Source: FrontPage Africa
Buchanan, Grand Bassa County-
|Laurence K. Bropleh|
Bropleh, embroiled in an almost US$300,000 theft at the Information Ministry, resigned the post shortly after being indicted by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) following an audit of the foreign mission payroll of the Ministry.
The fallen minister was immediately suspended by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf after some of the auditees tied him into the fraud, recommending that the Ministry of Finance calculate the appropriate interest over the period Bropleh allegedly siphoned the money from state coffers through fraudulent means.
The audit held the suspended Information Minister responsible for three major fraudulent transactions including payments allegedly made to four ghost employees, salaries and allowances of Bernard Warity collected by the suspended Minister for eight months and money paid to ghost name Nathaniel Walker upon the directive of Bropleh.
“Minister Laurence K. Bropleh should be made to immediately restitute US$262,772.73. This represents the funds he misappropriated from the fraudulent processing and payments of salaries to four ghost names in the amount of US$207,160.72, the US$21,807.08 he misappropriated from the salaries and allowances paid in the name of Bernard Waritay, the US$13,855.20 he misappropriated from the salaries and allowances paid in the name of James Essieh, US$9, 569.73 he authorized and paid to ghost worker Nathaniel Walker and US$10,380.00 he authorized withdrawn from the operating account of MICAT at the CBL. Minister Bropleh should be made to restitute the total at an interest determined by the Minister of Finance on the basis of prevailing market rate, compounded monthly since salary and allowances are paid on a monthly basis”, the audit recommended.
Beside restitution, the audit stated that the Ministry of Justice institutes the appropriate legal means to remedy the fraudulent act committed by suspended Minister Bropleh.
“The Government of Liberia, through the Minister of Justice, should institute the appropriate legal procedure to remedy the fraudulent payroll transaction committed by Minister Laurence K. Bropleh”, auditors recommended.
Bropleh was in February, 2010 indicted along with two others from the Ministry–former MICAT Comptroller, Joseph Z. Nyamunue, Sr. and former Chief Accountant, Josiah B.S. Gwaee by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County, Criminal Court ‘A’ at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, and have since been forwarded to the Criminal Court ‘C’, which has legal jurisdiction over the trial.
Promise To Work With Bassa People
During an interactive forum held at the ‘All People, One People Atai Shop’ on Tubman Street in the Port City of Buchanan, Bropleh promised to work along with the citizens of the county if he is elected as their next representative for the seat currently being held by Representative Gabriel B. Smith of the Liberty Party.
Why not promising to build roads, the former minister told his audience that he will do his best to make the Bassa citizens to achieve more because, according to him, working with them would enable him to make discussions.
Bropleh’s declaration was supported by Charles Taylor’s former Defense Minister Daniel Chea, himself a possible aspirant for the junior senatorial seat of the county who told the audience to put their trust in the resigned information minister.
Speaking on his own indictment, Bropleh told the interactive forum that he was indicted for criminal facilitation but the February’s indictment of the former information minister holds him liable for theft of property and criminal conspiracy in addition to the criminal facilitation.
According to the indictment, between the period of November 2006 and September 2009, defendants Bropleh, Nyamunue and Gwagee, “without any color of right and the fear of God; and in violation of the statutory laws of Liberia, knowingly, purposely, intentionally, criminally, stole, took and carried away, and converted sundry amounts from various accounts of GOL, under various schemes, and acting in concert, did place on GOL payroll names of Foreign Service personnel who are not legitimate employees of the Ministry of Information.”
The indictment further said the men forged the signatures of some legitimate Foreign Service personnel as well as fictitious persons. They had also signed for and received the salary checks totaling US$208,407.01 and converted the said amount to their personal use.
The actions of the defendants, according to the indictment, is in violation of sections 15.51, 15.70 and 10.2 of the Penal Laws of the Republic of Liberia.
Count one of the Court’s indictment states that: “the defendants, Joseph Z. Nyamunue Sr. and Josiah B.S. Gwagee did commit theft of property, while serving as comptroller and chief accountant at the Ministry of Information, by placing the names of Foreign Service personnel who are not legitimate employees of the Information Ministry; did forge the signature of some legitimate Foreign Service personnel, received their salaries and converted same to their personal use and benefit to the disadvantage of the plaintiff, Republic of Liberia.”
It remains unclear as to Bropleh’s chances of winning the legislative seat in the midst of both his alleged role in the corruption that brought him down from the governmental post that had him to be one of the President’s closest aides and in an election that promises to be a hot one for an electoral constituency in the country’s second seaport city.