The ruling coalition, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), has approved two government officials who were indicted for corruption by the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to run on the party’s ticket in the upcoming October 10 elections.
Nathaniel McGill, Bill Twehway, and Sayma Syrenius Cephus were sanctioned by the US Treasury Department on August 15, 2022, but of the three, two names have appeared on the National Election Commission provisional list.
If approved by the National Election Commission’s final candidate list, McGill and Twehway will run on the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) ticket as the party’s candidates in Margibi and Rivercess Counties, respectively.
Screenshot highlighting the name of McGill, the party he is contesting and the county as well.
Screenshot Twehway’s name on NEC Listing.
A case study of the government’s reactions To Corruption, Samukai and Other
The Liberian government took a firm stance against J. Brownie Samukai Jr., former Minister of Defense, Johnson P. Johnson, Deputy Minister for Administration, and J. Nyumah Dorkor for conspiring to commit a crime of theft of property by using the AFL Pension fund in flagrant violation of 4 LCLR, Title 26, Section 15.51 (a); and 4 LCLR, Title 26, Section 2.2 (a) and (b); and 4 LCLR, Title 26, Section 1
Upon the indictment of Samukai and others by the court, the government celebrated that the case was a fight against corruption in Liberia.
Fast forward, Samukai was elected on the ticket of opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), he received the most votes in the December 8, 2020, senatorial election.
Out of the 11 candidates who vied for the Lofa County senatorial seat, Samukai received 20,431 votes, but he was never certificated, nor was he inducted into office because he was one of the indictees for corruption.
What are the Sanctions Implications?
When the OFAC designated the three government officials and laid down what was known as “Sanctions Implications,” they were clear on what happens to those who deal with any business with the three.
The US OFAC sanction implications stated, among other things, that as a result of their action on August 15, 2022, all property and interests in property of those targets in the United States or the possession or control of US persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC.
Furthermore, it stated that any entities owned, directly or indirectly, by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.
OFAC regulations generally prohibit all transactions involving any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons by US persons or within the US (including transactions transiting the US).
The section of the OFAC regulations that could embarrass the National Election Commission and the CDC is the one that says, “In addition, persons who engage in certain transactions with the individuals and entities designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions or subject to an enforcement action.”
With the OFAC warning, President George M. Weah’s CDC has turned a blind eye to the US warning and given the go-ahead to the two former government officials who have been designated by the US for corruption.
McGill has been openly preparing for his senatorial campaign in Margibi County since the sanction.
He was recently seen in the county dancing to the tone of a song sung by Jonathan Koffa, stage name, Takun-J, that says, “My way.”What was the purpose of Designating the former officials?
According to the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, McGill, former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Chief of Staff to President Weah, bribed business owners, accepted bribes from potential investors, and accepted kickbacks for steering contracts to companies in which he had an interest during his tenure in government.
McGill also manipulated public procurement processes to award multi-million-dollar contracts to companies in which he has ownership, according to the report, including by abusing emergency procurement processes to rig contract bids.
According to the State Department report, McGill was credibly accused of participating in a variety of other corrupt schemes, including soliciting bribes from government office seekers and misappropriating government assets for personal gain.
“He has used government funds allocated to other Liberian government institutions to run his projects, made off-the-books cash payments to senior government leaders, and organized warlords to threaten political rivals,” according to a few of the reasons former Minister McGill was designated.
Twehway, the former Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA), who is also running for senator in Rivercess County, orchestrated the transfer of $1.5 million in vessel storage fees from the port to a private account.
It was claimed that Twehway secretly formed a private company, to which he later unilaterally awarded a contract for loading and unloading cargo at the Port of Buchanan using his position at the NPA. The company received the contract less than a month after its inception.
He and others allegedly used family members to conceal their involvement in the company while still profiting financially from it.
According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, “Twehway is being designated for being a foreign national who is currently serving in government and who is accountable for, complicit in, or has engaged directly or indirectly in corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private property for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery,” The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said.
With the OFAC allegations, the two former government officials linked to corruption may have a better financial standing to gain the votes of underprivileged Liberians, who may sell their votes to make ends meet.