The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Weah Halts Diplomatic Passports Issuance …Orders Bassirou Kante Investigated

President George M. Weah has mandated the Foreign Ministry to immediately stop the issuance of diplomatic passports to anyone unless otherwise authorized by him.
He has also ordered the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dee-Maxwell Kemayah, to immediately investigate circumstances leading to the issuance of Liberia’s Diplomatic passport to Sheik Bassirou Kante, who was recently arrested in the U.S.
According to an Executive Mansion release, the Liberian Chief Executive further instructed Minister Kemeyah to submit a full report detailing a review of how Liberian diplomatic passports are issued.
In his directive, the Liberian leader also instructed the report by the Foreign Minister is to be submitted within one week of the date of the President’s directive, May 10, 2022.
However, the President’s call for an immediate investigation into Sheik Bassirou Kante holding of a diplomatic passport followed a report of the arrest of Mr. Kante in the United States for wire fraud amounting to over US$7 million.
Notably, Mr. kante who could not secure a bail bond as the court has taken into consideration several factors, including his possession of a Liberian Diplomatic passport and his very close ties with the Liberian government.
Sheik Bassirou Kante, popularly known in Liberia as Royal Gold was arrested at his home in the United States on April 20 and was duly charged with money laundering conspiracy.
He was picked up just few hours before his scheduled departure from Dulles International Airport in Washington to the United Arab Emirates on a one-way ticket.
He has since been in pre-trial detention opting for bail, but the U.S. Court ruled that the United States government had established by a preponderance of the evidence that no condition or combination of release conditions could reasonably assure his appearance in court as required.
In a written Order, Judge Timothy J. Sullivan found that the weight of the evidence against Bassirou was strong and that he was subject to a lengthy period of incarceration if convicted. He is also subject to removal from the United States through deportation after serving his full term if convicted.
The Judge at the same time emphasized that Bassirou, alias Royal Gold, possessed multiple passports from various countries as well as fraudulent identification documents with unexplained assets and sources of large amount of money, and had close ties to governments, particularly, the government of Liberia.
The Defendant’s ties to Liberia, moreover, are especially deep. The email search warrant production revealed that the Defendant has a close personal relationship with the Vice President of Liberia.
“Moreover, during the execution of the search warrant at the Defendant’s residence on April 20, 2022, agents discovered that the Defendant was in possession of a Diplomatic Liberian passport.
“That the Defendant, who occupies no formal diplomatic position within the Liberian government (a fact the Defendant admitted at the detention hearing), was nonetheless in possession of a Diplomatic Liberian Passport is powerful evidence of the strength of the Defendant’s connections to the highest levels of the Liberian government.
“The Defendant is, after all, a citizen of Liberia, not the United States. A connection like this, therefore, only enhances the Defendant’s already elevated risk of nonappearance,” Judge Sullivan noted.
A diplomatic Passport is a class of passports that may be issued or be granted only to persons or individuals who are or may be required or assigned to represent the Republic of Liberia as a Diplomatic agent in foreign nations.
Meanwhile, the government, through the Ministry of Justice and the Financial Intelligence Unit of Liberia, has secured a freezing order on the accounts of Bassirou and the managers of his company. The accounts were frozen at 10 Liberian Banks.
According to a court document, the government sought the freezing order on the business and personal accounts, held by Royal Gold Trading Company INC., its CEO Sheikh Bassirou Kante, and managers Gabriel Itoka and Kpadeh T. Jackson within the banks for factual and legal reasons.
The banks include SIB Liberia Limited, Guarantee Trust Bank Liberia Limited (GTBank), United Bank for Africa (UBA), Eco-Bank, Access Bank, International Bank (Liberia) Ltd., Liberia Bank for Development & Investment (LBDI), Afriland Bank and City Trust Bank, Global Bank.
The government noted that Royal Gold Trading Company INC., located in Sinkor, Montserrado County, was registered on November 9, 2021, to conduct post-harvest crop activities in Liberia.
According to the Ministry of Justice and the Financial Intelligence Unit, its preliminary investigation has established that Royal Gold Trading Company INC. is operating contrary to its purpose of establishment; and has been involved directly and or through its CEO in questionable activities, from which suspicious funds are generated, structured, and deposited into its accounts and accounts of its CEO and managers.
At the same time, the petitioners (Ministry of Justice and the FIU) further averred that ROYAL’s CEO has been arrested in the United States of America (USA), on grounds of the alleged commission of wire fraud and money laundering connecting, the proceeds of the crimes of wire fraud and money laundering to a relative of Sheikh Bassirou Kante who has made questionable deposits into Royal’s accounts in Liberia.
The petitioners further noted that from its preliminary investigation, it has probable cause or reasons to believe, that the funds that are currently in the accounts of Royal Gold Trading Company INC., its CEO Sheikh Bassirou Kante and Managers Gabriel Itoka and Kpadeh T. Jackson are proceeds of crime which is a fit subject for a freeze by the Provisional Remedies Law of 2013 and the Money Laundering Act of 2012 of the Republic of Liberia.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.