…calls for forensic auditSeveral employees of the Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD) of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure have dispatched a letter to the President and copied the Prime Minister calling for a forensic audit of the department and for a senior manager to be sent on leave during the audit.The letter to both President David Granger and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo revealed that there is a mass of corrupt practices and favouritism occurring within the department. The letter indicated that persons, who are friends of a senior manager, are being promoted without the necessary qualification and experience.“Only staff within that circle is being promoted…,” it read, highlighting that the senior officer has hired several family to work in the department. The letter outlined that the officer in question has been “finding and creating” jobs for family and friends.It noted that an Officer in Charge within the department was removed by the previous subject minister for corrupt practices, however the officer was reinstated by the very same senior officer.The employees in the letter revealed that priority passes are being sold by senior managers. Priority pass is for government officials, members of the Diplomatic Corp, and senior officers of the Joint Services.“What has been happening is that Tom, Dick and Harry are coming for pass and paying between $10,000 to $25,000 for one pass,” the letter stated.The employees also allege that monies are being deducted from salaries and are not paid over to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS). It is only after they visit NIS to query about benefits, that they are told that, for months, the department has not paid any contributions on their behalf.“Same is being done for credit union deductions. All this can be considered as fraud being committed by the T&HD and should be stopped,” the letter urged.In addition, the concerned employees related that customers shipping goods to the North West District (NWD) are also being harassed by staff.“They are told that if they want the goods to go on the boat they have to pay. Customers suffer a lot through theft when the boat reaches North West. Goods are missing,” the missive read.“The fuel and drugs are big businesses,” the letter went on, adding that drugs are being shipped on the boat to the NWD. “Customers and sailors of the boat are in collusion. The sailors and the captain keep the drugs in the cabin. We want to see the Police and CANU come and search the boat before it sail every time. Drugs will be found. With the fuel: illegal fuel comes from the North West District on the boat in seven and five gallons containers and hidden away in the cabins.”When contacted Friday for a comment, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson said that he is unaware of any such letter. He said too that if there were any instances of corruption occurring within the department he would have been notified.“I’m not aware of anything of that sort. I haven’t seen the letter but I will assure you if anything came to the ministry it would have been investigated but we haven’t received any information,” he said.In the letter, the employees maintained that T&HD management are indeed aware of the wrongdoings.“Management is aware of a lot of things but playing blind, deaf and dumb on them because we know they are part of the wrongdoings that are taking place at the department.”“It is time for the government to act. It is the tax payers’ monies running the T&HD. The department does not make monies; it is not a profit making department. It depends on money from the government to keep it afloat and that money is the tax payers’ money,” the letter said, adding that the senior manager and cohorts should be sent on leave pending a forensic audit into the department.The concerned employees called on the President and the ministers “to help save T&HD now” as many “wrong things are taking place”. They maintain that the department has now become “a money making organisation” for some.
The long-standing controversy over who is the legitimate holder of the trademark (brand name) to import POP Drink Juice on the Liberian Market has ended. In keeping with the Industrial Property Law of the country, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI), has granted BAF Trading Corporation, a Liberian-owned Business, the rights to be the sole importer of the POP beverages.In a letter addressed to BIVAC-Liberia dated October 31, 2014, Commerce Minister Axel Addy temporarily suspended the importation of POP Drink on the Liberian market due to a controversy that existed between a Lebanese business, H.K. Enterprise, Inc., and a Liberian business, BAF Trading Corporation over POP Drinks Trademark Rights.According to Minister Addy’s communication, effective January 1, 2015, BAF Trading Corporation, the original holder of the trademark has been authorized to commence importation of the product into the country.BAFTC applied to the Liberia Industrial Property Office (LIPO) for trademark rights to import POP Drink to the market and its request was granted by LIPO, thus giving BAF legal authority in accordance with the Industrial Property Law for a period of 10 years.Three years after giving BAF the legal rights over the trademark, LIPO awarded similar rights to a Lebanese company, H.K. Enterprise located at Red-light for a period of one year.The reported double TM rights sparked a serious controversy, “because the right given to H.K. Enterprise had no legal ground and or basis in keeping with the law controlling.”The controversy prompted a whistleblower to write an official complaint to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) requesting the Commission to investigate the circumstances that led to the manner in which BAF Trading Corporation was allegedly arm twisted and their right to the trademark revoked and unlawfully given to H.K. Enterprise.In the mind of the whistleblower, the process was marred by “corruption” and needed to be flagged.However, the latest intervention by the Minister of Commerce to restore the right of BAF Trading Corporation as the holder of the trademark, has signaled the Ministry’s respect for the rule of law, and by extension, has created a safe and conducive environment for doing business in Liberia especially at a time Liberians are actively venturing into business activities that will eventually enhance their capacity to take hold of and control the economy.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)