MedTec Contract Under Scrutiny as Government’s $18M Pact Raises Concerns Over Transit Account in Dubai

MedTec Contract Under Scrutiny as Government’s $18M Pact Raises Concerns Over Transit Account in Dubai
MedTec Contract Under Scrutiny as Government’s $18M Pact Raises Concerns Over Transit Account in Dubai

Africa-Press – Liberia. The Plenary of the Liberian Senate has established an Ad-Hoc Committee to investigate the questionable manner and form in which the former ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government of President George Manneh Weah signed a contract with a Qatari company Medtech Scientific that led to the establishment of a secret financial account in Dubai unknown to the other parties involved with the deal.

Plenary is the highest decision making body of the Senate.

The former government signed a 10-year contract with MedTech in July 2021 to conduct Destination Inspection of containers and to provide Verification of Conformity services at the Freeport of Monrovia. The company replaces BIVAC whose contract with the government expired in July 2021.

But a probe was launched by the Senate to also establish whether or not political corruption and potential money laundering led to the signing of the contract between MedTech and the Liberian government.

The Senators’ action stemmed from two separate communications from the Committees on Public Accounts and Commerce and industry signed by Amara Konneh, Alex Tyler, Dabah Varpilah, Jonathan Sogbie, Edwin Snowe, Nathaniel McGill, Crayton Duncan , Abraham Darius Dillon and Albert Chie of Gbarpolu, Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, River Gee, Margibi, Sinoe, Montserrado and Grand Kru respectively.

In the communications dated April 16, 2024, the committee claimed that Medtech has refrained from providing essential documentations for the period of July 2021 to November 2022.

They disclosed that the document supplied indicate the registration of the MTS Inspection services in November 2022, which does not align with the operational entities stipulated in the contract.

This, the lawmakers maintained, raises serious concern about compliance and transparency, thereby suggesting the potential conceiving of critical information.

They noted that the alleged act of the company is contemptuous to the committee’s workings.

“We present our compliments and wish to bring to your and Plenary attention the following observations on the designation, inspection and contract executed in July 2021 between the Government of Liberia and MedTech Scientific Dubai. We will like to express significant concern regarding the adequacy and legality of actions that are under this contract.”

Thomas Doe-Nah amended contract

The lawmakers further reported that they noticed the existence of letters from the fallen Director General of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) Thomas Doe_Nah for the amendments of the contract.

However, the Senators noted that, according to Section 22.6 of the contract MedTech signed with the government, “any modification must be a mutual written agreement between all contractual parties including multiple governmental bodies such as the LRA, National Investment Commission (NIC), the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning and the Minister of Justice.”

They added that the “unilateral amendments” from the deceased former Commissioner General to the contract are “not binding and are considered invalid under the terms of the existing agreement.”

Account established in Dubai

They further observed the unauthorized establishment of a Liberian transitory revenue account in Dubai for the contract.

According to them, the determination of a transitory account by the LRA in Dubai without the necessary authority or consent from all contractual parties represents a “significant deviation” from the agreed contractual term.

“This action undermines the stipulated financial management protocols in line with our agreement.”

The Senators, however, called for an audit to be conducted by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) because MedTech has already positioned itself as a spending entity.

It justified that the audit must be conducted to ascertain whether or not expenditures made by MedTech align with the Public Procurement and Concession (PPCC) Act of Liberia.

Hiding shareholders

The lawmakers also observed the lack of transparency in the company’s partnership and affiliation with others.

They noted that despite consistent requests, the company has allegedly refused to disclose affiliation, partnership and the related entities involved with the contract.

They emphasized that such disclosure is significant to help it investigate the related parties that have relevant ties to the contract executed in Liberia.

“Given this critical issues, we recommend a comprehensive audit by the General Auditing Commission of all funds managed by MedTech on behalf of the republic.”

They further called for all relevant documents and findings to be forwarded to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) for a thorough investigation into potential political corruption linked with this contract.

They want MedTech to adhere strictly to the contractual obligations, cooperate with the audit and investigation processes to ensure transparency and accountability for the proper use of public resources.

Under the MedTech contract, about 20% of monies collected from inspections go to the Government of Liberia. But the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Liberian Senate

Senator Amara Konneh observed that such monies have not been remitted into the Consolidated Account of the government.

The date of the signing of the MedTech contract by the Weah led-administration and its duration have not been established.

Charging exorbitant fees

However, the manner and form in which revenue was collected by the foreign company has also been questioned.

The company was reported to be charging exorbitant fees for the inspection of containers and others at the Freeport of Monrovia. it was widely reported that the company was charging the amount of US$450 from the previous US$250 that was being charged for the inspection of a container at the Freeport.

The failure of the past government to forward the contract to the National Legislature for ratification, continuous to spark concerns in the public.

At the time, authorities of the Weah-led administration justified that the deal was a “service contract” that does not require passage by the National Legislature.

But there are contentions among current members of the National Legislature that the contract is in violation of the Public Financial Management Law of 2009.

The law, amongst other things, states that a contract worth more than US$10million should meet legislative approval.

Section One law, under General Rules and Regulations also underscores the need for openness and accountability in the use and management of public funds.

Senate Pro-Tempore Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence named Senators Amara Konneh as Chair, Prince Moye Co-Chair, Dabah Varpilah, Edwin Snowe, Jonathan Sogbie, Abraham Darius Dillon, Augustine Chea, and Alex Tyler.

The committee is expected to report back to Plenary next Tuesday.

But this is not the first time that committees have been setup to probe the matter.

It can be recalled that in August 2021, the House of Representatives launched an investigation into the contract signed between the Liberian government and MedTech. But up to present, the outcome of the investigation has not been made public.

The Senate’s investigation may be another charade to appear serious and working in the interest of the Liberian people depending on the manner and form in which the matter would be handled or investigated by them.

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