Monday, July 5, 2010

Defendants Guilty In Ecobank- Central Bank US$1.1M Case in Liberia

By  M. Welemongai Ciapha, II 07/06/2010 -


Monrovia -

A 12-member empanelled jury at Criminal Court “C”, Temple of Justice in Monrovia Monday rendered a unanimous guilty verdict against Mars Jusu Paasewe and his brother Richard Paasewe in the US$1.1 million case.

Records from the court revealed that defendant Mars introduced Richard to the deal for the transfer of the money from the account of the government of Liberia (GOL) to a private account at the Ecobank.

State Prosecutor M. Wilkins Wright told the jurors that the case is about forgery, theft and conspiracy.

Gbotee Peabody, one of the accused, was acquitted of the charges of criminal conspiracy, forgery and theft of property on grounds that Mars, who is the principal defendant, had testified that they were tortured and frightened with snake during an investigation at the headquarters of the National Security Agency (NSA) to lie on Gbotee.

Outlining the theory of the case, M. Wilkins Wright, who is the chief prosecutor for the GOL, told the jurors that the case is about forgery, theft and conspiracy.

Cllr. Wright further told the court that each of the three defendants played a major role in transferring the money.

The state lawyer stated after Gbotee had called Mars and provided details of the plan, Mars informed his brother Richard that an account could be opened in the name of E-Jee Sirleaf, where the money would have been transferred.

He argued that Gbotee processed the forms, which enable them to do the withdrawal of US$2,000 from Ecobank’s Vai Town branch.

On the issue of the defendants’ claim that Cllr. Wright told them to admit to guilt because of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s interest in the case, Cllr. Wright clarified that his action was predicated on the defendants’ sister request to help her two brothers out of the trouble.

Defense Witness Mars Jusu Paasewe was found guilty

“The CBL is not on trial. I went to the prison compound, but I did not tell them to lie. I went there [and] that’s my job. Their sister and I went there and asked for me to help them. I told their sister that the evidence government has against them was cogent,” Cllr. Wright clarified.

He contended that the accused should be brought down guilty of the crimes charged, because if they could forge the president’s signature to withdraw money from the bank, they can even forge her signature to declare war.

He asserted that the acts of corruption are not only carry out by government officials alone, but any act of dishonesty as in the instant case.

“Government is asking you to bring a guilty verdict,” he added.

However, one of the prosecutors, Theophilius C. Gould, informed the jurors not to be carried away by ‘sentiment’ that NSA has a snake to scare suspects.

Cllr. Gould, a long time criminal lawyer, noted that the defendants themselves admitted to the crimes of forgery, theft and criminal conspiracy.

He further maintained that the defendants wanted to embarrass the President of Liberia.

“Criminals have the propensity to destroy this jurisdiction, but you have to set the record straight,” Cllr. Gould averred.

The defense led by David Woah, however, took a different trend in his argument, stating that Charles Sirleaf told the accused that the only way he would help them was to open an account in the name of E-Jee Sirleaf, which he could control.

Atty. Woah told the jurors that Charles used the name of one Gbotoe, different from the defendant Gbotee.

He argued that when Richard was arrested, as one of the defendants, he told the personnel of the NSA that it was Charles (the president’s son) who opened the account for his trust fund.

According to Atty. Woah, a transfer of money from a bank to another bank cannot be made possible without the assistance of an insider.

“Remember, if you convict these defendants, you will be prosecuted for the untouchable. They are innocent,” Atty. Woah contended.

For his part, Atty. S. L. Lofen Keaneh, also a defense lawyer, closing the arguments, said Charles lied and deceived the defendants the he has a trust fund called E-Jee Sirleaf at Ecobank.

The case was presided over by judge James N. Gilayeneh. The final judgment is expected to be handed down five days from Monday.

The state was represented by Cllr. J. Daku Mulbah, Cllr. Augustine C. Fayiah, Cllr. Samuel K. Jacobs, Atty. Stephen J. H. Zargo, while the defense team was headed by Atty. David Woah, Atty. Dallama Solunteh and Atty. L. S. Lofen Keaneh.

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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