The government of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will Tuesday release to the public the findings of a commission set up by her to probe allegations revealed in published emails that senior members of her government were involved in bribery and corruption.
The commission, chaired by U.S.-based Liberian university professor D. Elwood Dunn, was to look into the authenticity of some emails which alleged that some current and former Sirleaf government officials solicited bribes from an American who head the Liberian International Shipping Corporate Registry (LISCR).
Information minister Lawrence Bropleh, who will make the report public, told VOA the report found no earth-shaking revelation.
“What the public will see is that this was a report and commission that the government had no interference over, provided the resources, over $200,000 United States dollars for it to do its work. And you will see that the report is clear and provides some recommendations to the government, but in essence said that there are further investigations that must take place principally regarding some of the key players, inclusive of Mr. Willis Knuckles,” he said.
One of the mandates of the so-called Dunn Commission was to ascertain the authenticity of the more than 100 emails. Bropleh said the commission’s report is recommending further investigation into the authenticity of the emails.
Bropleh also said President Sirleaf has found one of the emails to be authentic.
“Prior to even Dr. Dunn’s Commission being set up, the President, the government of Liberia said that one particular email exchange between the office of the presidency and Mr. Knuckles was authentic. This was the email where Mr. Knuckles was asking for repayment for expenses incurred when he served as a minister of state. The President’s response to Minister Knuckles, which some Websites did not carry, said that if these charges that you are now asserting the government may owe you are legitimate, then you have to follow the process of submitting your receipts, etc. verifying that these are legitimate government expenses when you served as the Minister of State and it will have to go through the regular process or repayment through the ministry of finance. That has been established as authentic.
There are speculations that the Dunn Commission report will recommended that disciplinary action be taken against some of the officials allegedly implicated in the emails scandal, including even dismissal.
But Bropleh said the report did not recommend that any disciplinary action be taken. Instead he said those who might be found guilty in the scandal would be turned over to the country’s anti-corruption commission.
“What the investigation proves is that it cannot identify with certainty or to prove that there are any outright acts of corruption associated with the email saga. What the report does say is that at a point that it has investigated, there needs to be some further investigation beyond what this commission has done. What the President has said is that this matter now will be turned over to the Anti-Corruption Commission (headed by former justice minister Frances Johnson-Morris) and those who may be linked to this or may be found to be guilty of whatever charges, the Anti-Corruption Commission through its act has got the proclivity to act upon it,” he said.
When pressed further whether the report recommends any disciplinary action against Director General of Cabinet Medina Wesseh, Justice Minister Phillip Banks or President Sirleaf’s brother-in-law and security advisor Estrada Bernard, Bropleh said the report did not recommend such action.
“The report does not do that and that is because what we saw in the emails, a mere allegations, the mentioning of names, there has been nothing to authenticate that these individuals had been involved in the receipt of bribes or had been involved party to concocting how they may be able to defraud the government as it relates to the LISCR (Liberian International Shipping Corporate Registry) agreement for the maritime program,” Bropleh said.