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US Imposes Sanctions On Liberian Minister, Senior Government Officials

liberia aug16 lt

The United States has imposed sanctions on a Liberian minister and two top government officials for their involvement in ongoing public corruption in that western African nation.

Nathaniel McGill, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Chief of Staff to President George Weah; Sayma Syrenius Cephus, the Solicitor General and Chief Prosecutor of Liberia; and Bill Twehway, the Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA), were designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Monday.

"Through their corruption these officials have undermined democracy in Liberia for their own personal benefit," said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson.

The U.S. State Department said McGill has used his position to undermine the integrity and independence of Liberia's democratic institutions and subvert government priorities for personal gain. "Cephus has developed close relationships with suspects of criminal investigations and has received bribes from individuals in exchange for arranging for their cases to be dropped. Twehway has used his position at the NPA to corruptly advance his own personal wealth and political agenda".

McGill has used government funds allocated to other Liberian government institutions to run his own projects, made off-the-books payments in cash to senior government leaders, and organized warlords to threaten political rivals, according to OFAC. McGill has received an unjustified stipend from various Liberian government institutions and used his position to prevent his misappropriation from being discovered. He regularly distributes thousands of dollars in undocumented cash to other government officials for government and non-government activities.

Corruption has long undermined Liberia's democracy and its economy, robbing the Liberian people of funds for public services, empowering illicit actors, degrading the business environment, and damaging the rule of law and effective governance in the country.

As a result of the sanctions, all property and interests of the designated Liberian individuals in the United States will be blocked and reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more targeted persons, are also blocked.

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