The NBC is a governmental entity responsible to monitor and evaluate concessions compliance in Liberia. It was established through an Act by the 53rd National Legislature in September of 2011 and signed into law by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
It can be recalled that on August 2, 2019, President George Manneh Weah suspended two (2) Deputies, including Mr. Gibson, and Nathaniel Bracewell, for alleged administrative misconduct.
According to a leaked communication in the possession of this paper, Coleman was invited to appear before LACC investigators on August 13, 2019 to answer to multiple corruption charges, ranging from alleged payroll padding through the inclusion of employees of other ministries and agencies on the payroll of the NBC.
The communication addressed to the NBC boss and his Deputy under the signature of LACC’s Officer-In-Charge, Charles L. Gibson, III, further pointed out that, the duo were also invited to state reason(s) why they allegedly deducted the salaries of several employees as a result of administrative actions without remitting the deducted amount to the Government of Liberia (GOL) as per the Public Financial Management Law of 2010 and the Civil Service Standing Order of Liberia.
The LACC believes that the alleged action of Coleman and his suspended Deputy also contravenes the National Code of Conduct for public officials, and other legal frameworks instituted by government to ensure good governance, accountability and transparency in the public sector.
“The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) is pleased to present its compliments and informed you of an ongoing investigation into allegations of corruption, financial malpractices, payroll padding, and double emolument in violation of the Public Financial Laws and the National Code of Conduct, including other legal frameworks at the National Bureau of Concessions (NBC). Details revealed that several individuals believed to be employees of other governmental ministries and agencies are allegedly employed and placed on the payroll of the Bureau.
It is further alleged that deductions on the salaries of several employees as a result of administrative actions for the period under review are not remitted to the Government of Liberia, but rather been misapplied,” the LACC stated in the communication.
For the past three (3) months, there have been claims and counter-claims of alleged corruption at the NBC involving its Director-General, Mr. Gregory O. W. Coleman.
Documents in the possession of this paper revealed that ghost names, being identified as Evelyn Barco, who is also an employee of the Liberia National Police (LNP) with batch number 4714, Ralph Sonkarlay, an employee of the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (Libtelco), Sando Kamara and James Banda, amongst others have been placed on the payroll and bank statement of the NBC.
Our investigation uncovered that an inter-office memo dated June 13, 2018 with subject: “Employees’ Salaries Through Checks,” issued by the Human Resource Director of the NBC, Burphy J. K. Herron, and approved by Mr. Coleman, revealed that the salary of Mr. Boima Morgan, Assistant Director General for Research and Planning, was cut from US$3,000 to US$562.
Morgan was being previously paid the amount of US$3,000 through the payroll process system at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, but instead received the amount of US$562 as salary for the month of May 2018.
Reasons for the deduction in the salary of the Assistant NBC Director for Planning and Research remain unknown.
Others affected and listed on the June 13, 2018 internal-office memo included: Mrs. Lydia Nimeley, Ms. Manu Kamara, Patricia Kroma, amongst others.
In another communication dated May 22, 2018 barely a month after he took over the affairs of the NBC, Coleman relieved off his post, Mr. Kalivah Jorgbor, Financial Comptroller of the entity.
Coleman, in the communication issued under his signature, claimed that Jorgbor was relieved off his post due to alleged “financial malpractice in the Finance Department where you served as Comptroller/Head.”
Though a committee, headed by Mr. Allison Barco, Director of Legal Affairs, was mandated to launch an investigation into the matter, findings from the investigation are yet to be made public.
When contacted via telephone calls and SMS, Mr. Gregory O. W. Coleman confirmed that he is being investigated by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) for alleged financial improprieties at the NBC.
“Yes, I did honorably submit to the tool of good governance in honor of the rule of law that I’ve always supported,” Mr. Coleman stated in a text message sent to this writer.
Meanwhile, several employees of the National Bureau of Concessions (NBC) are calling on the under-fire Director General of the NBC to recuse himself from steering the affairs of what they referred to as “institution of integrity responding to monitor and evaluate 16 billion United States dollars foreign-direct investment in Liberia.”
The aggrieved employees, who spoke on condition of anonymity, want President Weah suspend or relieve Coleman off his post, pending the outcome of the ongoing LACC’s “financial malpractices and corruption investigation.”