Concerns Mount Over McGill Sanction -Pundits’ Investigations Point to ‘Mistaken Conclusions’

MONROVIA – On August 15, 2022, the United States Department of the Treasury announced sanctions against President Weah’s former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel Falo McGill, and two other top officials of the Weah Government for corruption and abuse of public trust. A couple of wild allegations were levied against them, leaving the public to wonder what the specific empirical basis for the action would be. This is giving clues to economic and political commentators to believe that, Mr. McGill, the designated former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and a noted champion of Government’s rural outreach scholarship and development projects, might have been a victim of mistaken identity or strayed targeting by the US Government “due to wrongful information from detractors”. The Analyst reports.

Massive public concerns have been mounting from across the country as to why Mr. Nathaniel Farlo McGill was designated and placed under sanctions by the United States Treasury Department.

Independent sources in government say they are guided by the information relating to reasons the sanctions were imposed; and after cross checking the facts available, especially allegations that triggered the action of the US government, and the statutory role of a Minister of State for Presidential Affairs in Liberia should play, they have come to the conclusion that there is no way Mr. McGill would have played any part related to the allegations.

According to the commentators, who begged not to be named in printed due to the sensitivity of the issue, there was no need to such a sweeping indictment against him.

“In Liberia, there are three government institutions that are mainly involved in processing or presiding over contract and concession negotiations: they are namely the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC), and the Ministries of Finance and Development Planning and Justice,” an inside source hinted.

“The Ministries of Finance and Development Planning and Justice are two signatories to any contract or concession based on a threshold under our laws. Interestingly, these institutions are independent of the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, which Mr. McGill headed.”

In the opinion of the source, in view of the aforesaid, Mr. McGill did not have supervisory role over these entities and therefore could not sign and influence any contract.

“So, for someone to say that McGill influenced contracts in exchange of favor is far from reality. How did he achieve that? How could he influence decisions taken by other government officials who are at par with him in terms of status?”

Another source who is familiar with the workings of government said Mr. McGill’s contact or relationship with the PPCC had been on the basis of acting solely on the directive of President George Manneh Weah to intercede on his behalf on issues that needed to be sorted out between concessionaires and the PPCC, like the case between PPCC and the National Elections Commission on the issue of sourcing of bid for the biometric process.

East Int’l and McGill’s Alleged Connection

On Mr. McGill’s alleged ownership of shares in the East International, our source taking cue from information from the Ministry of Public Works contend that the contractors handling the current ELWA-RIA Highway project, that Mr. McGill had no share in the company and that the company in fact engaged in road development projects in Liberia during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, thus making it impossible for McGill to have been a shareholder and to also influence the contract at any given time.

The source, commenting on the agreement between the Government of Liberia and East International, and quoting a January 16, 2017 letter from the Ministry of Public Works under the signature of the then Minister of Public Works W. Gyude Moore to the General Manager of East International Group, stated: “Your Bid submitted on December 13, 2016 for the 24.5 km of the Existing Secondary Road Klay-DC Clarke in Bomi County Rigid Concrete Pavement Project Lot-1 had been accepted in the amount of $19M”.

“This document clearly shows that East International was in existence long before the current Coalition for Democratic Change (CDD) government came to power, and before McGill became Minister of State for Presidential Affairs under the Weah government,” says a staffer of the Ministry of Public Works who spoke on condition of anonymity regarding the issue of McGill and the US Treasury Department designation against him for corruption.

Further information from investigations shows that Mr. McGill was never involved too often in managing public funds within the Ministry of State as he, on many occasions, delegated responsibilities to some of his deputy ministers or other principal officers to issue and sign cheques.

One source said: “It may surprise you that throughout his five-year tenure as Minister, the number of times he signed cheques cannot be more than 100 times, which implies that as busy and demanding his office was and as important as the Ministry is which played host to the offices of the President, he only signed on the average 20 cheques annually. Again, that shows that he has less contact with funds and therefore cannot be seen as corrupt as the indictment against him stated.”

Public Reaction

Several ordinary citizens who spoke to The Analyst say they are concerned about the sanctions against the sanctioned officials, mainly Mr. McGill, it appears citizens are made to suffer unduly for acts they did not commit.

According to them, the US government has a strong sense of justice and probity, and needed not to place sanctions arbitrarily and that fair play demands that the US undo outcomes from decisions that are thoroughly investigated and proven otherwise.

The investigation further noted that the US government based its reliance for the sanctions on information from various sources that might be politically compromised.

One credible source conjectured that “it is very likely that the bulk of the information fed to the US Treasury Department could have been compromised”.

 He continued: “You have to remember that the Weah administration has in its employ citizens from all sides of the political aisle, from the opposition camp as well. It is possible that a majority of that information could have been skewed to the benefit of McGill’s detractors who see him as a threat to Weah’s second term try.”

Weah’s former Minister of State Nathaniel Falo McGill has been involved in a lot of humanitarian works such as giving out scholarship opportunities to students and helping the needy on behalf of the President and also in his own name.

Many ordinary citizens assert that it is difficult for them to believe that Mr. McGill was corrupt.

They are thus appealing to the US government to remove McGill from the sanction list.

Comments are closed.