Report claims Liberia’s law changed through bribery to favour private company’s hold on last large mining assets.

The report, The Deceivers, shows how in 2010 Sable hired Varney Sherman, Liberia’s best-connected lawyer and current Chairman of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Unity Party, in an effort to secure one of Liberia’s last large mining assets, the Wologizi iron ore concession in northern Liberia.

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Liberia’s House Speaker also implicated

Sherman allegedly told Sable that in order to obtain the contract the company must first get Liberia’s concessions law changed by bribing senior officials, according to a source familiar with the discussions.

The account is backed up by leaked emails and company documents seen by Global Witness.

According to the documents, Sherman then began distributing Sable’s money to some of Liberia’s most important government officials.

“Sable and Sherman paid bribes in order to change Liberia’s law and get their hands on one of its most prized assets, the Wologizi concession,” said Jonathan Gant, Senior Campaigner with Global Witness.

Report claims Liberia’s law changed through bribery to favour private company’s hold on last large mining assets.

“The government must act fast and investigate Sable, Sherman, and the officials they paid.”

Global Witness uncovered other payments by Sable to officials and unidentified people referred to as “Bigboy 01” and “Bigboy 02.”

While it is not clear why the company made these payments, some of those involved are key to approving contracts.
Fombah Sirleaf, son of President Johnson Sirleaf and head of Liberia’s National Security Agency is also alleged to have benefitted from Sable’s largesse.

In 2011, Sirleaf is alleged to have went on a US$7,598 hunting trip to South Africa paid for by Sable, spending over US$1,000 in a gun shop alone.

There is no evidence that Sirleaf provided Sable with any favours, although he was clearly a useful person to know.

Adapted from Allafrica.com

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