Editorial: Commending The LACC For The Bold Stand Against Corruption

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THE MINISTER OF Agriculture, Jeanine Cooper, has become a staggering case of alleged corruption at the Ministry of Agriculture. On Friday, June 17, 2022, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) made public its findings of corruption investigation at the ministry at an elaborate press conference, held at its headquarters in Congo Town.

THE EXECUTIVE CHAIRPERSON of the LACC, Cllr. Edward Kla Martin, who read the findings, said after its investigation the LACC found out that in the Agriculture Ministry’s contract with FABRAR Minister Jeannie M. Cooper, in the discharge of her duties as Minister of Agriculture, knowingly awarded a contract valued at US$180,000 for the supply of 200 metric tons of 25kg bags of rice to FABRAR Liberia, Inc., a company that she is the beneficial owner.

THE LACC INVESTIGATION also indicted Minister Cooper for illegally relieving Raymond Ogunti as Director of the PMU/MOA (who had an existing two-year valid contract) without justifiable reason, and taking a unilateral decision of replacing him with Ansu Konneh against the expressed advise of the donor partners (World Bank, African Development Bank and IFAD). She was also held liable for unilaterally awarding a contract to one of her relatives, Zubin Cooper, as Consultant on the National Agriculture Fair (NAF) Program.

FURTHER, THE LACC report said, Minister Cooper knowingly provided false and misleading information to the investigation that a second account opened at the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) was as a result of the first account, opened at Ecobank, being inconsistent with the PFM Law by not referring to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), but knowing that her actual reason for taking such decision was to get rid of the names of Precious Tetteh, Deputy Minister for Administration/MOA, and H. Nyounkpao Funnebo, Comptroller/MOA, as signatories and replacing them with names of her choice.

THE LACC ALSO indicted Minister Jeanine Cooper and Bob Fassa, in the discharge of their duties as Minister of Agriculture and Project Accountant/KOAFEC-MOA, for knowingly and willfully paying US$18,000 (US$2,000 + US$16,000) to Curtis Jackson and Asatu Shannon under the pretext of services provided by them, but failing to provide any evidence of performance to account for or justify the expenditure of the amounts.

AMIDST THESE VERY serious allegations, the Liberia Anticorruption Commission (LACC) has submitted all the reports to the Ministry of Justice with hundreds of exhibits containing evidence that are sufficient for indictment and a subsequent prosecution of Minister Cooper and several other individuals.

THE COMMISSION, IN a statement Monday, said the reports on the Ministry of Agriculture, Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-information Services, Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation and Planned Parenthood Association of Liberia are now before the Ministry of Justice, in keeping with section 11.1&2 of the August 2008 Act creating the Liberia Anti-corruption Commission (LACC).WE COMMEND THE LACC for this bold stand against corruption and call on the Ministry of Justice to speed up the process of bringing the accused to justice. 

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