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Snowe Offers US$5m Bribe to Ellen?

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Snowe Offers US$5m Bribe to Ellen?

The internal wrangling between the two branches of government; the Legislative and Executive, appears to be revealing secret deals within the oil sector and that of the 2011 elections, with allegations of attempted bribery and inducement of campaigns with foreign cash.

One of such secrets which has come up is the allegation of an attempted bribery by District #6 Representative Edwin Snowe in an amount of US5 million allegedly on behalf of Gazprom, a Russian Oil Company he had fronted for with interest in oil block 13, at the time to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf while on a 2011 campaign trail in Lofa.

Rep. Snowe told this paper Thursday that it is true he was in Lofa with the President at the time but rubbished the issue of the US$5million bribe offer.

"This issue of the US$5 million has been around for some time. It started when the Legislature began investigation into the oil contracts," Snowe said. Presidential Press Secretary Jerolinmick Piah, also contacted on Thursday, declined to comment on the issue.

But information gathered by this paper revealed that Rep. Snowe, a staunch supporter of the President met her in Lofa and made the alleged offer, while indicating that the wealthy donors were willing to meet with her to discuss business issues.

The President, this paper furthered gathered, instructed Rep. Snowe to return the US$5 million gift and that she was not prepared to meet with them.

But Snowe, who rubbished the news, said this story has been around for a while now and that it started when he and his colleagues began probing into the contracts signed by the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL). This development has resurfaced days after Rep. Snowe admitted being approached by Gazprom to explore the possibility of investing in the local oil sector.

Snowe: "In May of 2011, I was approached by Gazprom (a giant Russian Oil and Gas Company) to explore the possibility of investing in the Liberian Oil and Gas Sector with specific reference to Block 13. Gazprom was one of the two preferred bidders recommended by Peppercoast, the owner of Block 13 on a mandated sale of the block by then CEO of NOCAL, Mr. Christopher Neyor.

Gazprom had made an offer of $100 million for the block where the Government of Liberia take would have been $27 million and $15 million to NOCAL as transaction fee but while it was obvious that Canadian Overseas Petroleum Limited (COPL) did not meet the three qualification criteria set by NOCAL, and Gazprom did, NOCAL delayed any approval as requested and required under the Peppercoast Petroleum Sharing Agreement.

This was when Gazprom approached me to find out what was going on. Gazprom, which is also a major power producer, also offered to come in with expanded electricity for Monrovia within just few months.

I immediately proceeded to President Sirleaf and informed her about the request made to me by Gazprom. President Sirleaf in response, amongst other things, informed me that because of the location of block 13, being situated between blocks 12 and 14, which are owned by Chevron, a US company, it was impossible to have a Russian company situated between the two blocks.

After months of discussions, the President along with her Senior Advisor, Mr. Robert A. Sirleaf, who happens to be her son, agreed to meet with Gazprom. Thereafter, an invitation was extended to Gazprom to visit Liberia. The Chief Executive Officer of Gazprom flew to Liberia and a meeting was held at the residence of the President, notably in the absence of the then President/CEO of NOCAL, Mr. Christopher Neyor.

Upon our arrival at the residence of the President, we were met by Mr. Robert A. Sirleaf, who immediately proceeded with the guest into the residence of the President for closed door discussions while I was ushered a seat outside in the palava hut. That was when I realized that the Oil and Gas Sector of Liberia was at threat of being a family affair. I felt humiliated and was deeply saddened."


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