Wednesday, December 11, 2018: The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) in collaboration with USAID and UNDP on Monday, December 10, 2018 ended programs in celebration of International Anti-Corruption Day (IACD). This year’s celebration which took place in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County was held from December 7-10, 2018 with series of activities befitting the occasion.
Delivering the keynote address at this year’s IACD Day in Buchanan, Deputy Education Minister for Administration, Latim Da-Thong who represented the Liberian leader urged Liberians to evaluate the real effect of corruption and what it does to society. He said corruption is an immoral and unethical menace that has the propensity of destroying any civilized society, adding that it does only refer to money, but our behaviors, characters and moral attitude.
The Deputy Minister told the gathering that when a Liberian participate in corruption, he or she benefits themselves but cheat our children, grandchildren and generation to come. He said, those that steal public funds must be made to understand that, their actions slow down the growth of the very nation they steal from, makes it impossible to improve schools, hospitals, roads and other necessities require for society to move forward. He said, those of us holding public officials accountable should note this” whoever fights a monster, should see to it the process for fighting do not become a monster”. We should start with ourselves first as Liberians so that the job can be done with clarity and sincerity to maintain high walls and ethical standards.
Also speaking at the occasion, CENTAL’s Executive Director, Anderson D. Miamen said seeking to abolish tenure positions at key public integrity institutions will undermine the effectiveness and independence of these institutions and make their heads and key managers vulnerable to political manipulations. He urged government to be sincere and truly committed to fight against corruption by being practical and removing the culture of impunity that will serve as a deterrent to current and would-be corrupt officials and individuals.
In addition, the Swedish Ambassador, H.E. Ingrid Wetterqvist also said, corruption has many faces and fuels poverty and inequality. Ambassador Wetterqvist said greed is another driver that leads people in positions of power, who have many things still want to have even more at the detriment of rules and regulations. Corruption feeds on culture of impunity, lack of political will, limited citizens’ participation in demanding accountability and transparency from policy makers. But there can be a change and is all about changing mindsets.
Making remarks at the program, the Executive Chairperson of the LACC, Cllr. James N. Verdier, jr. admonished students to ‘say no to corruption’ which he noted can go a long way in the fight against corruption. The LACC boss stressed the need for more awareness programs along with prosecution which he pointed out would help greatly to reduce corruption.
The theme for the 2018 International Anti-Corruption Day Celebration was “Say No to Corruption, Every No Counts” and slogan, “United Against Corruption”. This year’s program was sponsored by UNDP and USAID
Denna A. Gibson
Public Relations Assistant
December 3, 2018: The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) held a two-day training workshop for High Risk Public Institutions on “Enhancing Corruption Prevention Effort” in Ganta City, Nimba County from November 28-29, 2018.
The training covered wide range of ant-corruption issues such as “Corruption and the Budget process”; “Liberia’s Assets Declaration and Verification System”; “Corruption Prevention Techniques”; and “Conflict of Interest in the Context of Law”.
Additionally, presentations were made on “The Role of LACC in the Fight Against Corruption” and the Legal Framework in the Fight Against Corruption, with emphasis on investigation and prosecution.
The corruption prevention effort in high risk public institutions workshop seeks to identify vulnerabilities for corruption in Ministries, Agencies and Commissions (MACs), as no institution is immune to corrupt practices. However, some institutions are more susceptible to high corruption risk because the risk of corruption is inherent in the nature of their work. Institutions considered high risk include MACs with huge service delivery responsibilities and income generation activities, coupled with high traffic of human interactions; thereby breeding fertile ground for corrupt behavior. If these risks are allowed to continue unabated, they undermine the greater good and impede accountability.
Therefore, enhancing corruption prevention effort in public institutions is crucial due to system weaknesses which may present opportunities for corruption. Corruption prevention mechanisms are indispensable to the survival of institutions, particularly in an economy in which many institutions are vulnerable to corruption and other fraudulent activities as a result of inadequate policies, procedures and leadership which are necessary ingredients for employees to perform their duties effectively.
The training brought together representatives from Ministry of Commerce & Industry; Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA); Liberia National Police (LNP); Liberia Electricity Cooperation (LEC); Liberia Airport Authority (LAA); Liberia Immigration Service; Ministry of Transport; Ministry of Labor; Ministry of Finance & Development Planning; and Ministry of Health
At the close of the training, a representative of the participants, Deputy Public works Minister for Administration Joseph P. Todd praised the LACC for its efforts in bringing important government institutions together on issues of corruption.
Todd, a former government auditor, reminded participants of the critical role they play in their various institutions and said he hopes the results from the training will serve as critical starting point in curbing corruption in the future.
The training provided ample opportunity for information sharing and practical measures for officials from these ministries and agencies to avoid corruption in the performance of their duties, highlighted the mandate LACC and it provided additional tap on ring-fencing new public officials from corrupt practices.
Thursday, November 22, 2018: The Executive Chairperson of the Liberia Anti-corruption Commission (LACC), Cllr. James N. Verdier, Jr. calls on His Excellency, the President of Liberia and the Legislature to ensure that laws granting security of tenure to integrity institutions remain undisturbed in so far as it grants security and tenure to all members of the commissions and not only the heads and deputy heads.
The LACC Boss further said, with two very important bills granting protection to witnesses and protecting reporting persons/whistle blower continuing to languish and decay in the legislature since they were presented in 2017, we observe with interest the pace at which several bills presented to the legislature are being expeditiously passed into law by both houses since the sitting of the 54th legislature as a serious concern.
He also said the lack of strong complimentary and supporting legislations, logistical and financial resources; coupled with either a “Non-existing” or “Luke Warm” political will within the three branches of government continue to undermine the capacity and professionalism of the LACC in delivering its herculean mandate according to part V.5:1 of the act which gave the commission appropriate authority for implementing investigation and prosecution, as well as preventing of acts of corruption through public awareness.
In addition, he said, an institution and group of officials and staff who are charged with the responsibilities of investigating every individual in the length and breadth of Liberia, excluding the president must not be left to run after the Ministry of Finance on a monthly basis for its budgetary allocation, noting LACC’s allocation, including salaries and operational funds should be disbursed on a quarterly basis in keeping with the financial autonomy of the Commission. Anything to the contrary exposes the institution to scorn and reduces its esteem.
Cllr. Verdier emphasized that every public official and employee of government involved in making decisions affecting contracting, tendering or procurement, and issuance of licenses of various types, shall sign performance or financial bond and in addition declare his or her income, assets and liabilities prior to taking office, as there were misinformation and misinterpretation of the laws and regulations surrounding asset declarations.
According to the 2018 Asset Declaration Report, ninety two (92) public officials from the Executive Branch declared out of an expected Four Hundred sixty two (462), representing 20%; Three Hundred Thirty Three (333) officials from the Judiciary Branch declared, representing 83%; and none from Legislative Branch comprising the House of Representative and Senate declared, representing 0%.
The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) will this weekend begin an intensive and strategic anti-corruption training exercise for local Government authorities across the Country.
The training will focus on corruption and the budget process of the country, Assets Declaration, Conflict of Interest and Civil Society role in the fight against corruption.
The Commission hopes the training will serve as additional safeguards for new local government officials to ring-fence against acts of corruption in their different areas of work.
County Health teams, County Education Team, Police and Immigration authorities from Gbarpolu, Bomi, Cape Mount and Montserrado Counties will gather in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County beginning Thursday, November 1, for the exercise.
A similar group from Bong, Lofa, Nimba and Margibi are also expected to gather in Gbarnga next Monday for a related training.
The training which is under the support of the African Development Bank through the Public Financial Management Reforms Program is part of initiatives to strengthen the Commission’s Prevention of corruption activities with the hope of bringing greater understanding to public officials implementing a corruption free budget.
The LACC’s Executive Chairperson, Cllr. James Verdier, AfDB Country Representative Dr. Orison Amu and Grand Bassa County Superintendent Janjay Biakpeh are expected to give opening remarks at the program.
October 4, 2018: The Technical Committee of the Presidential Investigation Team held its first press conference today at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT).
In his introductory statement, Hon. Charles J. L. Gibson, III, Oversight Commissioner for the Investigation & Enforcement Division at the LACC and head of the Technical Committee of the PIT, indicated that the Technical Committee officially started work on the 1st of October.
He urged Liberians to be patient as the Committee is carefully proceeding with the investigation.
He then turned over to Hon. Alex Cuffy, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Financial Intelligence UNIT (FIU) and Coordinator of the PIT/TC who gave a chronology of events from August to September 2018, which included the receiving of reports from a “Whistle Blower” concerning suspicious activities on the importation of currency banknotes to the constitution of the PIT.
He explained that all but two of the organizations invited to participate on the PIT, the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) and the National Muslim Council declined participation. The LCC asked to be withdrawn because it wishes to remain neutral, while the National Muslim Council did not honor the invitation to be part of the committee.
The Coordinator of the PIT Technical Committee noted among other things that the TOR of the Committee included but not limited to the review of authorization to print and order currency banknotes; full accountability for Liberian Dollar banknotes; foreign currency banknotes, legacy and mutilated banknotes, foreign currency auction/exchange; and infusion of the $25 million in the economy as well as interview persons of interest.
Hon. Cuffy assured the public that the Committee has the capacity, integrity and tenacity to conduct and conclude the investigation and called on the government for the needed funds to support the investigation, and considers this a “PATRIOT CALL TO DUTY”
He called on the public and members of the press to report any information that will assist the ongoing investigation and guaranteed their privacy and full protection under the law.
Meanwhile, the PIT advised all members of the Legislature and Executive branches of government to refrain from issuing press releases, making press statements and utterances in the public especially without consulting the PIT; as it has the propensity to prejudize the ongoing investigation.
Hon. Cuffy says that the PIT estimates a final report earliest in six weeks.
During the question and answer period, the PIT noted that even with the press statement coming from the CBL indicating that no money is missing; the committee will continue its investigation, and asserted that the CBL could have come out with the information a long time ago.
On the inclusion of the FBI, IMF and other international partners on the PIT, the Committee reiterated that the Presidential Investigation Team has the capacity to conduct the probe and expects to work with its international partners whenever they come to Liberia.