Winstanley R Bankole Johnson: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 January 2024:
In my view, audio evidence by Dr. Sylvia Blyden (OOR) pillorying former President Ernest Bai Koroma (photo above) as guilty of Money Laundering is porous, full of inconsistencies and lacking in clarity for a number of reasons:
1 What transpired between the Emir of Qatar and former President Dr. Enerst Bai Koroma (EBK) could well have been what the law would describe as gift inter-vivos (Gift from one living person to another)
2 With (1) above in mind, what wrongs were committed by EBK directing for proceeds from such gift inter-vivos to have been paid into an account of his choice as the direct beneficiary?
3 What is the appellate designation (Names) and numbers of the said UBA Nigeria Account that EBK directed the gift inter-vivos proceeds to have been paid into?
4 If it was the intention of Emir of Qatar that the funds/gift proceeds was for the benefit of Sierra Leone and not directly for disbursement by EBK in particular, why did he comply with EBK’s directive (as alleged) to have paid those said funds/gift away and into an Account Name that is different from EBK’s (by which the Emir had always known him) and that is domiciled outside Sierra Leone (Nigeria) for that matter?
Additionally, has it not occurred to anyone that the reason why Dr. Sylvia Blyden (OOR) omitted reference to EBK violating Sec.118 (7) of our Constitution is because she is cocksure the transaction – if it ever existed – was personal and that EBK violated no law?
Sec. 118 (7) for ease of reference compels Ministers and other authorities to notify Parliament of all gifts, donations, Grant’s, and or pledges made to the State of Sierra Leone. But were the Qatar funds – if ever disbursed – for Sierra Leone?
5 What are the full/correct personal names of the Emir on whose instructions those funds were paid away into the said UBA Nigeria Bank Account?
And incidentally can one actually classify funds transfer between a donor and a donee restricted to just two Banks as laundered funds?
6 With which specific Branch of the said UBA Nigeria Bank was all of this alleged Money Laundering transacted?
7 Who is/are the signatories over that UBA Nigeria Bank Account? In other words, how does the mandate over the said UBA Nigeria Bank Account read?
I have written copiously and in defence of EBK on this Money Laundering allegations against him in the past, and up to this minute I have no reason or persuasion to vary my original stance, unless and until I see the “smoking gun” clarifying all the points I have raised above.
In all his tribulations and for all what we know about the no love lost relationship between former and present Presidents (EBK/Bio) – especially as has been reiterated by the Bio – I consider it very odd for Bio not to have capitalized on this Money Laundering matter against EBK (if indeed he had any iota of proof).
For someone like EBK that both Bio and his VP have in their separate public utterances vowed to “bring down/reduce in status to nothing if he did not quit politics”, here was a golden opportunity for both gentlemen to have amplified/exacerbated EBK’s woes by adding to them, an additional indictment for Money Laundering as well, but which they fail to leverage from.
Or could it be that the SLPP government had tried as best they could but have failed to elicit support from the Qataris to prosecute EBK, given both the paucity of the amount involved and the reputational damage the story might impact on their leaders and country?
Come to think of it US$3Mio to the Qatari Royal family is a pittance. But ours is the only country I know that would pillory their past and present leaders just for the fun of it and without sufficient evidence.
So in the event of the government’s failure to have added this alleged Money Laundering matter to EBK ‘s indictments is a booster to my long held convictions that beyond malicious and pernicious intents of vendetta against him, based on a cursory submissions by Prosecuting Counsel Robert Kowa during the closure of the Biobele Goodwill Commission of Inquiry that he was involved in Money Laundering, there is absolutely no cogent case for EBK to answer insofar as it relates to that specific gift inter-vivos between an Emir of Qatar and himself as a former President.