Liberian Telecommunications Agency mired in corruption allegations

Telecoms

The Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), the regulatory body of telecommunication companies in Liberia is mired in corruption allegations centred on its Commissioner Albert Bropleh.

Investigation conducted by FrontPageAfrica have unearthed how millions have been siphoned off at the LTA through the withdrawal and transfers of funds by Commissioner Albert Bropleh for purchase of goods that were not delivered to the entity. The LTA has a budget of $US8M for a staff of only 25 employees.

Commissioner Bropleh has also, according to investigation been engaged in increasing his salaries and per diems on a monthly basis without approval by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

In September 2007, Commissioner Bropleh received an amount of US$3291.47 in salary and bonus and by October 2007, his salary and bonus jumped to US$ 16,833 without explanation.

On October 19, 2007, Commissioner Bropleh withdrew an amount of US$10,000 from the LTA for relocating his family from the United States of America to Liberia with no records of the travel documents including air tickets to justify the expenditure. It is also not clear whether the President of Liberia approved of the relocation package.

According to the Front Page investigation, on 29 October, 2007, the LTA transferred an amount of US$ 24,49. 43 to Commissioner Bropleh while he was in the United States of America accordingly for the purchase of laptop computers, spectrum and analysis, but there were no supporting documents on the purchase.

There are also no information that the Public Procurement and Concession (PPC) rules were applied in the purported US$ 24,49. 43 laptop purchase deal and whether Commissioner Bropleh is the rightful person to buy the items on behalf of the entity.

Another questionable financial transaction from the LTA by Commissioner Bropleh was done on June 20, 2008 when the Commissioner and his Special Assistant Emma Tokpah received $4,500 and $3,200 respectively, to travel to Germany for the Liberia Poverty Reduction Forum. However, on June 23 he wrote a memorandum that the trip had been cancelled without refunding the per diems received into the account of the Commission.

The LTA again made another transfer of US$95,895 to the Liberian Embassy in the United States to buy two cars, but the recipient of the money was not known, and no reason was provided by the LTA for such overseas transfer when the cars bought are sold here in Liberia.

Commissioner Bropleh, according to investigation took delivery of the money and purchased from himself and another close friend, the cars to the LTA. Additionally, US$24,000 was again transferred to the United States for the purchase of five laptop computers for the second time after the first transfer of a similar amount for the same purpose.

On 22 February, 2008, Front Page alleges that the LTA opened a credit account at ECO Bank Liberia Limited with an initial deposit of US$111,421.25, but in whose favor the account was opened was not mentioned.

Investigation backed by highly placed LTA sources has gathered that the head of the Commission, Bropleh has reduced the entity to his personal chiefdom, taking decisions single-handedly without the input of any of his fellow commissioners or other senior staffers of the entity.

Commissioner Bropleh according to Front Page’s investigation withdrew US$50,000 from the coffers of the entity to sponsor a trip for merrymaking abroad but when contacted, Jedi Armah the Public Relations Officer of the LTA said, the commissioner had gone to South Africa for a telecommunications conference.

While returning from the conference, the head of the LTA flew to the United States of America and when questioned whether the trip to America was also sponsored by the LTA, Armah was very ambivalent saying Commissioner Bropleh might have used his own money to travel to the United States.

The LTA Public Relations Officer responding to information of huge withdrawals and transfers by the LTA without proper documentations invited our reporter to meet with those in charge of financial transactions at LTA.

The head of the LTA, Commissioner Bropleh, was accused late last year of purchasing vehicles worth around US$ 50,000-60,000, while fellow commissioners were using cheaper ones, a situation that led to other commissioners raising qualms.

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