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Liberia

World Bank debars Ghanaian firm over bribes


SupplyManagement

October 2, 2013 | Will Green

The World Bank has debarred a Ghanaian company for paying bribes in deals connected with a $17.6 million urban sanitation project in Liberia.

Waste management company Zoomlion Ghana will not be eligible for any contract financed by the World Bank for two years, after the firm acknowledged misconduct in the Emergency Monrovia Urban Sanitation Project.

According to the World Bank the company “paid bribes to facilitate contract execution and processing of invoices”.

The bank said the debarment was part of a “negotiated resolution agreement” that acknowledged the company’s “cooperation and disciplinary measures against staff involved in the misconduct”.

As part of the settlement the company will need to demonstrate “full and satisfactory compliance with the World Bank integrity standards”. The sanction came into force on 24 September.

Leonard McCarthy, integrity vice president at the World Bank, said: “This is a case where a company under a World Bank investigation is demonstrating responsibility for wrongdoing by enforcing disciplinary action and committing to a new standard of integrity governing its operations.

“Promoting this type of corporate responsibility while holding companies accountable for wrongdoing is one of the strategic pillars of the World Bank’s anti corruption strategy.”

The Liberian sanitation project, costing $17.6 million, is designed to assist the Monrovia City Corporation in providing waste services and increase the volume of collected waste from around 30 per cent daily to 45 per cent.

Liberia’s Johnson-Sirleaf sacks AG


News24

DakarPresident Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf dismissed Liberia‘s auditor-general and the head of the public procurement agency (GSA) on Monday in a crackdown on public sector corruption.

Johnson-Sirleaf, a Nobel peace laureate, has pledged to fight graft as the West African country strives to recover from a sporadic 14-year civil conflict that ended in 2003 and left its once-prosperous economy in tatters.

A presidency statement said Auditor-General Robert Kilby, who took office last year, was being dismissed for a clear conflict of interest due to his private business dealings.

Pearine Davis-Parkinson, director-general of the General Services Agency (GSA), was dismissed for approving contracts involving Kilby in violation of Liberian law.

Davis-Parkinson told a parliamentary committee last week the GSA had employed an accounting firm owned by Kilby to set up an asset tracking system for the government.

“Join me in our continued fight against corruption,” Johnson-Sirleaf said in a statement announcing the dismissals.

Johnson-Sirleaf, who took office as Africa‘s first elected female head of state in 2006, has come under pressure for failing to root out corruption.

A recent audit of resource contracts by the accounting firm Moore Stephens showed that almost all the $8bn worth of resource contracts signed since 2009 violated Liberia’s laws and showed irregularities.

Johnson-Sirleaf told Reuters that the audit had been designed to highlight problems so that they could be addressed, and her government was taking action to do so.

She has forecast that economic growth, which has averaged 6.5% over the past four years, will hit double digits within two years as foreign investment starts to have an impact.

UN lifts lid on incompetent, abusive and corrupt peacekeepers


Times

Apr 19, 2013 | Sapa-AP

The chief procurement officer in the UN peace-building mission in Sierra Leone signed three contracts worth more than $2.7 million in total, way in excess of his $50 000 per contract limit.

UN Flag. File photo.

Photograph by: Ralph Orlowski/ Getty Images

A staff member in the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo used a UN vehicle without authorisation to transport sacks of a precious mineral into a neighbouring country. The UN mission in Liberia was unable to account for 70 vehicles.

Those were just three of the examples fraud, bribery, financial and procurement misconduct and incompetence cited in the annual report of the UN’s internal watchdog, which circulated Thursday.

Since the oil-for-food scandal in Iraq that blew up after the US-led invasion, the UN has sought to strengthen oversight of its peacekeeping, which is its largest operation, both in personnel and cost. The UN has more than 100 000 peacekeepers.

The Office of Internal Oversight Services completed 42 investigations of sexual exploitation, abuse involving minors or rape.

In the peacekeeping mission in Haiti, for example, OIOS said it received a report that one or more police officers had sexually exploited a 14-year-old boy. An investigation produced clear evidence, including a handwritten admission by the officer, who was dismissed and sentenced to one year of “rigorous imprisonment,” the report said.

While the officer was punished, OIOS expressed regret “that the sexual exploitation and abuse of the boy had likely occurred over a three-year period but had remained undetected until 2012.”

The report did not specify the outcome of all of the 42 sexual abuse cases.

“Sexual exploitation and abuse remains a significant area of concern, with the greatest number of such offences being committed by uniformed personnel,” there report said.

The office urged stepped up efforts to prevent sexual abuse, saying the continuing allegations “reflect a failure to create and sustain an environment that deters such behaviour.”

Several cases of sexual abuse were also reported in Congo.

Also in that African country, the OIOS said local authorities arrested a staff member transporting sacks of precious minerals on suspicion of mineral trafficking. He was convicted of rebellion, attempted fraud, illegal ownership and transport of minerals, and is currently in prison.

Elsewhere, OIOS said the UN mission in Afghanistan spent about $42 000 to airlift obsolete and damaged equipment from the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif to the capital Kabul from January 2010 to December 2011 when it could have been transported by road for about $1 400.

The UN mission in Iraq overpaid two contractors a total of $632 992, it said, and at the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, a staff member with expired procurement authority approved 87 purchase orders valued at $29.13 million.

In impoverished Liberia, which is emerging from a long civil war, OIOS said the UN peacekeeping mission was unable to account for 70 vehicles “owing to the lack of adequate and effective procedures to safeguard assets.”

It said 20 of 64 closed circuit televisions installed after the theft of four vehicles weren’t operational and data was only stored for a week. It said 12 of 21 heavy vehicles had been in the workshop for over a year, and two others for over three years, because of the lack of spare parts.

OIOS said only two of 25 “quick impact” projects supported by the Liberian mission and designed to provide jobs and spur the economy were completed in the three-month time frame. Thirteen took up to three years to finish, OIOS said.

The OIOS also criticised the UN peace building mission’s management in Sierra Leone, which is trying to rebuild after the end of a civil war in 2002.

The report said the chief procurement officer in Sierra Leone signed off on contracts of $814 834, $1 815 652 and $105 000, even though he only had authority to sign for $50 000. The report did not say what happened to the officer.

The OIOS also said the Sierra Leone mission awarded six contracts without competition to vendors that didn’t meet UN requirements.

When the UN wrapped up its mission in the Central African Republic and Chad, OIOS said $1.1 million worth of equipment and material that was supposed to be shipped to other missions was kept in the port at Douala, Cameroon from July 2011 until July 2012 by the freight contractor.

“As a result, assets depreciated and may have deteriorated in storage if conditions were not optimal,” it said.

Liberia: Malpractices At GAC?


AllAfrica.com

November 12, 2012

Activities at the General Auditing Commission have come in the prism of review and reflection days after 46 staffers were relieved of their posts due to what the new administration of Robert Kilby terms “overlapping of functions and budgetary constraints.”

The reported unwholesome activities and malpractices reportedly allegedly championed by the new boss include the purchase of vehicle outside of the Procurement Act, employment of individuals on family and friendship basis and many others.

The African Standard an online news magazine in a statement released and cascaded to media entities has detailed some of the troubling activities at the GAC as the involvement of Auditor General Robert Kilby in acts that do not conform to set standards, ranging from the purchase of a vehicle outside of the Procurement Act, the employment of relatives and comrades and many more.

Besides that, he is accused of employing people who lack the professional wherewithal to perform the tedious task at the GAC while at the same time laid off those who underwent rigorous trainings in many fields of the profession here in Liberia and outside at the expense of the institution.

The magazine named the former Engagement Manager of NOCAL audit, Mr. Alieu Konneh, senior auditor Amos Borbor and overall audit boss Richard A. Wisseh as some of the experienced auditors fired.

Mr. Kilby is also accused of replacing his son, Stephen Weltee Kilby with Michael Gray of Grand Cape Mount County.

For example, the African Standard Magazine claimed Mr. Kilby has just hired 18 people, adding US$35,000 per month to GAC monthly payroll.

According to the report, these new positions were not budgeted for in the current 2012/2013 Budget

Some of the staffers hired by Mr. Kilby are named as Cornelia K. Green-Mason, Executive Assistant to AG with the reported salary of $3,000, Theophilus Julu, Manager Facility with the alleged salary of $1,000, Nathaniel Brumskine, Director of Communication with the alleged salary of $3,600, Stephen Weltee Kilby, Executive Driver with the alleged salary of $700 and Ebenezer Clanko Dunn, Messenger with the alleged salary of $700…Read more.

Liberia’s Forestry Dept. Giving Large Amounts Of Land To Logging Firms


 

Huffington Post

By Richard Valdmanis

DAKAR, Sept 4 (Reuters) – Liberia‘s forestry department has given a quarter of the nation’s land to logging firms over the past two years in a flurry of shady deals now under investigation by the government, advocacy group Global Witness said on Tuesday.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, fending off accusations of graft and nepotism within her government, has suspended the head of the West African state’s Forestry Development Authority and launched a probe into the recent timber deals amid concerns of widespread fraud and mismanagement.

Global Witness said its research revealed that the scale of the deals marked a serious threat to the war-torn and impoverished country’s vast rainforests, as well as to the hundreds of thousands of people who depend on them.

“A quarter of Liberia’s total landmass has been granted to logging companies in just two years, following an explosion in the use of secretive and often illegal logging permits,” the group said in a statement.

“Unless this crisis is tackled immediately, the country’s forests could suffer widespread devastation, leaving the people who depend upon them stranded and undoing the country’s fragile progress since the resource-fuelled conflicts of 1989 to 2003.”

Global Witness conducted the investigation with two other advocacy groups, the Save My Future Foundation and Sustainable Development Institute

Corruption is seen as a big obstacle to development in Liberia, which remains one of the world’s least developed countries nearly a decade after the end of a 14-year civil war.

The government has been struggling to clarify land ownership issues across its vast forested zones, traditionally divided along ethnic lines.

Global Witness said about 26,000 square kilometers of land had been granted to timber companies through at least 66 so-called Private Use Permits – lightly regulated deals between timber companies and private land owners.

It said many of the deals made with individuals said to own the land were backed by land deeds held in the collective name of people of a district or clan who had little knowledge of the accords and would reap little benefit from the timber exported…Read more.

 

Liberia: LPRC Management Pays U.S.$900,000 to Scottish Company-Documentary Evidence Reveals


AllAfrica.com

February 14th, 2012

Documentary evidence in possession of the Independent Authoritative Heritage reveals that the Management of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company(LPRC) paid the amount of US$900,000.00 to a Scottish company called Motherwell Bridge Limited (MBL) on May 12, 2011 for procurement of bulk materials for two of the various storage tanks to be rehabilitated by MBL under Product Storage Terminal Rehabilitation & Expansion Project Contract, but the payment was made without the Board’s authorization and in the absence of MBL posting a performance guarantee security as requested by the Contract.

According to the documentary evidence- Board Resolution, the Board determined as insufficient the explanation provided by the Managing Director of LPRC, Mr. T. Nelson Williams, for payment of the US$900,000.00 without required Board authorization and the posting of required performance guarantee satisfactory to LPRC in keeping with the provisions of the Contract…Read more.

Nigeria: Cleaning Up Procurement


Council on Foreign Relations

By John Campbell

February 29, 2012

This is a guest post by Jim Sanders, a career, now retired, West Africa watcher for various federal agencies. The views expressed below are his personal views and do not reflect those of his former employers.

Reportedly, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has invited World Bank officials to vet all federal government contracts. “Very soon we will get people from the World Bank to be at my office. For every contract we want to award, irrespective of the structures we have on the ground, they will assess it so that if a job is supposed to cost N10,000 and it’s awarded for N10,000, the likelihood that the contractor bribing anybody will be reduced,” Jonathan was quoted as saying.

World Bank Senior Communications Specialist Obadiah Tohomdet has said, however, that Nigeria has not formally contacted the World Bank over the vetting of procurement contracts. Tohomdet termed the scheme “an idea in the making by the President.”

Critics argue that setting up a World Bank contract review desk in the president’s office is “a vote of no confidence in the government.” They point to Jonathan’s failure to inaugurate the National Council on Public Procurement, as authorized by the Public Procurement Act of 2007, and his use of the Federal Executive Council to approve contracts. Osita Okechuckwu of the Conference for Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) stated that Nigerians “don’t need any foreign body to do the work we can successfully do.” Zakari Mohammed, speaking for the House of Representatives, noted that the World Bank experts may be paid in hard currency, which would be “another burden on government.”

Jonathan’s initiative is, in some ways, reminiscent of Liberian president Samuel Doe’s use of American financial experts in 1988-89 to help manage Liberia’s finances. The Opex (Operational Experts) project (pdf) consisted of seventeen experts who were given control over accounts in Liberia’s Ministry of Finance and the National Bank of Liberia. Their mission focused on improving revenue collection, expenditure control, and information processing systems.

The project experienced some success in bringing civil service, military, and pension salaries up to date and increasing revenue. However, after a year, the U.S. and Liberian governments mutually agreed to terminate Opex. Controls were circumvented and policy reform measures were not implemented. President Doe’s lack of commitment to the project proved especially damaging. Doe and his advisers retained control of some public funds outside the Ministry of Finance and would not give Opex access to them, as the funds formed the basis for patronage, power, and wealth.

Jonathan’s proposal appears to limit the World Bank experts’ role to an advisory one, rather than granting them control, yet a domestic backlash may be brewing among Nigerians who view the initiative as impinging on the country’s capabilities and sovereignty.

Removing corruption from procurement contracts also carries the potential to damage officials’ ability to dispense patronage, and is likely to be resisted as much in Nigeria today, as it was in Liberia in the late 1980s. Political systems in which patronage is deeply rooted are difficult to reform in part because of both ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ pressures, according to University of Oxford (Jesus College) Professor Nicholas Cheeseman.

Successful politicians’ ability to push reform is limited by their indebtedness to those who have supported them, while at lower levels, people worry that if they stop acting on a patron-client basis, while everyone else continues to do so, they will lose out. “To my mind,” Cheeseman argues, “it is precisely the combination of pressure from above and below [that] is what ensures that patron-client relations are so durable.” While Jonathan’s proposal–reportedly still ideational–to reduce corruption in procurement contracts is commendable, it is likely to be governed by patronage networks’ ‘invisible hand.’

Huge oil deposits discovered In Liberia


English.news.cn

February 22, 2012

MONROVIA, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) — The African Petroleum (AP), an oil and gas exploration and development company in West Africa, announced on Tuesday that a potentially large accumulation of oil deposits had been found off the coast of Liberia. The discovery was made at National Oil Company of Liberia (NACOL) Narina-1 exploratory well drilled in Block LB-09… According to McClain, the process necessitating the tests for the oil’s discovery would take a pretty extended time. He told reporters that the country’s oil evaluation would indicate as to whether the deposits are in sufficient quantity to be commercially viable for production. NACOL said a period of additional 5 to 7 years is expected for the project immediately after the appraisals.

The discovery by the AP is said to have taken place in Block LB- 09 off the coast of Liberia. This block is one of the blocks being operated by the company under a Production Sharing Agreement (PSA). The PSA was negotiated by the executive branch and then later ratified by the legislature in 2008. The exploratory well is among several that have been drilled during the periods 2011 and 2012Read more.

Liberia: LPRC Ready For Probe


AllAfrica.com

February 16, 2012

AllAfrica aggregates reports from Africa‘s news media. This is an article from the Liberian press. It is not a report by AllAfrica.

The resignation of Cllr. Negbalee Warner as chair of the Board of Directors of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) would have faded away as the private affair it is, except that it has degenerated into allegation trading. Mr. Warner says he resigned to protest impropriety within the LPRC; but the board thinks he is covering up his double-dealings. Besides, it is putting up a challenge for proof of impropriety, if any. The Analyst, reports.

The 9-man LPRC Board of Directors says while it does not dispute that the company faces challenges, business impropriety is not part of the challenges, and that it was ready to undergo any scrutiny, audit, or investigation to prove it.

If there is any impropriety, the board says, it is likely to be that perpetrated by former board chair, Cllr. Negbaleee Warner, whom it accused of engagement in conflict of interest, but who claimed his resignation relates to the management of the Japanese Oil Grant and the Motherwell Contract and financial management.

The board said while it respected Mr. Warner’s right to resign, it was necessary to establish the truth in order for the government, the Liberian people, and Liberia’s economic partners to know that the LPRC board and management comprised individuals of integrity and honesty who are guided by love of country.

It then expressed its willingness and preparedness to prove that all of its transactions were in accord with established guidelines for inter-agency collaboration, procurement guidelines and procedures, bilateral protocols, and government policies.

The board notes, thus, in the concluding statements of the press statement it issued yesterday under the signature of its Secretary General, Mr. T. Nelson Williams:

The Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) stands ready to undergo any scrutiny, audit, or investigation of its operations and especially the allegations of the former Chairman of the Board, Counselor Negbalee Warner.

We invite the General Auditing Commission, the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Ministry of Justice, and any other Concerned Agency to probe the validity of Counselor Warner’s allegations…Read more.

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