Cllr. Frances Johnson-Allison, Liberia’s chief anti-graft warrior, has over the years stood hard-hitting in fighting President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s “Public Enemy #1”, but emerging reports suggest that her entity, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), is caught in the web.
The documents reportedly leaked from the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC), another transparency-promoting entity, indicate that the Cllr. Johnson-Allison-led LACC has violated several provisions of the PPCC laws which are equated to corruption.
The LACC says it is preparing its response to the allegation.
After a thorough review of the LACC’s procurement documents for 2012/13, the PPCC stated that the anti-graft entity failed to submit documents for several contract packages which exceeded US$10,000 including petroleum products (US10, 025), Repair and Maintenance (US$12,000), and Foreign Travel—means of travel (US$10,498).
The PPCC informed the LACC that it illegally hired Legal Secretary, Program Assistant for Education & Prevention, Account Assistant/Project, Program Assistant/Administration, and Driver for Legal Expansion Project.
The PPCC probe noted that the hiring of these staff was a violation of Section 72 of the PCC Act. “This is a violation of Section 72 of the PCC Act which states that no procuring entity shall sign a procuring contract or permit a contract to come into force unless the head of the entity has ascertained that the activity has been duly budgeted for by the entity, and has been provided for and approved under the national budget.”
The document furthered that “it is not permissible for Procuring Entities to conduct procurement activities for goods, work or services which are not included in its approved annual procurement plan.”
The LACC is also accused of violating the same section 72 of the PCC when it procured the services of a Legal Attorney for Legal Expansion, dishing out more money as consultancy than the one approved.
The PPCC said it observed that the LACC hired a Legal Attorney for a period of nine months, with a gross monthly consultancy fee of US$3,500, amounting to US$31,500 for the period in question. “This amount exceeds the amount stipulated in your approved procurement plan for legal services which is …US$16,725.”
The PPCC also described the purchase of two HYUNDAI SANTA FE SUV and a NISSAN NAVARA Pickup as a material deviation from its request. The PPCC claimed that vehicles were supplied as requested, but the LACC changed the vehicle provided and took another one through negotiation with the supplier. “This is a violation of Section 64(1) of the PCC Act which states that no negotiation shall take place between the procuring entity and s supplier with respect to a bid submitted by the supplier.”
Still on cars, the PPCC observed that City Car Rentals offered a Toyota Hilux double cabin pickup at the cost of US$32,400.00 to the LACC but was not selected since, according to the Bid Evaluation Panel report, the supplier, City Car Rentals, did not provide ‘no after sale’ service, and that the cost of accessories when added would surpass that of another vehicle.
However, the documented added that City Car Rentals indicated in its submission that it would provide the vehicle with a warranty of three years and with spare parts for a period of one year. The Bid Panel report also mentioned that the City Car Rentals was not selected because it mentioned that delivery would be in twenty-one days, and that the LACC required immediate delivery. But it was discovered that the pickup selected at the cost of US$35,000.00 was delivered in 2013 more the 21 days after the bid evaluation report was submitted, something the PPCC described as a violation of Section 131(1a) of the PCC Act which states that procuring entities must discharge their duties impartially so as to ensure fair and competitive access to public procurement by dodders.
On the purchase of the 2013 Nissan Patrol SE which the LACC Boss currently rides, the PPCC stated that Section 57 (1) of the PCC Act was violated when the LACC opened bids two days after the deadline instead of the date of the deadline of submission of bids.
Among several other concern and procedural lapses, the PPCC observed that there was no advertisement conducted for the 2013 Nissan Patrol SE, and that the LACC subjectively obtained a quotation from Africa Motors fir said vehicle. “The quotation for the 2013 Nissan Patrol SE which cost…US$63,000 as dated October 10, 2012 which is almost four weeks after the deadline for submission of bids. This is a violation of Section 59 (1) of the PCC Act which states that bids received after the deadline for submission of bids shall be returned unopened.”
The LACC has yet to comment on this report, despite efforts. Its Public Relation Officer Ben Kolako, when contacted yesterday, told this paper would get back later. When he later called, he said the LAC was preparing a response. “All I can say now is that the LACC is preparing its response and we will get you.”
The LACC investigation has indicted several public officials and entities in the last three years with the Commission frowning on the government’s resolve to prosecute those involved, but this alleged violation of the PPCC law by the anti-graft commission has raised eyebrows.
It its review of Assets declared by government officials in May, the LACC accused Madam Matilda Parker, Managing Director of the NPA of embarking on a campaign of “misrepresentation” as it relates to her assets “from the beginning of the process to the end of the process”.
The report indicated that Madam Parker purchased a house in the Sophie Community for US$65,000. However, when the LACC’s Asset Declaration (AD) Verification Team asked about the means of payment, Madam Parker said “cash down payment” was made.
But, however, after the Team expressed surprise over a US$65,000 cash down payment, Madam Parker later changed the story and said she made the purchase “in installments” but failed to present receipts of installment payments.
The LACC furthered indicated that Madam Parker later wrote them (LACC) that the receipts were missing. The AD Verification Team asserted categorically, that both of the above statements cannot be true at the same time: ‘Cash down payment of US$65,000 verse installment payment of US$65,000.’
The LACC stated that “One of the two assertions is definitely false and Ms Parker knows exactly which one is false.”
The report further indicated Madam Parker disclosed the name of the seller of the aforementioned Sophie Community Property, but failed to disclose the contact details (telephone, residential address and/or other means of contact) of the seller.
According to the report, the act by Madam Parker is “clearly intentional and material misrepresentation” and she must be held to account.
The report also disclosed that Madam Parker put the cost of her USA house at US$750,000 (2012) on her declaration. When asked for documents on the mortgage, the house was discovered to be valued only US$300,000 (2012)
“When asked to explain the gross disparity, Ms Parker said it was an error,” the LACC Asset Declaration Verification report released last week noted. The LACC Team said it wonders how a US$300,000 house can be erroneously valued at US$750,000.
They added that Madam Parker’s multiple misrepresentations [while under oath] left the Team with no other option but to find intentional and material misrepresentation of the facts.
On the other hand, the fourth Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative for Liberia has stated that the NPA and the APM Terminals received the total payments of US$748,922.48 and US$497,311.80 respectively from a number of companies for which flag receipt were not issued.
Many are describing the LACC’s alleged flout of the PPCC law as a blow to the war on corruption. “This is actually interesting, to see the corruption fighter caught in the corruption web,” pointed out Gayflor Kollie, a resident of Johnson Street.
President Sirleaf took to state power and vowed to fight and defeat corruption, but despite the many efforts and strategies deployed, corruption has stood firm, with the latest Transparency Report declaring the country as being massively corrupt.