Home Governance Corrosive Force! …US Describes Unchecked Corruption In Liberia; Justifies Sanctions Against Several Key Officials

Corrosive Force! …US Describes Unchecked Corruption In Liberia; Justifies Sanctions Against Several Key Officials

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By: H. Richard Fallah

MONROVIA: The Charge d` Affaires of the United States Embassy near Monrovia, Catherine Rodriguez, has told the Liberian Nation that “when corruption goes unchecked at higher levels, it signals to everyone else that it is ok to charge citizens extra for services that they are already paying for through their taxes.”

“Unchecked corruption, along with a lack of accountability becomes a corrosive force on society stifling the growth and advancement of your family,” she noted.

Addressing a media roundtable recently at the US Embassy in Monrovia, the American Diplomat also provided detailed information on the implications of the recent sanctions imposed by the U.S Department of States, against four Liberian officials.

Madame Rodriguez noted that those who have been sanctioned by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), under the Global Magnitsky Act, will along with their families, no longer be able to utilize the U.S. banking system; and that they will have a lifetime ban on visiting the United States.

Madame Rodriguez: “7031(c) provides that, in cases where the Secretary of State has credible information that foreign officials have been involved in significant corruption or a gross violation of human rights, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.”
According to her, the United States will continue to promote accountability, stand up for human rights, and fight corruption.

“I want to speak to you about corruption and its impact on your life and what you can do about it, corruption doesn’t only affect your life today but also threatens your family’s future,” she asserted.

The US envoy noted that the world is a global marketplace, and that Liberia, like other countries in the world, must compete for new business opportunities, for foreign assistance, and for international financing.

According to the top American diplomat, “the fortunes of all Liberians are squandered when government corruption becomes a factor in decision making.”

“So, what can you do about it?” she asked rhetorically, while providing some best ways forward.

According to the US Embassy Charge d` Affaires, “corruption has been around for thousands of years and exists in every society, including the United States. It is not the fact that corruption exists that’s important, but rather what you do about it.”
Madam Rodriguez: “I hear from my own employees and those Liberians I have met during my time here who tell me that their salary supports not only themselves and their children but also their extended family members who are unemployed.”

The US Diplomat: “They grumble about paying taxes, they know it’s a necessity but ask, “Where is the money going?”

At the same time, she told the news roundtable that the American government is uplifted to hear that dealing with the pernicious (evil) issue of corruption is one of the priorities of the incoming government, which may be headed by now President-elect, Joseph Nyuma Boakai.

President-elect Boakai is expected to be inaugurated on 22, January, 2024.
She encouraged the Government of Liberia to make it easier for regular citizens and honest government workers to report acts of fraud and corruption.
According to the diplomat, Liberia does have institutions that are capable of investigating and prosecuting corruption and holding wrongdoers accountable.

“It does have institutions and procedures for ensuring transparent and competitive procurement of goods and services to ensure the best value for you, the citizens of Liberia,” she maintained.

She indicated that the U.S Embassy has witnessed few successes as demonstrated with the Anti-Corruption Champion award bestowed upon a Liberian, Marc Kollie, this year by US Secretary of State, Blinken for his fight against corruption.

However, she added that “a few successes here and there are not sufficient but that what is needed is consistent political will within the executive branch and legislature to ensure these institutions have the support and resources they need to carry out the work they were created to do.”

“There needs to be greater transparency in government, and you should know where your tax money is going,” she challenged.

Madame Rodriguez, at the same time, reminded the Liberian media about the essential role in transparency, both by reporting important and accurate information, but also by reporting on how government’s funding is being spent and how it affects Liberians’ lives.

She mentioned that it is essential that when corruption is uncovered, action is taken, while in minor incidents, employees can be fired or disciplined, for major incidents, they should face prosecution.

She asserted that the United States as one of Liberia`s oldest and strongest partners in the international community, as an employer of hundreds of Liberians, and as one of the largest international donors, remains committed to the best for the country.

At the same time, Rodriguez described Liberia as an example in the West African region for conducting free, fair and peaceful elections.

“We congratulate the winners in the legislative elections, president-elect Boakai on his victory, President Weah for his peaceful acceptance of the results, and the NEC for the professional conduct and transparency of their work,” she noted.

According to the U.S envoy, since Liberia’s successful presidential and legislative elections; it has been a historic period.

She also congratulated Liberians for demonstrating to the world their enthusiasm for democracy by coming out and voting in large numbers.

So far, the Liberian government is yet to officially respond to the United States government on imposition of sanctions on four of its officials who include Monrovia City Mayor, Jefferson Koijee, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel D. Tweah; Margibi County Senator, Emmanuel J. Nuquay; and Grand Kru County Senator, Albert Tugbe Chief, who doubled as President Pro-tempore of the Liberian senate.

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