Liberia To Seek Recovery Of Its Stolen Millions In Swiss Banks & Related Others? : Unlikely, Because . . .
By Bai M. Gbala, Sr.
In an Editorial entitled, “No Time For Inaction”, the FPA newspaper held that “Liberia Must Move to Recover Exported Millions (FrontpageAfricaonline, Feruary 12, 2015)”.
This is in response to reports of Leaked Analysis by an International Consortium of Investigative Journalists indicating that “Liberia ranks 57th (with stolen, US $59.5 million deposited in foreign banks) of 203 countries” worldwide, with billions of stolen, national money stashed away in Swiss and other foreign Banks, by crooks, criminals and corrupt, “government officials” of these countries, including Liberians and their associates.
The FPA Editorial, also, is in apparent response to what the Paper reported that “Dr. Yeboah (Member of Ghana Parliament) challenged Ghana Attorney General . . . to go after the wealthy Ghanaians . . . said to have stashed $89 million in several . . . private bank accounts in Switzerland . . . The Leaked Swiss files ranks Ghana 106 among 203 countries with largest dollar amounts in Swiss banks, Liberia is highly rank at 57”.
The paper reports that, according to the leaked reports, that “the maximum amount of money associated with a (Swiss or foreign bank) client connected to Liberia was $59.5 million, a figure that could be . . . much higher based on the number of activities that took place in Liberia during . . . the . . . civil war, involving foreign individuals who operated as foreign investors, transacting deals with rebels leaders . . .”.
The Rape of Liberia
Indeed, in all of the secret wheeling and dealing on a national/international level during our tragedy of the civil war in which secret movement of cash - a lot of cash – was involved and in demand for secret, safe-keeping, banks, especially, Swiss banks and related others, notoriously known for secrecy, were the major choices of Liberian crooks/criminals and their friendly international crooks/criminals, the individuals and organizations who were the major actors/players in and during our historic nightmare.
Yes, record of the systematic, political and economic Rape of our country’s resources in billions of US dollars by Liberian crooks/criminals, with the help and support of their friendly, foreign, international crooks/criminals, is well-known and documented by the United Nations and other world organizations, while the overwhelming majority of Liberian citizens, in isolated towns and villages, lives in abject Poverty, Hunger & Disease.It is reasonable to hope and expect that these crimes against humanity – of mind-boggling maiming, sexual rape, theft, looting, plunder, destruction, human suffering and death, including massive displacement of hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens – will catch up with them, as it has done, and is doing with the over-all, powerful merchant of theft and death, Former President Charles Taylor.
Moreover, the reported record by the New York Times of stolen wealth extracted from our timber, gold and the Sweet-Heart deal of the Taylor regime with the Taiwanese are all known, and a matter of record. The UN record is clear and comprehensive about the criminal activities of such individuals as Sanjivan Ruprah, a Kenyan national (“business” partner of Viktor Bout, the Merchant of Death) granted Liberian passport under the name, Samir M. Nasr, made “Deputy Commissioner” of Liberia’s Maritime Affairs, in association with LISCR; Viktor Bout, a Russian/Ukrainian Arms dealer-Merchant of Death; and the Dutch national, Gus Kouwenhoven’s Oriental Timber Company, all close “business partners with the Liberian chief operator in theft, death and transfer of stolen, Liberia’s billions into foreign banks - His Excellency, Former President Charles Taylor, are a matter of record.
Topping it all off are the highly-questionable activities of LISCR, the Liberian International Shipping & Corporate Registry, our major income-generating agency which had been, and is, managed by questionable characters. It was the major source, during the civil war, for funding the purchase of arms/ammunitions that maimed and killed hundreds of Liberians, according to the UN recorded reports. Today, there are arguments of questionable payments made by LISCR to questionable individuals and organizations, with serious management decisions/questions involving millions of US dollars, not answered or rationalized by LISCR.
The Recovery Effort
Now, for Liberia to seek recovery of its known, stolen billions stashed away in foreign banks, especially, Swiss Banks, with their politically-connected, internationally-experienced, well-funded attorneys in their countries; and to go after well-heeled, international characters such as the Viktor Bouts, etc., etc., characters of or a la “soldiers of fortune”, with no commitment to socio-cultural, legal and moral belief system, but moral decadence with commitment only to money, money and money. Although a reasonable, lawful, moral objective and responsibility, but the context is something else, fraught with several questions, because:
Firstly, the recovery effort requires, will require, legal action against the Swiss banks, related others and the Viktor Bouts, etc., instituted in the various, now unknown, home countries of the defendants. It requires, will require, also, the services of foreign, local, high-priced, international attorneys, because our attorneys may not practice in courts of foreign countries. This reqirement presents another opportunity for foreign travels – air tickets, per diem payments, hotel bills for our attorneys just to hire local, foreign attorneys, since ours may not practice in the courts of foreign countries. Then there is the cost of the high-priced, international attorneys, and the expected postponements, delays for years, etc., etc., with no benefits to Liberia.
The result could or would be “putting good money behind bad money”, with all the attendant costs – foreign travels, air tickets, hotel bills, per diems, local, high-priced attorneys, witness research, etc., etc..
Secondly, in the light of our history of failures to extradite, because it has been alleged, continues to be alleged, that our judicial system is not free and fair, but controlled and dictated by politics. Arguments against this effort to recover may cite the prevailing case of Ellen Corkrum and Melvin Johnson, who have become heroes, with their counter-charges of government corruption, though charged with stealing public money entrusted to them. The Ministry of Justice has been and is unable to extradite them.
And thirdly, the Swiss Banks, related others and the Viktor Bouts know that former rebel drivers, looters, thieves, crooks and criminals – their friends – are now the “Honorables” in Liberia; they are Counselors-at-Law, Judges, Policemen/women, Military and Security Personnel; some are Ministers & Deputies; Managing Directors & Deputies; they are Senators, Representatives; others are citizens of foreign countries – “dual (Liberian & foreign) citizens” – in flagrant violation of Law, Article 30 tof the Liberian Constitution; and they control and dominate the political economy of Liberia. This condition says volumes about potential futility of the proposed Recovery effort.
On the Critical Issues of the Nation
Yes, the “Honorables” are the socio-economic and political power in today’s Liberia, with their brand of law enforcement. Do not take my word for it, just ask yourself the question of what happened to the TRC Report, the result of the celebrated, Ghana CPA and recent “celebration of ten years of peace”. It is gathering dust on the shelves of the offices of the “Honorables”, while the nation is back to “business as usual”, whatever that is.
The economic Rape of our country for personal economic gain by the very few is seen everywhere and known, but no one cares. Land and related, real estate property disputes, the result of rebel encroachments and forced take-overs of property that they (the rebels) do not own abound nation-wide, but no one cares.
Today’s millionaires are, and were, the rebel looters and thieves of the National Treasury, including the nation’s international shipping registry. The land, houses, mansions, swimming pools, expensive, top-of-the-line automobiles were all acquired with stolen, state money; in fact, it is a matter of record that the prevailing, so-called “corporate Liberia” was established by stolen, state funds – based on theft and death. But one dare ask!!
All that is necessary and must be done – reasonable, objective, relevant, doable for the immediate benefit of the nation and people – to rescue the nation’s capital city from socio-economic and political decay is a proposition that is within reach than to pontificate ivory-tower, pie-in-the sky propositions.
The critical issues, Mr. & Mrs. Liberia, demand a return to the national drawing board, as we approach the year 2017, for the next socio-economic and political leadership of our country. “More of the same, including a wild goose chase” are not, any longer, options.