J. Partick Kollie
Cllr. James N. Verdier
Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC)
Republic of Liberia
October 4, 2015
Dear Cllr. Verdier,
I present compliments and write to bring to your commission’s attention several irregularities leading to massive corruption in Gbarpolu County. As head of Liberia’s anti graft institution, I think it is prudent and necessary to investigate these allegations and bring those culprits to book. In my candid opinion, this will help deter/minimize future corruption.
Recently, a syndicate was uncovered by the new Gbarpolu County Project Management Committee Chairman “Mr. Sam K. Zinnah” covertly linking several Government Officials to a company that is believed to have defrauded Gbarpolu County of USD$300,000.00 United States Dollars. The officials conspired and participated in affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of forming a company to undertake contracts in Gbarpolu County.
Communications in my possession shows that Internal Affairs Deputy Minister for Administration, Hon. Varney A. Sirleaf on June 23, 2015 wrote Gbarpolu County Superintendent Hon. Armah M. Sarnor requesting the Superintendent to authorize the remaining 10% retention payment in the amount of USD$29,875.00 (Twenty nine thousand eight hundred seventy-five United States Dollars) in favor of Renewal Liberia Limited, the company that fraudulently won the Bopolu City layout contract in 2012.
On October 13, 2012, the then head of the Gbarpolu County Administration, Hon. Allen M. Gbowee in a mass Gbarpolu County Citizens meeting in Bopolu City announced that Renewal Liberia Limited was the winner of the USD$300,000.00 dollars City layout contract.
After reviewing the procurement process that led to the result in favor of Renewal Liberia Limited, a citizen of Gbarpolu County Attorney Harris F. Tarnue filed a formal complaint to the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission through the Commission’s Complaints, Appeals & Review Panel (CARP) against the process. Upon receipt of Atty. Harris Tarnue’s written complaint with all his supporting documents attached, the PPCC’s CARP requested Superintendent Allen Gbowee to submit all documents pertaining to the Bopolu City layout bid process in a specified time. According to the CARP investigation report also in my possession, the following list of documents was requested from Superintendent Gbowee.
1. List of participating bidders and qualification criteria
2. Minutes of procurement committee & bid opening meetings, including attendance record
3. Bid evaluation Panels report/recommendations
4. Bid evaluations criteria
5. Finding of a review proceeding held upon the complaint of Atty. Harris F. Tarnue
6. Copies of the signed contract and
7. Copies of bid advertisement and other related document not specifically named herein.
The qualification requirement listed by Superintendent Gbowee in the advertisement reads below:
-Current business registration certificate
- Current valid tax clearance certificate
-Ministry of Public works certificate
-Instant Financial statement
-Ability to pre finance per stage
-Past performance records/report, including project title, Project location, Project value, client’s full addresses and contact number(s).
The bid evaluation report and exhibit 5 of the November 2014 GAC report shows the below report:
MPW Certificate……………………………..not current
Business Registration Certificate ……………. available
Tax clearance…………………………………..not current
Past performance…………………………...not available
Cost of project………………………………...in range of the estimated
Technical ability……………………………….equipment and professional capacity limited
It was clear that the purported winner of the bid was not qualified to take part in the bidding process but Superintendent Gbowee, in total gross violation of the PPCC laws, defiantly proceeded with allowing Renewal Liberia Limited to take part in the bidding process
(See GAC report, page exhibit 5). As if the initial gross violation was not sufficient, Superintendent Gbowee in a continue defiance posture, awarded the contract to Renewal Liberia Limited. The Chairman of the Gbarpolu County Legislative Caucus attempted to intervene but was disrespectfully ignored by Superintendent Gbowee.
After thorough investigation into the complaint, the CARP ruled; “Therefore, it is the opinion of this panel that respondent, the Honorable Superintendent of Gbarpolu County, Allen M. Gbowee and his procurement committee violated all of the above cited provisions of the PPCC Act and regulation No. 003 during the conduct of the tendering process of EOI No. GBARC/NCB/001/12/13, and also failed to perform their functions in line with section 27 (c) (d) (f) (k) of the Amended and restated PPCC Act of 2010 in the conduct of the proceedings described above and the award of the works procurement contracts to Renewal Liberia Limited. In view of the above, the panel hereby upholds the contentions of the complainant that the procurement committee of Gbarpolu County Administration headed by Superintendent Allen M. Gbowee grossly violated the above cited provisions of the PPCC Act and its regulations during the tendering process. Accordingly, the panel here by invalidates and reverses the decision of the procurement committee to award contract for Bopolu City layout to Renewal Liberia Limited. The Gbarpolu County Administration is hereby ordered to re-run the procurement process with provision that those companies that participated in the July 2012 procurement proceedings do not pay any additional fees for participation”.
Despite the PPCC ruling, Superintendent Gbowee defiantly moved on with the contract.
Conspiracy or Gross Incompetence
The above narration does not need a rocket scientist to tell that the Bopolu City layout contract was in violation of the PPCC Act. What remains a multi-million dollars question now is whether Deputy Internal Affairs Minister for Administration Varney A. Sirleaf and Internal Affairs Assistant Minister for Legal Affairs Hon. Losene F. Bility (Esq) both conspired and participated in affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of forming Renewal Liberia Limited to undertake the Bopolu City layout contract or both are grossly incompetent to read and analyze the above public documents.
An internal Memorandum (LFB/AMLA/) 91) in my possession also reveals the legal opinion of Assistant Minister for Legal Affairs Hon. Losene Bility (Esq). In his opinion dated May 12, 2015, Hon. Bility writes, “In consonance with your April 28, 2015 instruction to the Deputy Minister for Administration, Hon. Varney A. Sirleaf, which was forwarded to me for legal advice, I have reviewed the attached instruments and arrived at the following findings:
1. That, the project was successfully completed as same was dedicated during the July 26, 2013 Independence Day celebration in Bopolu City, Gbarpolu County by Her Excellency, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia.
2. That, the assessment report of the Public Works Resident Engineer of January 28, 2014 certified the work
3. That, the 1st payment was made in April 2013
4. That, the 2nd payment was made in October 2013
5. That, the 3rd and final payment as retention was due in January 2014 but up till now is has not been paid,
Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, and coupled with the fact that the 3rd and final/retention payment in the amount of US$29,875.00 is overdue, I advise that same be paid in accordance with the terms and conditions enshrined in the contract”.
Looking at the bid evaluation report and exhibit 5 of the November 2014 GAC report, it is clear that Renewal Liberia Limited did not have current Ministry of public works certificate, on what basis did the Public works resident engineer assess the project?. Also, the contract was attested to on behalf of the Finance Minister by the Gbarpolu County revenue agent even though Renewal Liberia Limited did not have tax clearance at the time of the bid. Again, on what basis did the revenue agent affixed his signature to the contract?
I am urging the LACC to dig into the motives of these individuals to make sure they too did not receive their share of the $300,000.00. The GAC report revealed that the individuals who signed on behalf of the Justice Minister and Finance Minister (because of the $250,000.00 threshold) were not the statutorily authorized individuals to sign the contract but they still did. Could they have been influenced by unprofessional or unethical token?
It is professionally amazing to read such a legal advice that has absolutely no legal basis. In my view, the Minister is either in a covert conspiracy or is grossly incompetent to know that no contract exists between Gbarpolu County and Renewal Liberia limited. How could this Legal Affairs Minister be so blind to the law he professes to know?
Further investigation into Renewal Liberia Limited’s activities reveals that most of the documentations were done whenever the minister proper was out of the Country. The original contract that was nullified by PPCC’s CARP ruling was signed by Hon. Varney A. Sirleaf, Deputy Minister for Administration, Ministry of Internal Affairs. Payment requests were always submitted while Hon. Varney Sirleaf was acting as Minister. It was in one of their usual covert activities that PMC chairman Sam K. Zinnah lunched a stink operation that unveiled this scam that is now raising bunch of unanswered questions.
PMC Chairman’s efforts
In a leaked package in my possession, it is becoming crystal clear that someone is finally prepared to draw a thick line between corruption and accountability. In response to what appears to be a letter received from Gbarpolu County Superintendent Hon. Armah M. Sarnor, Gbarpolu County newly elected Project Management Committee Chairman, Mr. Sam K. Zinnah seems to be sitting pretty good and ready to battle or challenge the legality of the Bopolu City layout contract. As such, he will need the full support of the LACC to nail these corrupt activities in Gbarpolu County.
In a well written letter to Justice Minister Benedict Sannoh dated June 28, 2015, Chairman Zinnah wrote:
I present compliments and write to seek the advice of the Ministry of Justice about the request for payment to Renewal Liberia Limited concerning a purported contract for the layout of Bopolu City, Gbarpolu County.
On July 20, 2015, I received a letter dated July 10, 2015 in which Superintendent Armah Sarnor, acting on advice from Hon. Varney A. Sirleaf, Deputy Minister for Administration, Ministry of Internal Affairs requested the Gbarpolu County PMC to pay Renewal Liberia Limited the amount of USD$29,875.00 (Twenty nine thousand eight hundred seventy five United States Dollars). Please see attached letters regarding the request for payment.
Notwithstanding, the request for said payment, my attention has been drawn to the June 6, 2013 ruling of the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) and the November 2014 General Auditing Commissions report regarding the unlawfulness of the above mentioned contract.
Hon. Minister, the holding from the June 6, 2013 PPCC’s ruling reads as follows:
“The Panel hereby upholds the contentions of the complainant that the procurement committee of Gbarpolu County headed by Superintendent Allen M. Gbowee grossly violated the above cited provisions of the PPCC Act and its regulations during the tendering process. Accordingly, the Panel hereby invalidates and reverse the decision of the procurement committee to award the contracts for EOI No.GBARC/NCB/001/12/13 to Renewal Liberia Limited and Trans-Africa Trading Company. And that to ensure compliance with the PPCC Act, the Gbarpolu County Administration is hereby ordered to re run the procurement process with provision that those companies that participated in the July 2012 procurement process do not pay any additional fees for participating”.
A finding from portion of the November 2014 General Auditing Commission’s report covering the fiscal years 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 states “ The Gbarpolu County Administration grossly violated the PPCC Act and PFM law in awarding the contract. Also, despite a precept from the Public Procurement and Concession Commission’s CARP, prohibiting the execution of the contract and ordering the re run of the procurement process, the County Administration opted to ignore the CARP’s ruling and preceded with the execution of the said contract at the detriment of public resources”.
Also, recommendation on page 16 of the November 2014 GAC report states “The Gbarpolu County Superintendent, Allen M. Gbowee, Assistant Superintendent for Development, Yassah Karmo-Fallah, the PMC Chairman, Desmond A.T. Boimah should be held accountable for the USD$268,875.00 paid to the contractor for the layout of the Bopolu City”.
It is also interesting to know that the laws specifically requiring that the Ministers of Finance and Development Planning and Justice to sign and attest to contracts above$250,000.00 were ignored. According to the November 2014 GAC report for fiscal years 2011/2012 & 2012/2013, the individuals who signed the contract on behalf of the two Ministries were not the statutorily authorized officials thus raising more credibility issues about this contract.
As the newly elected Chairman of the PMC, it is one of my sworn in or oath commitments to ensure that the resources of Gbarpolu County are expanded in line with the laws of this Nation. I am seeking your advice in order to move forward with the payment request”.
My investigation into the letter to Minister Sannoh shows that the letter landed at the Ministry when Minister Sannoh was out of the country. Fortunately, the letter with all the supporting documents was forwarded to Cllr. Emmanuel Tulay, Deputy Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Justice. It is interesting to note that Cllr. Tulay served as legal consultant at PPCC and he presided over the PPCC ruling that nullified the Bopolu City layout contract but he’s now very reluctant to take action or decision against the violation of his PPCC’s CARP ruling. Could there be another connection between the syndicate at Internal Affairs and Justice?. Since the submission of the June 28, 2015 letter to the Justice Ministry, Cllr. Tulay is yet to respond to the letter thus raising additional unanswered questions.
Suspected owners of Renewal Liberia Limited
Since the emergence of Renewal Liberia Limited, there have been many speculations in Gbarpolu County about the owners of this suspicious company. According to the November 2014 GAC report, Renewal Liberia Limited did not meet most of the important requirements for participating in the biding process but the Company still won the bid which later dragged in to PPCC court and resulted to cancelling of the contract. Although the contract was nullified by the PPCC, payment of over US$268,800.00 to the Company was processed through the Ministry of Internal Affairs thus raising more questions than answers about the powerful hands behind the company.
It is widely speculated that Renewal Liberia Limited is covertly owned by Deputy internal Affairs Minister for Administration, Hon. Varney A. Sirleaf, and Gbarpolu County Senator Daniel Naatehn. The status Of Hon. Losene Bility, Assistant Minister for Legal Affairs is not too clear as he remains under close watch. Hon. Bility’s recent (May 12, 2015) legal advice in favor of Renewal Liberia Limited shares more lights on his covert connection to this suspicious company.
In one of my many attempts to track some of the fishy activities of Renewal Liberia Limited, I’ve been trying to investigate how the earth moving equipments that were used by Renewal Liberia Limited landed in the hands of the company. The equipments in question were bought by Bokomu and Gou Ngolala Districts with the aim to undertake road works in the two Districts but the machines have been in the Possession of Senator Daniel Naatehn. Without the knowledge of the owners of the Mechines, a purported rental contract was entered into between Messrs Alfred Morris and Alex kpuway ( Chairmen of both districts development associations) and Renewal Liberia Limited without the involvement and authorization of the local authorities of the two Districts under the watch of Hon. Daniel Naatehn who served as the custodian of the yellow machines and a dump truck purchased by the two Districts from their share of the County Development funds thus shinning more lights on Senator Naatehn’s connection to this suspicious company. After the illegal use of the two yellow machines, the machines disappeared at the end of the layout project. To date, only the dump truck is visible at Senator Naatehn’s House in Bopolu. The where about of the two yellow machines remains an unsolved misery. As I pen this letter, the people of Bokomu and Gou Ngolaila are gearing up to file a law suit against the fronting General Manager of Renewal Liberia Limited, Mr. James Q. Folokula.
If it is proven that the above named officials are in any way beneficiaries of Renewal Liberia Limited, their action will be total conflict of interest. I am of the strongest conviction that the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission would be highly interested in digging out the owners of this suspicious company as they anxiously wait to take care of their final chopping from the US$300,000.00 contract.
It is also reported in the November 2014 GAC report that Renewal Liberia Limited owed over $12,800.00 in unpaid taxes to Government thus constituting tax fraud and another form of corruption.
Deputy and Assistant Ministers denied knowing about PPCC ruling & GAC report
In a August 6, 2015 edition of the Frontpageafrica news paper sub caption “who wants Gbarpolu County 29K road Money”, reporter Henry Karmo contacted Internal Affairs Deputy Minister for Administration “Hon. Varney Sirleaf to get his view about the dubious transaction. In Minister Sirleaf’s respond, according to reporter Karmo, Minister Sirleaf claimed his instruction to the Gbarpolu County Authority to pay the contractor (Renewal Liberia Limited/James Folokula) the remaining $29,875.000 United States Dollars was base on a legal advice from Assistant Internal Affairs Minister for Legal Affairs, Hon. Lusene Bility. Minister Sirleaf Also claimed that he had no knowledge that the PPCC had ruled in the awarding of the contract. He claimed that the PPCC ruling was not communicated to him when he wrote the Gbarpolu County Administration about the ten percent retention payment.
When contacted, Internal Affairs Assistant Minister for Legal Affairs, Hon. Luseni Bility claimed that he too was not aware of the PPCC ruling and the GAC report. He pushed that it was only fair to pay the last money since the first and second payments were done. Minister Bility’s legal advice further exposes him to either conspiracy or gross incompetence. Since the August 6, 2015 frontpage Africa publication, the two ministers are yet to write to withdraw their letter of authorization.
Fake names on Renewal Liberia Limited’s article of incorporation
A copy of the article of incorporation of Renewal Liberia Limited in my possession shows that most, if not all, of the names listed on the article of incorporation are fake names. Further investigation reveals that one of the names listed is that of Gbarpolu County Senator Daniel Flomo Naatehn, Sr. Last month I traveled to Senator Naatehn’s District to verify some of the names and identity shown on the ID cards that I could lay my hands on. A particular name “Flomo D. Kpailee, Sr was pointed out by many to be the traditional name of Senator Daniel F. Naatehn, Sr.
In my opinion, it is the right of Senator Naatehn and any Gbarpolu Citizen to form company and create or provide employment for Gbarpolu Citizens but doing it with fake identy(ies) creates suspicion. The following names are listed on the Renewal Liberia Limited article of incorporation.
1. James Q. Kpaihn 13% share
2. Mulbah K. Zinnah 10% share
3. J. Sando Momo 20% share
4. Flomo D. Kpailee, Sr 20%
5. Quaye Kogo 12 %
I am urging LACC to please invite the General Manager of Renewal Liberia Limited, Mr. James Q. Folokula to produce all of his share holders for questioning. I believe this will help eliminate the suspicion of questionable identies.
Hon. Allen Gbowee continuous defiance
Sometime in October of 2014, Superintendent Allen Gbowee and Development Superintendent Yassah Karmo-Fallah were dismissed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The two, in a continuation of their defiance, drove away with the government assigned vehicles. As I pen this letter, they are in possession of the GSA coded and assigned vehicles. Further investigation shows that they are still receiving pay while they are out of government. One source from the office of Senator Daniel Naatehn disclosed that “as long as Senator Naatehn remains the most powerful Senator in Gbarpolu with the backing of Hon. Varney Sirleaf, he will do whatever he wants”.
Cllr. Verdier, after all the above analysis, I humbly beg your commission’s indulgence to swiftly probe into these grief alleged malpractices. Am quite sure that bringing the culprits to justice will serve as deterrence for would be dowers.
J. Patrick Kollie
Citizen, Gbarpolu County