In the wake of President George Manneh Weah mandating his Foreign Minister Dee-Maxwell Kemayah to immediately investigate circumstances leading to the issuance of a Liberian diplomatic passport to businessman Sheik Bassirou Kante who was recently arrested in the U.S. for money laundering and wire fraud amounting to US$7m, credible information in the hands of The Analyst show that Foreign Ministry Authorities might have been in the dark about the passport issuance, as excerpts from unpublished investigation observations point to a carefully crafted falsification expedition undertaken solely by Bassirou Kante to carry out his illegal activities.
Bassirou Diplomatic Passport Observed as fake
Against the backdrop of President Weah’s mandate, and his Vice President coming out to publicly deny any knowledge of how Mr. Bassirou Kante got hold of a Liberian diplomatic passport after US investigations linked Madam Jewel Howard-Taylor with Bassirou, credible sources have intimated to this paper that the passport which was found during a siege of Mr. Kante’s residence is completely fake, and could not have been issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Accordingly, the passport number DP0000729 reflected on Bassirou Kante’s seized passport could not have been issued August of 2020 because all Diplomatic passports that are assigned sequentially and issued at that time were no longer in the hundred series but were in the thousand series already.
This paper also gathered that the Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) in the questioned passport is unclear, unreadable and doesn’t match the standard MRZ travel document. Moreover, the character limit for the Profession/occupation exceeds the standard limit that the system accepts.
In accordance with a myriad of variations observed between the Bassirou diplomatic passport and those officially issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, our source intimated that Bassirou Kante falsified his passport. Whether the falsification was clandestinely sanctioned by Foreign Ministry authorities is another case altogether.
Interestingly, Bassirou Kante has “Chief of Staff, Office of the Representative District 14” listed in his diplomatic passport, but Montserrado County District 14 Representative Varmuyan Konneh has since denied ever knowing Bassirou, least to say granting him permission to obtain a diplomatic passport.
Montserrado County Senator, Abraham Darius Dillon had on Tuesday May 10, 2022, via his social media post accused Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of presiding over the issuance of Bassirou’s diplomatic passport, implying that there was a collusion between Bassirou and authorities at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Prior to the latest information that point to the fakeness of the passport, Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon through his social media post said, “It is also important to note that when the Diplomatic Passport in question was issued, Henry B. Fahnbulleh was Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs. Maxwell Kemayah was not Minister by then”.
Senator Dillon’s comments come in the wake of President Weah ordering his Foreign Minister to immediately investigate the Bassirou Kante diplomatic passport scandal, which many have come to believe could implicate higher ups in the Weah administration because of Bassirou’s affinity with the current powers that be.
President Weah’s mandate specifically ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to immediately stop the issuance of diplomatic passports to anyone unless otherwise authorized by him.
“The Liberian Chief Executive also directed Minister Kemeya to submit a full report detailing a review of how Liberian diplomatic passports are issued. The report by the Foreign Minister is to be submitted within one week of the date of the President’s May 10, 2022 directive,” the presidential release stated.