verified sources have said.
The retired leader has been a subject of a state inquiry into Global Witness’s accusation that a 2013 offshore oil concession her administration reached with US super major ExxonMobil was fraught with irregular payments.
A family source told New Democrat that after Johnson Sirleaf was summoned to face allegations of sanctioned bribery and possible abuse of office, the former President through her lawyers informed a special presidential committee in the capital Monrovia she did not approve ‘bonus’ payment and knows nothing about the transaction.
The President son – Mr. Robert Sirleaf and other officials have insisted they did nothing wrong and those payments they received were “bonuses” for a ‘very good deal’ negotiated and concluded with ExxonMobil.
Following Exxon acquisition of offshore oil Block 13 and subsequent payment of US$50million, the Board of Directors of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) convened an emergency board meeting on Saturday, April 27, 2013 to discuss how they will collect some of the Oil money for personal benefit, NOCAL board resolution showed.
They claimed in the resolution Johnson Sirleaf directed that 10 percent of the US$50million be given to the Hydrocarbon Technical Committee members, NOCAL officials and staff.
The resolution: “Regarding the proposal that was approved by the president of the Republic of Liberia to use approximately 10% of the income that NOCAL generated from the Block 13 transaction (which amounts to roughly 500,000 United States dollars) for the payment of bonuses to the hydrocarbon technical Committee and support team, the Board of Directors, the management and staff of NOCAL for their hard work and dedication to ensuring the successful completion of the project, and on motion duly made, seconded and unanimously carried, it was resolved that the Board of Directors hereby authorizes the President/CEO to disburse bonus payments in an amount not to exceed $500,000 United States dollars in order to pay bonuses to the Hydrocarbon Technical Committee and Support Team, the Board of Directors, Management and Staff of NOCAL for their hard work in accordance with the payment listing that was approved by the Board and is attached to this resolution.”
More than a dozen senior officials benefited from a large payment totaling more than $300,000 United States dollar.
“We remain proud of the work we did for our country by ensuring that it benefited from US$50 million as a result of that transaction,” Former Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh said in defense of the payment he received.
“In fact, global best practice would suggest that when employees achieve great results, bonus is a way of appreciating and incentivizing them. When has this become a crime to pay and receive bonus?” Konneh replied.
But New Democrat understands the special presidential committee that probed the transaction dismissed the possibility of bribery but holds that the payments lack legal basis. Individuals who benefited from the illegal distribution of the country’s oil revenue may face prosecution should they failed to refund into government’s revenue, account amounts received within a specified timeframe, one source said.
President George Weah has promised to prosecute those that are culpable of the act of corruption.
See who’s who in NOCAL’s Payments to former Government officials, members of the Board of Directors, Senior Management, staff and the Hydrocarbon Technical Committee Members respectively.
|Date||Payee||Position||Check #||Amount US$|
|4/30/2013||Christiana Tah||Minister of Justice||03970||35,000.00|
|4/30/2013||Amara Konneh||Minister of Finance and Development Planning||03972||35,000.00|
|4/30/2013||James Kollie||Deputy Minister of Finance and Development Planning||03971||35,000.00|
|4/30/2013||Patrick Sendolo||Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy||03968||35,000.00|
|4/30/2013||Randolph McClain||President/CEO NOCAL||03973||35,000.00|
|4/30/2013||O.Natty B.Davis||Chairman/ National Investment Commission||3966||35,000.00|
|4/30/2013||Robert Sirleaf||Senior Advisor/Chairman of the Board/NOCAL||03969||35,000.00|
|4/30/2013||Fred Bass Golokeh||Vice Chairman of the Board/NOCAL||03959||16,875.00|
|4/30/2013||Joseph Howe||Board Member/NOCAL||03960||16,875.00|