New allegations of corruption by former transition government

Liberia’s Anti-Corruption Task Force claims to have uncovered alleged fraud worth nearly US $1 million at the Ministry of Finance under the former power-sharing transitional government.

In a letter to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the task force called for a full-scale investigation after discovering several fraudulent vouchers on foreign travel and goods and services that were never supplied to the finance ministry. Former and current employees of the ministry were linked to the scandal.

The task force is an independent group of economists and security investigators that was formed during Liberia’s transitional period.

Additional allegations of corruption have also surfaced. The General Auditing Bureau has released a report stating that the former transitional government spent more than US $11 million for public service vehicles but that 132 of the 552 vehicles purchased could not be traced.

“Some of the purported vendors do not exist because we could not locate their places of business,” the report said.

Prior to its dissolution, the former transitional parliament passed a law enabling the new administration to carry out a financial audit of the transitional government. Graft has long been a problem in Liberia and helped trigger civil war in 1989. The fighting ended 14 years later.

Sirleaf has made rooting out corruption a top priority of her government. In May, the government released a financial report of the first three months of its administration revealing a dramatic increase in revenue generation and collection. It was the first such report issued by a Liberian government for more than 20 years.

Concerns about corruption in government prompted Liberia's international partners and donors in September to draw up an anti-graft plan known as the Governance Economic Management Assistance Programme (GEMAP).

Sirleaf has thrown her support behind GEMAP under which international supervisors will monitor key ministries and lucrative concerns such as the port, airport, customs office and forestry commission as well all state expenditure for the next three years.

AK/CS/CCR