Court Cites Acting Min. Tuan, CBL For Failure To Release Over US$113K Found With Those Not Guilty In US$100M Cocaine Case
Criminal Court “C” has cited the Acting Minister of Justice, Cllr. Nyenati Tuan, and the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) for failure to release over US$113,000 to individuals acquitted in the US$100 million drug case.
On May 29, Justice in Chambers Yamei Q. Gbeisaye, following a conference into a bill of information filed by the Ministry of Justice, issued a mandate to Criminal Court “C” Judge Blamo Dixon to proceed with his ruling in keeping with law. On June 1, Judge Gbeisaye resumed jurisdiction into the matters and immediately bade that the Ministry of Justice: bring the total amount of US$113,045 to the court on June 13 for onward transmission to the informants, by and through their legal counsels.
The court noted that the ministry was given a 12-day period to bring said amount to the court, because it was enough since the Ministry of Justice needed to just do a withdrawal from the Central Bank of Liberia, owing from evidence that the amount was deposited at said bank.
Regardless of the time, the court said, the Ministry of Justice made no effort, with time allotted to them, to get said amount from the CBL.
Furthermore, the court said the amount, which was confiscated by state security from the Ministry of Justice, was made known to it on Tuesday, December 20, 2022, in which they noted that it was arrested from Co-defendant Malaam Conte and deposited at the CBL, in the National Joint Security Escrow Account.
Additionally, the Ministry of Justice noted that another amount of US$11,000 was also arrested from Co-defendant Oliver A. Zazay in Sierra Leone and a receipt of said amount was made available to the court, in which the CBL submitted a CBL deposit slip #0809071 dated December 13, 2022 and a letter from Minister Frank Musa Dean requesting a letter of confirmation for said deposit, dated December 17, 2022.
Accordingly, the court said all of the evidence presented by the Ministry of Justice about the illegal confiscation of said amount are overwhelming, confirmation that the amounts are available and the ministry should have complying with its order by withdrawing it from the CBL and presenting it on June 13, but to no avail.
According to the court, the failure of Acting Minister Nyanti Tuan to comply with its mandate is a disrespect, which is highly contemptuous and undermined the authority and dignity of the court.
“The act of the Ministry of Justice to intentionally ignore the order of this court to bring the amount of US$113,045 on Tuesday, June 13, is an act which belittles and degrades this honorable court as well as embarrass this court in the administration of justice. Such act makes it to appear as though the Ministry of Justice is above the law, which clearly shows that the ministry has no respect for this court,” the court said in its document.
Furthermore, the court said, because the Ministry admitted through documentary evidence that the US$113,045 was available in its bank account and is willing to make said amount available, its failure to bring said amount to the court was delineate and without any legal and factual justification.
Hence, the court has held Cllr. Nyenati Tuan, Acting Minister of Justice, with contempt of court for being outrightly disrespectful to its order.
Because the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean, is out of the country on official duty, the court noted that it was Cllr. Tuan who should have implemented this order, but failed to do so.
Moreover, the Central Bank of Liberia has been named second respondent in the matter on ground that document in the possession of the court indicates the said money is in the bank’s account, and that it needs to as well comply with the court order by withdrawing the amount from the Ministry of Justice National Joint Security Escrow Account.
This means the CBL has become a party of interest to the case because of its role in serving as custodian of the money.
At the same time, the court said, in order for the Ministry of Justice to completely release the money, the CBL must be invited to provide information on the status of said amount in question.
Consequently, the Ministry of Justice has been invited by the court to state reasons why it should not be held in contempt for failing to comply with its order to bring the US$113,045 on June 13, while the CBL has been ordered to appear with said amount placed in the escrow account of the National Joint Security, which the CBL confirmed is in its custody.