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“More Gov’t Officials Will Be Sanctioned If…” -Visiting U.S. Anti-graft Diplomats Assert

By Bill W. Cooper

Visiting U.S. Anti-graft envoys have said there is a possibility for the sanctioning of more government officials following the revision of evidences and information currently before their treasury department’s possession.

Richard Nephew, the U.S. Coordinator on Global Anti-Corruption and USAID’s Anti-Corruption Task Force Executive Director, Shannon Green who could not state the date or individuals to be sanctioned stated, “We don’t preview when we are going to take any new sanction action or to target this person or institution as a matter of practice.”

Speaking on Tuesday, March 14, 2023 during a roundtable interaction with a team of Liberian journalists at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia following high-profile meetings with the Justice Minister, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean and Finance Minister, Samuel D. Tweah, Nephew explained, “Because by doing so would frankly give people who are engaged in bad conduct to stop. So we don’t do that.”

“But what I would say is that the work of developing additional sanction action and designation packages continues and it continues constantly because we are always reviewing evidences and information that are provided to us about potentially sanction conduct,” Nephew said.

Ambassador Nephew and Ms. Green are currently in Liberia meeting with government officials, heads of integrity institutions, civil society organizations and the media to strengthen and buttress government’s fight against corruption.

The Coordinator on Global Anti-Corruption’s position integrates and elevates the fight against corruption across all aspects of U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance, while the Executive Director of USAID’s Anti-Corruption Task Force leads USAID’s implementation of the U.S. Strategy on Countering Corruption. 

However, their trip to Liberia followed the U.S. Treasury Department’s recent sanctioning of three top government officials namely former Minister of State, Nathaniel McGill, the National Port Authority (NPA) former Managing Director, Bill Tweahway and former Solicitor General, Saymah Syrenius Cyphus for public corruption.

According to him, it means activities that potentially violate U.S. sanction could then potentially cause the need to impose sanction, noting, “And we are constantly collecting evidences to be able to support it because it is a legal process which requires respecting the rules of law and it takes some time.”

He maintained, “But I will say as we have seen in other recent cases, there have been some thoughts that because we haven’t acted in the last week means that we are falling asleep and have no intention in taking action; let me assure you that is not the case.”

“We take time; we do this thoroughly and carefully but we also do this persistently and it is the kind of work that we will continue to endeavor into to help in dealing with corruption in Liberia as well as other countries around the world,” Nephew added.

He further expressed that the United States’ government is concerned about the widespread corruption in Liberia, and thereby called on the Weah led-administration to listen to the citizenry’s demand to hold those involved in corruption accountable.

“It is our view and it is our belief that the people of Liberia are demanding accountability and demanding a demonstration that the government will hold accountable those who are engaged in corrupt acts,” Nephew indicated.

“And we are very much encouraged; we are very much hopeful and urge the Government of Liberia to investigate indications of corrupt behavior and to prosecute those accused accordingly,” Nephew added.

For her part, Shannon Green stressed the need for the government intensify its fight against corruption especially so as the country prepares for the October 10, 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections.

“It is time the Liberian Government beefs up its fight against corruption. The U.S. Government is an enduring partner of Liberia, and part of that partnership is to be true to one another, and one of the truths we have been saying is that corruption is really undermining the promise of Liberia,” Green stated.

“The government must step up its fight against corruption, particularly in the run up to the elections. And that it will take that persistent urgent action to hold corrupt actors accountable to unleash the progress that is available for all Liberians and to deliver on its development promises and other economic activities,” she stressed.

“It has also been observed that Liberians are being deprived of their basic rights to free education, and healthcare delivery because health facilities are no longer receiving medical drugs and that schools are also not getting the needed support and it’s something that keeps carrying Liberia backward; but with collective effort, we shall address this malice,” she added.

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