In April, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf suspended Matilda Parker and her comptroller, Christina K. Paelay, based on the findings of an LACC probe and directed the Ministry of Justice to collaborate with the LACC, and all accused persons associated with this investigation, in order to inform additional actions, should they be required. Just days after the President took the decision, FrontPageAfrica obtained a copy of the findings which was debunked by Cllr. Verdier.
Verdier, while addressing a Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) regular news briefing disowned the report in which the NPA officials are accused of engaging in fraudulent contract activities while at the same admitting that the LACC is still investigating the NPA boss. Cllr. Verdier in his disclaimer said the report published by FPA was not done by the LACC, but again said the entity is investigating how the report leaked to the press.
Said Cllr. Verdier: “Let me say here also regarding the NPA report, the LACC has not released to the press any report on the NPA. Whatever you saw in the FrontPageAfrica is not LACC report, right now we are conducting an investigation as how they got that report and they published it that is not the LACC report”, said Cllr. Verdier. FrontPageAfrica Editor Rodney Sieh, in a letter to readers published in both online and print editions said the LACC boss summoned him to a meeting in a bid to inquire how he obtained the report but he refused to reveal his sources.
At the time, FrontPageAfrica publisher Rodney D. Sieh said he was surprised the LACC chair was more concerned about finding out how the report was leaked and explained that the LACC chair never once questioned the authenticity of the report during the meeting at the LACC. The LACC chairperson statement disclaiming the report published in FPA; while at the same time disclosing that there is an ongoing investigation on how the report leaked, has been viewed by many as a major contradiction with some arguing why the LACC chair will announce investigation into how a report leaked when he had already said such report is not the work of the commission.
Verdier on the same day appearing on the Bumper Show on state radio, LBS recanted his statement to say that the report published by FrontPageAfrica was actually an unreleased version of the LACC probe. But Cllr. Verdier did not stop there. FrontPageAfrica has now learned that in the aftermath of the report’s release and Verdier’s flip flop on the issue, the LACC boss approved an internal investigation which led to search of computers of employees in various departments and interrogation of staffers who were asked if they had any friends, relatives or colleagues working at FrontPageAfrica.
The outcome of the investigation was kept secret even after internal staff who was interrogated requested a report. It is unclear why the findings of the report have not been made public. ”Only Mr. Verdier knows especially when US$6,000-US$7,000.00 of taxpayers’ money was used for such bogus purpose,” said a staffer speaking on condition of anonymity.
Verdier’s running of the LACC has led to many there raising concern about the credibility of the anti-graft body. “I think Mr. Verdier is so obsessed with the job that he sees himself as owner of that government institution. And since all the others were somehow recommended by him, whatever he says goes. That's how it is at the friends of JNV commission,” the source noted.
The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) was established in 2008 by an Act of the National Legislature with a broad mandate and functions to implement appropriate measures and undertake programs geared toward investigating, prosecuting and preventing acts of corruption, including educating the public about the ills of corruption and the benefits of its eradication.