Varney Sherman Resigns as LPRC’s Board Chairman
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Liberia Petroleum Refining
Company (LPRC), Cllr. Varney G. Sherman has resigned.
Cllr. Sherman’s resignation has come amidst contention and suspicion by former warring parties, who are also signatories to the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA), over his appointment as chairman of the LPRC’s Board of Directors.
The contending parties claimed that his preferment by NTGL Chairman Gyude Bryant was to give him an unfair advantage being an aspirant for the 2005 presidency. They said he would divert funds from the LPRC to his campaign activities as well as allegedly his law firm, Sherman and Sherman as lawyers of West Oil, one of the importers of petroleum products in the country.
In his letter of resignation to the Chairman of the NTGL dated August 2, 2004, Cllr. Sherman acknowledged that these contentious issues were raised at the recent Accra Meeting and that Chairman Bryant is fully aware that there is no basis in fact for these allegation.
He reminded Chairman Bryant that he, Cllr. Sherman was asked to serve as LPRC Chairman merely to bring his (Sherman) expertise in corporate governance to LPRC, emphasizing "anyone who understands elementary principles of governance will never conclude that my mere chairmanship would in any way divert funds to finance my political activities."
02 August 2004
His Excellency C. Gyude Bryant
Chairman, National Transitional Government of Liberia
The Executive Mansion
It has come to my attention that at the recent meeting in Accra, Ghana of the warring parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and you my chairmanship of the Board of Directors of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) was a contentious issue. I am informed that one of the accusations is that by your preferment of me as the Chairman you are giving me unfair advantage as an aspirant for the Presidency of the Republic of Liberia as compared to other aspirants. I am also informed that you were accused that the purpose for which you appointed me as LPRC’s Board Chairman is to divert funds from LPRC to my campaign and that the political activities held by me had been funded by LPRC. I am further informed that I and my law firm, Sherman & Sherman, were even alleged to be lawyers for West Oil Investments, Inc., one of the importers of petroleum products in Liberia.
You are fully aware that there is no basis in fact for these allegations. Neither I nor Sherman & Sherman is or has ever been lawyer for West Oil Investment; in fact, since your ascendancy to the Chairmanship of the National Transitional Government of Liberia, Sherman & Sherman adopted a policy that it would not accept new commercial client so that my relationship with you would not be exploited and so that my integrity would not be compromised. As a consequence of that policy, we have lost business opportunities which our firm would have otherwise had.
You asked me to serve as LPRC’s Board Chairman merely to bring my expertise in corporate governance to LPRC and to facilitate the proper reporting of profits through the declaration of dividends to its sole shareholder (the National Transitional Government of Liberia). Your mandate was in light of the fact that it is unknown that LPRC ever reported dividends to the Liberian Government; and your confidence in me was based on my expertise acquired from the classroom both as a student and a professor of corporate law and also acquired from more than two decades of serving as a corporate lawyer and serving on the boards of several corporations in Liberia.
Anyone who understands elementary principles of corporate governance will never conclude that my mere chairmanship would in anyway divert funds to finance my political activities; and anyone who cares to investigate LPRC’s affairs will also find that at no time has LPRC ever diverted funds to my political activities or ever provided any special and extraordinary favor or consideration for me. I have conducted the affairs of LPRC’s Board with the same level of competence, integrity and credibility as I have done for my personal business interests and the business interests of other corporations which I served either as lawyer or board member over many years. LPRC’s management and my colleagues on LPRC’s Board can attest to this.
You are aware that I am not one of financial inconsequence and my financial relationships are fairly extensive. Therefore it is ludicrous for anyone to assume that I would use LPRC’s funds to finance my political activities. I certainly don’t need LPRC’s funds or other sources of illicit funds to finance my political activities now. I financed my political campaign for the Liberian Senate and helped finance the campaign of the Alliance of Political Parties in 1997 from the same sources that I am now financing my political activities; and none of these sources was a government-owned corporation or any interest of the Liberian government.
I am aware that some Liberians are not familiar with decent characters because there is absolutely no decency in themselves. Since some Liberians would use a chairmanship of LPRC to extort money from those with whom LPRC does business and/or would divert LPRC’s revenue to their personal use, they conclude that I would do the same. Such Liberians don’t know me; I am not like them and would never, ever be like them. It is not merely competence that has catapulted me to pre-eminence in the legal profession; it is also integrity and good character; and I hold these two very dearly.
Having said the above, I have decided that I can’t continue to serve as Chairman of LPRC’s Board of Directors under the cloud of suspicion that some representatives of the warring parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement have tried to place over me and my activities. I certainly don’t want to be known by the facilitators of our peace process as the lawyer who was accused by the warring parties of financial misconduct and he remained at the position; I want to eventually be remembered by them as the President of Liberia - a man of competence, character, integrity and credibility. If I were to continue to serve as Chairman of LPRC’s Board, these accusers will conclude that the only reason why I wouldn’t resign is that their accusations are correct. I would never ever give them that level of comfort or credit. Worse still, these unfounded accusations, which certain representatives of warring parties would persist in making as long as I serve as Chairman of LPRC’s Board, could adversely affect my campaign for the Presidency of Liberia and could distract you from the very important task of taking our country back to genuine peace and stability.
I therefore hereby submit my resignation as Chairman of LPRC’s Board of Directors effective immediately.
You will recall that about two months ago I advised that as soon as I am elected the Standard Bearer of the Liberia Action Party (LAP) I would resign the chairmanship of LPRC’s Board of Director to devote all my time and energies to my campaign for the Presidency of Liberia. Considering that LAP’s Convention is tentatively scheduled to be held before the end of this year, this resignation is merely a few months earlier than I had planned. I trust therefore that it would not materially adversely affect any plans you have for LPRC.
You continue to be my friend; and if there is any other way that I can help or assist you in the conduct of the affairs of the National Transitional Government of Liberia, I will be glad to do so without compensation or other reward, and provided that my services will be task-oriented, not a full-time job.
Very truly yours,
H. Varney G. Sherman