Liberia: Sanctioned Officials of Govt Resign

Monrovia — President George Weah has accepted the resignations of the three top designated officials who were subsequently suspended by him.

Nathaniel McGill, Syrennius Cephus and Bill Twehway resigned from their respective positions on Monday. They were all sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Treasury nearly a month ago.

McGill and Cephus have both claimed innocence. While McGill, former Minister of State, claimed the Americans were misinformed or may have gotten information on the ‘wrong McGill’, Cllr. Cephus blamed his woes on the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Musa Dean. Cephus was the Solicitor General. Twehway who headed the National Port Authority (NPA) had been mute since the pronouncement of the sanctions on August 15.

They were suspended by the President 24 hours after they were designated. There were, however, mounting calls from political activists and civil society organizations calling for the dismissal and prosecution of the designated officials.

McGill, according to the Treasury Department bribed business owners, received bribes from potential investors, and accepted kickbacks for steering contracts to companies in which he has an interest. McGill has manipulated public procurement processes in order to award multi-million dollar contracts to companies in which he has ownership, including by abusing emergency procurement processes to rig contract bids. McGill is credibly accused of involvement in a wide range of other corrupt schemes including soliciting bribes from government office seekers and misappropriating government assets for his personal gain. He has used government funds allocated to other Liberian government institutions to run his own projects, made off-the-books payments in cash to senior government leaders, and organized warlords to threaten political rivals. McGill has received an unjustified stipend from various Liberian government institutions and used his position to prevent his misappropriation from being discovered. McGill regularly distributes thousands of dollars in undocumented cash to other government officials for government and non-government activities.

McGill was designated for being a foreign person who is a current government official (now former) who is responsible for or complicit in, or who has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.

Cephus reportedly developed close relationships with suspects of criminal investigations and has received bribes from individuals in exchange for having their cases dropped. Cephus has worked behind the scenes to establish arrangements with subjects of money laundering investigations to cease investigations in order to personally benefit financially. He shielded money launderers and helps clear them through the court system and intimidated other prosecutors in an attempt to quash investigations. Cephus also utilized his position to hinder investigations and block the prosecution of corruption cases involving members of the government. Cephus has been accused of tampering with and purposefully withholding evidence in cases involving members of opposition political parties to ensure conviction.

Cephus was designated for being a foreign person who is a current government official (now former) who is responsible for or complicit in, or who has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.

Twehway orchestrated the diversion of $1.5 million in vessel storage fee funds from the NPA into a private account. Twehway secretly formed a private company to which, through his position at the NPA, he later unilaterally awarded a contract for loading and unloading cargo at the Port of Buchanan. The contract was awarded to the company less than a month after its founding. Twehway and others used family members to obfuscate their own involvement in the company while still benefitting financially from the company.

Twehway was designated for being a foreign person who is a current government official who is responsible for or complicit in or has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.

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