US$500,000 Kills ArcelorMittal Deal?


High Power Exploration (HPX), a mining company based in Guinea with vested interest in doing business in Liberia, has been struggling to deny a cash receipt under its umbrella organization, Ivanhoe Liberia, signed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dr. Bhofal Chambers, after giving a whopping US$500,000 (five hundred thousand United States dollars) to some representatives for legislative engagement activities.

   Since the cash receipt surfaced, it is being rumored that this was the reason the Lower House returned the ArcelorMittal deal to the Executive.

Reported cash receipt of US$500,000 transaction between Speaker Bhofal Chambers and Ivanhoe Liberia, umbrella organization of HPX

   On March 29, 2022, apparently after receiving the bribe on March 25, 2022, the House of Representatives went into an emergency session and took the decision to return the AML deal.

   However, HPX has categorized the bribery allegation as false, describing the “cash receipt” as fake, and noting that they operate globally to the highest ethical standards and in full compliance with all legal requirements.

   Speaking to a number of lawmakers about the matter, the Hot Pepper gathered that many lawmakers do not know about the money, but accused the close circle of Speaker Chambers, whom they claimed are the only ones who benefitted from the kickback.

   According to information, the “big four”, who are very close to the Speaker, are aware of the Speaker receiving US$200,000 (two hundred thousand United States dollars) from HPX, and not US$500,000. But when the receipt surfaced, with the signature of the Speaker, which many lawmakers have confirmed to be his legitimate signature, the “big four” became furious and appeared disgruntle with the Speaker for allegedly siphoning more than half of the amount and showing them only US$200k which, according to information, was shared among them, with the Speaker also receiving a portion of that amount, in addition to the amount he silently took away.

   The Hot Pepper is being hinted that there is a conspiracy being hatched against the Speaker to make him account for the money he allegedly siphoned or stand to be betrayed.

   When sources contacted the Speaker, he denied ever receiving a kickback from HPX. Speaking to newsmen over the weekend, the Spokesperson of Speaker Chambers’ office, George Watkins, said the Speaker has challenged it and wants those who are saying he signed to come forth with clear evidence. He however confirmed that the signature was Speaker Chambers’.

   Observers are saying that corruption is not a new thing at the Capitol, expressing empathy for ArcelorMittal for being the victim of the bad situation.

   ArcelorMittal Liberia has maintained that it will not get involved in any corruption scandal to get its agreement amended, and that if that is the only way out they are prepared to seek redress from the Supreme Court or pull out of Liberia.

   The National Legislature stands accused of requesting US$30 million from ArcelorMittal in order to get the deal swiftly ratified. According to information, the money is intended to bankroll the campaign of certain government officials in the upcoming 2023 general and presidential election. Sadly, AML has refused to play to their tune; therefore, they are allegedly seeking other alternatives.

   A certain lawmaker, who spoke to the Hot Pepper on the basis of anonymity, said it appears like the transparency gospel preached by Representative Chambers during the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration was nothing but a fake gospel, intended to get him to where he is now to continue the “business as usual” at Capitol Hill.

   Meanwhile, the Hot Pepper has learned that ArcelorMittal has reported the matter to a number of international partners, including the United States government, and anticipates taking greater action if it cannot get an amicable solution to the matter.

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