Liberian Panel Wants Ex-President Sirleaf's Son Prosecuted

(Bloomberg) -- A son of former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and other public officials should be prosecuted for “economic sabotage and misuse of public money” after authorizing $500,000 in irregular payments.

After signing a revenue-sharing contract with Exxon Mobil, Robert Sirleaf, who was then chairman of the state-owned National Oil Co. of Liberia, and other directors signed a resolution claiming ex-president Sirleaf authorized a $500,000 bonus for officials who worked on the deal, according to a report presented to the West African nation’s House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Board members who authorized the payment must give back the money within 30 days or be charged and prosecuted for misuse of public money, according to the report by a committee appointed by incumbent President George Weah on April 17 to investigate the matter.

“In addition to restituting the amount all the members of the board of directors of Nocal during the period should be barred from ever serving on the board of any public corporation in the republic of Liberia,” according to the report.

The committee was formed to investigate accusations by advocacy group Global Witness that several state officials received irregular payments after granting Exxon Mobil an offshore oil concession. Fifteen other officials received an additional $365,000 for the deal.

Through her lawyers, former President Sirleaf denied authorizing the payments, according to the report. Robert Sirleaf and other officials have denied any wrong doing and said they were entitled to the bonus. Lawmakers voted Tuesday to implement the report.

“We remain proud of the work we did for our country by ensuring that it benefited from $50 million as a result of that transaction,” former Finance Minister Amara Konneh said.

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