Money deal chokes lawmaker
A Montserrado County Representative has been choked by money as he fights back admitting that he grossly violated the Public Procurement Concession Commission or PPCC law for expediency.
Montserrdo Electoral District #15 Representative Adolph Lawrence told a news conference in Monrovia last weekend that he did not adhere to the PPCC law because the House of Representatives did not have sufficient time to put out a bid for the consultancy contract.
Rep. Lawrence was last week indicted by the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission or LACC for violating the PPCC law and tempering with funds intended for government revenues.
He told reporters in the conference room of Speaker Alex Tyler at the Capitol that the House decided to contract the services of three consultants - two Liberians and a Ghanaian, to advise and draft two oil legislative bills, saying the cost of the consultancy for each of the two Liberian was US$25,000 and the Ghanaian US$75,000.
He noted that since it was the policy of the Government of Liberia for services to be rendered before payment, the provision in the contracts required 50 per cent payment upon signing, followed by the commencement of the contract due to its immediate need.
“Knowing the importance of the exercise, I requested Speaker Tyler to advance the amounts required as initial payments to the consultants with the clear understanding that upon payment by the government, he (Ghanaian consultant) would be reimbursed. Consequently, the two Liberian and Ghanaian consultants were paid 50% in keeping with the terms of the contracts,” explained Lawrence, further noting: “Mr. Nkrumah Michael Allison- the Ghanaian consultant, received US$12,500 representing 50 per cent of his contract value; the other consultants were also paid 50 per cent of their contract values.”
According to him, following several months of work followed by the presentation of the draft law to the House of Representatives by the consultants, the government was requested to pay them- Mr. Allison was informed that his payment was ready.
“Mr. Allison informed us that he was out of the country, but that he would instruct his professional assistant to take delivery of the check, which was issued in his name. This was a clear admission by Mr. Allison that he knew that Speaker Tyler had made the initial advance payment to him; I should note that the government had to make tax deductions from these payments. When Mr. Allison was told about the tax deduction from his balance payment, he raised the contention that this was not part of his contract,” he said.
Rep. Lawrence further explained that Mr. Allison refused to pay the ten per cent tax on grounds that it was not part of the his contract, and based on that, Speaker Tyler accepted that Mr. Allison should only pay US$10,000 owed him and that issue of the taxes would be transmitted to the authorities of the Finance Ministry. Rep. Lawrence further stated that he and Allison agreed to go to the bank together to cash the check.
“The check, which was written in his name, was endorsed and cashed by him at the Ecobank Annex on Ashmun Street, while he, thereafter, gave me US$10,000- the balance after tax deduction; the balance US$12,500 was taken by him.
At this point, agents of the LACC arrived on the scene and informed me that LACC was investigating the ‘just cashed’ check, and that they needed my presence at their offices to make a statement. At LACC, I was advised by its chairman to turn over the money to them and return the next day to make a statement,” he said.
The lawmaker, whose wife is also Senator of Grand Bassa County, indicated that he complied with the demand in view of his peaceful, none confrontational and law-abiding nature. According to him, he did inform the commission that he would he travelling the next day.
According to him, the US$12,500 advanced payment received by Mr. Allison was neither owned by the House of Representatives nor was from the National Oil Company of Liberia or NOCAL and categorically stated that it did not belong to the government, instead it was personal cash advancement from Speaker Tyler.
Meanwhile, Rep. Lawrence said he has requested his attorneys to pursue redress through the court to establish his innocence in any wrong-doing, to establish that LACC acted outside of its functions and power.