MONROVIA – State for Presidential Affairs Minister Nathaniel Farlo McGill who was suspended recently by his boss, President George M. Weah, over yet-to-be-publicly-proven allegations of corruption and abuse of public office by the United States Department of Treasury is now out of his protracted silence and speaking publicly about the matter. While it must have appeared to his detractors that Mr. McGill, widely regarded one of the domineering political characters in the Weah administration, must have been fairly targeted by the Almighty USA, he does not think so. In the view of the suspended presidential chief of office staff, the basis for targeting him is a far cry from his true character but rather an outcome of disinformation and misinformation seemingly passed on to the US Treasury by his detractors. He spoke to Aljazeera exclusively over the weekend. The Analyst reports.
President George Manneh Weah’s Chief of Office Staff, State for Presidential Affairs Minister Nathaniel F. McGill, whom the President suspended over United States Treasury corruption allegation and sanction believes he is being wrongly targeted, claiming innocence. He however quickly noted that the Americans don’t hate him but that they acted out of misinformation passed on to them by his detractors and opponents of President Weah.
Mr. McGill said he has every reason to believe that the American Government does not hate him but that they must have been misinformed by some people who hate the George Weah administration.
In an exclusive interview with Qatar-based Aljazeera over the weekend, Mr. McGill seized the moment to give his side particularly to international audience regarding allegations of corruption and subsequent sanction against him by United States Department of Treasury based on the 2022 report of the Magnitsky Acts.
The US Treasury Department recently spewed what seems to be sweeping allegations of corruption and abuse of power and sanctioned Minister McGill and two other officials of Government – Solicitor General of Liberia, Cllr. Saymah Syrenious Cephus, and the Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA), Bill Tweahway.
“The Americans may be investigating something genuine about corruption in Liberia but somebody must have told them something wrong about me or misinformed them into believing whatever that must have led to the sanctions,” the suspended presidential chief of office staff told Aljazeera September 3, 2022.
“I just believe someone must have told them the information which is not true but I don’t think the Americans hate me. I am just sure that they must have genuinely intended to find the source of corruption in the country but somebody must have given them the wrong information.”
Further accentuating his innocence in the matters brought against him by the US Department of Treasury, McGill also said that he was a victim of “identity theft”, meaning he, for far too long, was subjected to serious embarrassment in the hands of some faceless people who have been using his name and faking identities to present themselves as him.
He continued: “One thing you have to also know is that a lot criminally-minded people have used my name and position before to engage in corrupt practices, including extortion of money from people, while some people make calls around purporting to be me and swindling money from unsuspecting characters who are not only stealing from the people but are bent on tarnishing my reputation.
“Just go on Facebook, the evidence is all over the place. People are using fake identities, fake names as Hon. McGill to deceive people. Some of them were arrested before and being turned over to the security agencies for prosecution.”
When asked how he saw the sanction placed on him and two of his other compatriots, McGill noted he was not taking the situation lightly and that it has an enormous weight, but that he would not say much for now as he has written to President George Manneh Weah to make his response known.
McGill also said he would pursue the matter through the legal process so as to seize the opportunity to be heard, adding that, to his belief, the United States, which is the greatest democracy in the world and a firm believer in human rights and justice, will give him the opportunity to defend himself.
Responding to a question whether it is true that corruption is being practiced at high places in Liberia, McGill said he could not be categorical to state corruption exists or not but admitted that corruption being a worldwide thing, it would be an understatement if he says that there is no corruption in Liberia.
He also noted that at the same time, it would be wrong to say categorically that there exists corruption in the country if he has not been able to establish the fact.
He retorted: “If I say there is corruption, have I established that? What is my evidence? Yes, people may be corrupt but the laws in Liberia say you have to bring evidence against the individual. So, there are individuals that have been investigated or are being investigated. And I am not the Minister of Justice to lead the legal process to know who is guilty or not.”
Mr. McGill, who said he was eager to be heard so as to clear his good name and reputation professedly built over the years, emphatically denied being a corrupt person.
In reference to the allegation that he has been soliciting money from businesspeople with the desire to get a kickback, he said: “There is no business man in this country who can say I have asked them for money as kickback for me to influence anything in government be it for contract or special privilege.
“So, for those who are interested in following the truth for the real meaning of it, there are many businessmen in this country—the Indians, the Lebanese and others—just ask them whether McGill has ever taken money from them”.
Regarding probable rationale for the US Department of Treasury to indict him of corrupt acts, McGill said it is something he could not fathom, and that no one from any institution of the United States has ever asked him or probed him about corrupt practices or any negative thing since he became the Minister of State for Presidential affairs.
He said though the US Ambassador to Liberia Michael McCarthy has been consistent about the issue of corruption in the country, which has been a generic and a broad perspective of what the Ambassador felt about corruption in the country, there has never been a time where the Ambassador or any member of the US government ever queried or confronted him about being involved in acts of corruption.
He maintained that he is not a target of the US Department of Treasury and he sees no reason for ever believing it, but thinks “those who had the genuine reason to conduct an investigation about corruption must have unfortunately been misled by others who did not have any evidence or facts to prove their allegation against me. So, we cannot say we are being targeted by the American government.”
McGill, who told the journalists that the implication of the sanction on him was that it destroyed his good reputation and name he has built over the years, said that he looks forward to any process that will give him the opportunity to state his case and exonerate himself from the allegations so as to restore the honest status he has had over the years.
He continued: “I am awaiting God’s intervention. My lawyers are working on it. You see, I don’t blame the Americans. I don’t think the Americans hate me but I think somebody misled them. This is an investigation, someone told them the story. They never met me. I didn’t have the opportunity to defend myself on these things. I just heard about everything on the news. So, it came as a surprise and I still maintain my innocence.”
The suspended presidential said unfounded weird perceptions, rather then empirical evidence, are the tool of his detractors and the government he served.
He put it this way: “Liberia is so free and you can talk or say anything about the government, about corruption and nothing will happen to you. People abuse the President and nothing happens to them.”
Referring to foreign journalists interviewing him, he asked rhetorically: “Since you came to the country, has anyone threatened you? Do you see the army or any of our security personnel in the streets with guns? Liberia is the only country in the sub-region where you go and you will not find any security personnel with guns in the streets. It tells you the extent that there is tolerance for people to say anything they wish to say, including anything about corruption,” the suspended Minister of State indicated.”