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Misleading! David Kolleh did not loot public assets during transition

Claim: A Facebook user, Martin Kollie, alleged on his official Facebook page that the Deputy Minister for Technical Services at the Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), David Kolleh, looted public assets in his office after realising the incumbent George Weah had lost. 

Verdict: Misleading! On his Facebook page, Minister David B. Kolleh confirmed that some assets were taken from the office but apologised for it claiming his assistant  misinterpreted his directive for him to pack his personal assets from the office after the defeat. He promised to return the materials. In addition, the General Services Agency (GSA) confirmed that Mr Kolleh did take away assets from his office, except those were assets he purchased during his term in office. 

Full Text 

The looting of public assets by outgoing government officials has become normal after Liberia’s return to democracy. Lawmakers and sometimes Ministers who fail their re-election bid often leave their offices with looted public assets.  

There are many stories in the past of government officials looting public assets after leaving office. These officials ascribe different reasons for their actions, including claims that they purchased the stolen assets with their monies.

With the defeat of Liberia’s president, George Weah, stories of alleged looting by outgoing officials are beginning to emerge. One such story is that of  David Kolleh, Assistant Minister for Technical Services at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism. 

According to a claim posted by Martin K N Kollie via his Facebook page, a few days after the official pronouncement of NEC on the Nov. 14 elections, Minister David ordered the removal of logistics in his office since he was about to be relieved of his post due to government transition. 

The claim drew the public’s attention to the public official’s alleged misconduct. This led DUBAWA to fact-check it. 

Verification

In verifying this claim, DUBAWA found a post on Mr David B. Kolleh’s Facebook page. He admitted that some assets in his office had been taken away but explained it was not a deliberate decision to loot but rather a case of miscommunication. 

“However, following an in-house investigation with my staff, I realised that my office assistant misinterpreted my instructions to collect my “personal effects” from my office ahead of the transition period, to be everything I bought for my office use.”

He has since apologised and promised to return all the assets taken from the office. 

Screenshot of his statement below 

Furthermore, based on the virality of the claim, the General Services Agency (GSA) which has the responsibility to regulate all government assets, decided to launch an investigation into the matter. 

The  Agency is an Act of the National Legislature in 1971 promulgated after a comprehensive study of the procurement mechanisms and the acquisition of assets by the Government of Liberia.  This act expressed the tenets of good governance, accountability, and transparency. It mandated the GSA to make every effort to streamline GOL spending, obtain value for the taxpayers’ dollars, and maintain standards. It is also to help identify, procure, and manage all Government Of Liberia’s assets with efficiency and transparency.

After investigating David Kolleh, the GSA issued a report explaining the assets alleged to have been looted from the office of David Kolleh were assets he purchased with his own money whilst in office. 

Attached is the GSA report 

However, there were similar claims at the  Ministry of Agriculture, which forced the sector’s Minister, Jeanine M. Cooper, to caution the Ministry workers and ask them to return every asset belonging to the Institution they may have taken away. As per the Minister’s directive, all workers at the Ministry of Agriculture are not allowed to take any assets the entity uses from the office. Any worker with a movable property of MOA should return them before the full government transition. 

Below is the MOA statement 

Conclusion 

According to our findings, it is misleading that the  Deputy Minister for Technical Services at MICAT looted assets from the Ministry. 

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