MONROVIA, Montserrado – One of the defendants in the National Housing Authority bribery trial, Duannah Siryon, denies receiving US$80,000 while serving at the agency.
Siryon took the witness stance on Monday to testify on bribery allegations brought against him and other former NHA authorities by the government.
Siryon said the indictment is erroneous and that he did not receive any money from GELPAZ-IMMO, nor did he distribute money to others as kickback.
“At no point in time did I negotiate and receive any US$80,000 at the Grand Royal Hotel in Monrovia from Emmanuel Tapsoba or any GELPAZ’s representative,” he added.
Duannah Siryon, Tugbeh C. Tugbe, Isaac Roberts, and Augustine Weah were charged with economic sabotage, bribery, theft of property, misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy, and criminal facilitation.
Siryon was allegedly contacted through the company’s (GELPAZ-IMMO) former coordinator, Emmanuel Tapsoba, about the company’s intent to build homes in the country.
“I saw US$1,000 in the note,” Siryon told the court. “I did not know the purpose of the US$1,000, and in my own conscience, I immediately returned said amount to Augustine Weah in the presence of GELPAZ-IMMO’s president and delegation. Then, at which time did I receive US$80,000?”
According to the indictment, the Burkina Faso-based company, GELPAZ-IMMO, expressed interest in constructing over 5,000 housing units along the Roberts International Airport Highway.
The indictment further noted that a team from the NHA had traveled to Burkina Faso to establish whether the company had the capacity to do the proposed work. It added that defendants Siryon, Tugbeh, Roberts, and Weah conspired and colluded to dupe the company and defraud the Government of Liberia by compromising the value-for-money work principle. This allegedly happened from August to September 2018.
The prosecution said the actual work that should have been carried out by the company was undercut by the alleged act of the defendants, who received US$80,000 out of the US$92,000 sent to the country on two separate occasions by the company.
Prosecutors also claimed that upon Siryon’s instruction, Augustine Weah took US$20,000 to the NHA’s office and presented the same to Siryon in the presence of his two deputies.
Featured photo courtesy of Duannah Siryon