Since the formation of Liberia’s republican governance system, public service has largely been regarded by most Liberians as shortcut to prosperity. When an official leaves public life without owning huge properties and colossal bank accounts, he’s regarded a stupid person. This quick-wealth mentality of Liberians toward public service not only sustains the culture of loot, plunder and thievery by a few persons but also leaves a majority of citizens in squalor and underpins the country’s political and social upheavals. To tackle these consequential effects of corruption in the public service, the postwar government of Liberia has made it nearly obligatory for all officials to declare their assets before accession to public office—something scores of them have already done. But a probe of the declarations unveils something startling: many officials failed to comply, some provided half-baked information, and even though others complied honestly. The Analyst looks at a report published this week by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission.
The LACC says out of the 63 officials of Government from 7 ministries, agencies and public corporations who had declaresod their assets to the Commission, it has booked several persons for misrepresentations and unexplained wealth accumulation while others could not be verified for various reasons and some officials failed to cooperate. The Commission also announced that it could not complete the verification of assets of some officials.
In a report published in Monrovia, the LACC sais while its verification exercise portends tremendous opportunities for success in the fight against corruption, there were difficulties due to the unscrupulous behaviors of some officials in the asset declaration process.
The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) is the cardinal Government of Liberia (GoL) Agency charged with the responsibility of investigating and prosecuting acts of corruption and breach of public trust with respect to economic crimes.
The LACC is also responsible for leading Liberia’s anti-corruption strategy, of which assets declaration (AD) and verification are an integral part. This authority comes from the LACC Act of 2008 (Part V, section 5.1 -5.2).
Additionally, the LACC has been mandated by the President of Liberia to be the sole agency charged with the responsibility of collecting, storing and otherwise administering the process of GOL officials’ asset declaration.
In the last few months, the LACC carried out the verification of assets of government officials. According to the LACC, the exercise was intended to fully vet, verify and certify as truthful or otherwise the asset declarations or AD of at least 60 officials over the period March to May 2013; to ascertain whether assets declared by public officials commensurate with their past and current sources of income; and to to identify the prevalence of illicit wealth accumulation as a way of understanding the scale of the problem of corruption in the society.
The exercise covered officials managing big-spending GoL ministries/agencies and public corporations, officials managing top-revenue-generating ministries and agencies and officials from ministries and agencies ranking high on the LACC’s corruption perception index.
The LACC reported that there were officials who deliberately decided not to cooperate with the LACC Team notwithstanding LACC’s multiple notices to these individuals to appear; officials who sent in written excuses based on individual peculiar circumstances; officials whose AD process could not be completed within the timeframe, due to outstanding issues still unresolved as at the time of report.