MONROVIA: Contrary to the insinuation that trailed the designation issued by the Department of State of the United States government yesterday, Monday, December 11, 2023, against the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Samuel D. Tweah Jr, President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate Albert Chie and Senator Emmanuel Nuquay of Margibi County, which has been misconstrued to mean sanctions. The Analyst can authoritatively report that the three top government officials were not sanctioned but were placed on visa restriction from entering the United States as per the indictment against them.
According to the press statement issued by the Embassy of the United States near Monrovia which quoted the decision from the Department of State said “Pursuant to Section 7031(c), the United States is publicly designating Tweah, Chie, and Nuquay, for their involvement in significant corruption by abusing their public positions through soliciting, accepting, and offering bribes to manipulate legislative processes and public funding, including legislative reporting and mining sector activity.”
“As part of this action, their immediate family members are also designated, including their spouses Delecia Berry Tweah, Abigail Chie, and Ruthtoria Brown Nuquay, and Tweah and Nuquay’s minor children”, the statement said
Research conducted by The Analyst revealed that Section 7031© which is also called the FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET TRANSPARENCY SEC. 7031, falls under the broad headline called ANTI-KLEPTOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS and clearly provided definition of who should be regarded as violators
“Officials of foreign governments and their immediate family members about whom the Secretary of State has credible information have been involved, directly or indirectly, in significant corruption, including corruption related to the extraction of natural resources, or a gross violation of human rights shall be ineligible for entry into the United States”, the section of the act read.
Our checks further showed that being designated for violating the law does not attract the forfeiture or seizure of one’s assets or properties if the violator owns properties in the United States.
“It is important to make the clarification that this has nothing to do with the Magnitsky act which has seen some other Liberians penalized with a series of travel bans and property seizure”, said a Liberian national, Peter Jarrett, who resides in the State of Alabama.
Under the law according to further research from The Analyst, there is a room for both exception and waiver which raises hope that the penalty could be vacated based on special instances and the violator could once again get access to the territory of the United States of America.
“Individuals shall not be ineligible for entry into the United States pursuant to paragraph (1) if such entry would further important United States law enforcement objectives or is necessary to permit the United States to fulfill its obligations under the United Nations Headquarters Agreement: Provided, That nothing in paragraph (1) shall be construed to derogate from United States Government obligations under applicable international agreements”, the clause under the exception said.
On the other hand, the waiver clause says, “The Secretary may waive the application of paragraph (1) if the Secretary determines that the waiver would serve a compelling national interest or that the circumstances which caused the individual to be ineligible have changed sufficiently”.
It has been discovered while cross checking on multiple sources, that the designations under the State Department to carry liberal penalties as they do not most often lead to forfeiture or seizure of the properties of the violator unlike under the Department of Treasury where the Magnitsky Act and others fall that come with the severest punishment such as freezing of accounts, forfeiture or seizure of properties.
The designation placed on the top government officials may have come with lesser penalties which only restrict them from the United States and may be due to the understanding that their respective offences may not be as grave as the categories that the United States government does not take lightly.
They could still travel to other western countries and pursue their personal businesses without being molested.