In Part-II of our report on a 16-year long investigation on how US Diplomat, John W. Blaney, III, allegedly pressured and intimidated LNTG Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant to award the Nimba iron ore concession to Mittal Steel outside of required laws, Lyndon J. Ponnie, reports on how seven top Bryant cabinet ministers, tried in vain to dissuade him from falling prey to alleged threats from the US Envoy.
Our investigation discovered that Chairman Bryant’s attempt to reverse the Nimba concession bid in favor of Mittal, did not go unchecked. Documents obtained by Concord Times revealed that some of the Chairman’s confidantes in the cabinet, tried very hard to discourage him from doing that.
The confidantes, irritated by Bryant’s decision, wrote him an official letter expressing their objection.
The letter dated October 28, 2004, was signed by Bryant’s advisor on mines and energy, Cletus Wortorson; the Minister of Finance, Lucinee Kamara; the Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy, Jonathan A. Mason and the Minister of Justice, Kabineh Janeh. Others who signed the letter included Minister of Labor, Laveli Supuwood, and the President of LIMINCO, Ciapha S. Gbollie.
The communication urged the Chairman to stick to the prevailing laws of Liberia and not acquiesce to the US Ambassador’s demand.
The seven top officials, informed Chairman Bryant that nullification of the bid result would have driven potential investors away from the country.
The letter gave a vivid background to the head-of-State on how Global Infrastructure Holding Limited (GIHL) won the bid. They told Bryant that GIHL met all the requirements set under the laws of Liberia.
They explained that in accordance with the mining laws and mineral policy of Liberia, the evaluation of applications for mineral mining rights is on the basis of first-come, first-served, taking into account the technical and financial competence of the applicant, the relevance of the proposal to the overall mineral development objectives and priorities of the Government, and so forth.
They also told Chairman Bryant that immediately upon the seating of the LNTG, an application for interest in the rehabilitation of Nimba Iron Ore Deposit and associated infrastructures that included LIMINCO Project was submitted to the Government by the GIHL.
The letter continued that based upon the guiding principles and mineral policies, the Government, through its statutory agencies, engaged the GIHL into discussion, pointing out that to otherwise undo the bid result would further hurt the already damaged image of Liberia, which was coming out of a bloody war.
The letter also said it is only through legal arrangements that individuals countries can survive, stating that the acquisition of a management and rehabilitation contract of the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, Nigeria’s only steel plan by GIHL further facilities the creation of the ECOWAS Trade Block, yea NEPAD.
They further informed Chairman Bryant that it was envisaged that the initial LIMINCO Iron Ore will be utilized by the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited.
They warned at the time that any deviation from establish governmental rules and procedures such as overturning the Board’s resolution will erode the confidence of investors in Liberia’s ability to negotiate and remain committed to agreements.
Accordingly, they said this is likely to make the Government less credible, causing the shying away of much needed foreign investment capital into the economy.
They requested a meeting with the Liberian leader, which according to our sources, was held at the Executive Mansion.
The meeting was intended to expound on why the then Liberia leader should stick to the law.
People who were closed to Chairman Bryant and attended the meeting, told Concord Times that the conference turned into a shouting session when the chairman told his friends that he would reverse the bid to avoid potential confrontation with the United States Government, adding that the pressure from Ambassador Blaney was irresistible.
During the meeting, our sources said Chairman Bryant told his confidantes that United States was a major financial and facilitator of the Liberian peace process at the time and did not want to anger them.
While Liberia was picking up its pieces after the terror of a third round of war and fragility in the security situation, the US Envoy John Blaney allegedly used his diplomatic powers to bully the Liberian leader to compel him reverse a bid proposal won by GIHL and have it awarded to Mittal.
Global Infrastructure Holding Limited (GIHL) had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Liberia on 28 November 2003 with the primary objectives and purposes of entering into a joint venture in respect to the restart of mining activities at the former LAMCO Concession Area.
The MOU provided that GIHL, among other things, would carry out the necessary due diligence and undertake a feasibility study on the Nimba Iron Ore deposits and the industrial infrastructure which includes but not limited to what was left of the housing units, the railroad, workshops, the Buchanan port, amongst other assets.
Rio Tinto/WATCO, LNM Holdings (owned by Mttal), BHP Billion and Shandong International Trading Group were the other companies that tendered proposals.
Angered by the reversal of the bid, GIHL sought the intervention of members of the Transitional Legislative Assembly.
In a letter dated April 4, 2005, which was addressed to the Speaker of the National Transitional Legislative Assembly, a representative of GIHL, Jacob Varnam said, “We have the honor for and in behalf of GIHL, a joint venture with the Liberian Government, to regrettably bring to your attention what we consider to be not only an illegal act on the part of Chairman Gyude Bryant, but an extreme bad business.”
Amongst other things, the letter requested the intervention of the Legislature to stop Chairman Bryant from reversing the bid his company had won.
GIHL in the letter told the lawmakers that Chairman Bryant took the action to satisfy the demand of Ambassador Blaney.
Unfortunately for the GIHL’s representative, the Legislature did not act, and Bryant however, overturned the bid and instead awarded the concession to Mittal. Follow concordtimes.net for Part III.