Former Information Minister Amb. Lewis G. Brown’s response to the Acting Solicitor-General, Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephas
June 20, 2019
I am constrained to draw your attention to the online and print publications of the June 19 and 20 Editions of the Liberian Analyst Newspaper which quotes you extensively as the source of a “List of Former Government Officials” said to have been investigated and or audited by either the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) or the General Auditing Commission (GAC), and accordingly, have been determined to be liable to restitute, be prosecuted for, and or jailed supposedly on the discretion of the newly-created office of the Assets Recovery Team (ART). My name, and those of other colleagues with whom I was privileged to have served during my tenure at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), have been included in those publications erroneously purveying the public impression that we have either been audited by the GAC and or investigated by the LACC, and as a consequence of these audits and or investigations, evidence exists of the collective and or individual commissions of fraud, misappropriation, misapplication or otherwise theft of public monies entrusted into our individual or collective care, for which we must now answer to the ART.
It is instructive that none of the individuals listed under MICAT have either participated in any audit of MICAT by the GAC or have been made aware or participated in any investigation by the LACC. The closest I have come to information concerning the alleged conduct of an audit by the GAC was through a publication in the September 18, 2018 online and print edition of the FrontPageAfrica Newspaper, more than two and half years after I had left the MICAT, under the byline of journalist Alaskai Johnson who was kind to inform me that the source of his story was a member of the Liberian Legislature. This was my first time hearing about the “audit” and the claims supposedly contained therein.
Obviously, one cannot react to an audit that s/he did not participate in, was unaware of, and was, as yet, unpublished. I therefore felt compelled to limit my reaction to the news article of the FPA, which I did on September 22, 2018 (attached). In that letter to the editor of the FPA, I faithfully represented that I was unaware of the conduct of the audit, have not been consulted at any stage of the audit, nor had I been afforded any copy of its findings. However, I welcomed the need for continuous audit in the public service to ensure transparency and accountability, and cautioned that these important exercises be pursued with due professional care and diligence to avoid unnecessary, unintended and irreparable harm to the reputations of undeserving individuals or risks to the reputations of our public institutions that are tasked with performing these much-needed and important functions.
The second time I am hearing of this “audit” is via the medium indicated supra, and as indicated, at your behest. As you can expect, the publications have caused me and my family undeserved embarrassment and public derision. I have to assume it has done the same for my colleagues as well.
I cannot emphasize enough that we owe a duty to ourselves, as officials and as citizens, to guide against the seemingly growing temptation to wreck the reputations of each other without the required exercise of due professional care and reciprocal respect especially in the discharge of the duties and functions of our entrusted offices. This is even more compelling in today’s advances in communication technology. Importantly also, we risk denigrating the important duty of public accountability and transparency, for which we must all be supportive, as opposed to casting it in dismal and unwanted political theater when we do not permit ourselves to thread carefully, professionally and diligently in the pursuit of these important public undertakings.
No doubt, the fight against corruption is an honorable one with which we must all be faithfully enjoined because it is one from which all will benefit. However, the fight against each other is one with which we must dread to be enjoined because it is one for which all are inextricably destined to lose. This, then, is why I use this opportunity to urge us not to turn a blind eye to corruption wherever manifested; and yet, I must again caution that we do not invest ourselves in shooting each others hard-earned reputations and public service records down without the associated regard for due professional care and much-needed diligence, even if it fashionably feeds into the currency of political divisions.
Finally, on the strength of the facts herein contained, I urge you and the ART to cause an adjustment in the publication attributed to you, by removing my name, those of my colleagues as well as the names of all others similarly situated, because the basis on which you have supposedly relied to engineer the publication is legally untenable and professionally flawed.
I am taking the liberty to share this letter with the Auditor-General as well as the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General.
With esteemed regards,
Ambassador Lewis G. Brown, II
Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephas
Republic of Liberia
Madam Yusudor Gaye
Republic of Liberia
Cllr. Frank Musa Dean
Minister of Justice and Attorney-General
Republic of Liberia