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Harry Cassin Publisher and Editor

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Julie DiMauro Contributing Editor

Thomas Fox Contributing Editor

Marc Alain Bohn Contributing Editor

Bill Waite Contributing Editor

Shruti J. Shah Contributing Editor

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Richard Bistrong Contributing Editor 

Eric Carlson Contributing Editor

Bill Steinman Contributing Editor

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Friday
Feb072014

Liberia whistleblowers in U.S. deny $1 million theft

Two Liberian-Americans accused of “economic sabotage” by the African country have denied the charges and claim they have proof of large-scale graft by top officials there.

Judge Melvin Johnson, left, the first black Chief Judge of Lithonia, Georgia (USA), was a legal advisor to the Liberian Airport Authority.

He was appointed with the support of his alleged co-conspirator, Ellen Corkrum, also a Liberian-American who served as the airport authority's managing director.

They claim to "have assembled hundreds of pages of documents and email correspondence that would prove their case," VOANews reported last week.

Liberia wants the United States to extradite the pair so they can be prosecuted for allegedly stealing $1 million and fleeing the country.
 
But Johnson told VOA "he and Corkrum began secretly recording senior government officials, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, when they learned of a plot by government officials to undermine their anti-corruption measures."

He said they were told by Defense Minister Brownie Samukai that certain government officials, including the Finance Minister, Amara Konneh, and Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Edward McClain, “wanted unfettered access to $130 million that was slated for airport renovation.”

Justice Minister Christiana Tah confirmed to VOA that Liberia has indicted the pair and asked the U.S. government to extradite them.
 
In President Sirleaf's January 27 State of the Nation speech, she called Corkrum "an unscrupulous and conspiring newly recruited Managing Director, who returned kindness and deference with entrapment and intriguing accusations to damage the credibility of several individuals, and the image of the country."

Johnson said the Liberia government brought the charges against himself and Corkrum to cover up “the embarrassing revelations” contained in the secret recordings, VOA said.

He and Corkrum have secret tape recordings of President Sirleaf and her sister, Johnson told VOA.
 
“All the recordings we have are tailored to exposing corruption or tailored to bring the truth to the Liberian people and to the world as to why the everyday people of Liberia continue to suffer in light of all the natural resources and international goodwill that we have,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Liberian government officials helped him and Corkrum flee the country. He didn't name those who helped.

He said he and Corkrum have met with State Department officials in Washington, DC to discuss what he calls "bogus" claims behind the extradition request.

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Richard L. Cassin is the Publisher and Editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.