Monrovia — More than US$$200,000 has been illegally and surreptitiously withdrawn from a saving account which was opened at the United Bank of Africa (UBA) Liberia Limited to help address financial constraints confronting agents of the elite Executive Protection Service (EPS).
The EPS is an elite group of armed men and women providing security for the President, Vice President, Speaker and all VIPs in the Executive. They also provide security for foreign guests visiting the country.
It can be recalled that in June 2018, over 800 agents of the EPS adopted a constitution under the banner “Executive Protection Service Employees’ Development Fund” to afford them the opportunities to accumulate saving and create credit facilities for themselves, from which they can obtain loans for productive and provident purposes at a fair interest rate of 5%.
The Fund was managed by a Team of five (5) persons and its activities were being monitored by a team of three Board Members as Observers and Auditors.
Those who headed the management team were James Helb (Chairman), Alex Togba (Co-Chair), Tony Morris (Credit Manager), James Paye (Financial Secretary) and Joseph Weah (General Secretary).
The Board members were Esther P. Chea (Chairperson), Emmanuel Wesseh and Stephen Morgan.
Those comprising of the management team and board were elected by agents of the EPS, who are referred to as shareholders under the Fund.
Section 1 of the constitution adopted by the agent states that: “In order for the EPS Employees Development Fund to achieve its intended goal and objectives, the sum of US$20 is charged as monthly due per member and it is to be deducted from all agreed member monthly salary check by the Comptroller of the EPS and transferred to the Fund’s Bank Account through its Management Team.”
Since then, more than US$300,000 has been deposited in the Fund’s account at the UBA.
The Fund Account number # is: 53010550002258 with title: EPS Employees Development Fund.
Several employees of the EPS benefitted from the initiative and were also made to pay back interests into the account of the Fund, which was being managed by the James Helb leadership.
However, the initiative backfired when both the administration of the EPS and the Board noticed high level of discrepancies and alleged malpractices on the management of the Fund following multiple complaints and concerns raised by some of the agents or shareholders.
An unimpeachable source at the EPS confided in FrontPage Africa that the administration of the EPS, requested a comprehensive audit of the Fund in October 2021.
The audit, which was conducted by an independent firm, recommended a halt in the deduction of US$20 each from the salaries of the agents (shareholders) and requested the payment of monies that were already paid by the agents to the Fund to avoid additional problems in the future.
The source revealed that following the move, the Management Team of the EPS Development Fund, through the Board made a payment of 70% to all employees of the agency, with an outstanding of 30%.
The Board shouldered the responsibility to commence the payment of the 70% when agent James Helb allegedly reneged to show up for work since August this year, following the release of the audit.
Though agent Helb promised several times to return to work to uphold the trust and confidence reposed in him by his colleagues, our source added that, he failed to do so.
In October 2022, the Board again made multiple attempts to ensure that the Management Team settled the payment of the remaining 30% to the agents (shareholders) of the Fund through agent Helb, but he failed to avail himself up to present.
Our source disclosed that Chairman Helb has not been seen on the grounds of the EPS on Capitol Hill in Monrovia for nearly four months now.
Helb, Togba and Paye were the previous signatories to the Fund’s account at the UBA bank.
“Following James Helb’s surreptitious departure from the agency, the U-Direct code which was being used previously to electronically withdraw monies from the account of the EPS Fund at UBA, was clandestinely changed, making it impossible for agents Togba and Paye, who were also signatories to the account to have access. Since then, over US$200,000 has been clandestinely withdrawn from the EPS Employees Development Fund Account and agents (shareholders) cannot receive their outstanding 30% the Fund owes them along with the interest,” a source who spoke on condition of anonymity stated.
US$180, 000 paid to an agent
Agatha Nyhorpulu Sayee, an agent of the EPS, holds the account number: 53030500099138 at the same UBA in Liberia.
A copy of the EPS Employees Development Fund account bank statement, which is in the possession of FrontPage Africa, revealed that the amount of US$180,000 was paid to agent Sayee from the account between the period of January 26 to October 12, 2022.
But her personal back statement only shows that she only received the amount of US$3,800 from the Fund.
She was previously given loan under the Fund to seek advance medical treatment in Ghana following a period of protracted illness.
“We want to know how the US$180,000 disbursed to the account of agent Agatha Sayee from the EPS Employees Development Fund’s account was not totally captured in her personal bank statement”, the source maintained.
Other accounts were also credited from the EPS Employees Development Fund account though the used of the LEO App, which is connected to the bank account.
When contacted via telephone, the Managing Director of UBA Madam Nkechi Joyce Arizor requested this writer to contact her via text message.
“I am in my Board meeting and the meeting is sensitive. I cannot attend to this now,” she responded via text message when she was abreast about the situation.
Madam Arizor promised to call back later, but however failed to do so up to press time.
However, FrontPage Africa has independently gathered that the administration of the EPS has written the bank seeking reconciliation of the two conflicting bank statements issued.
On the run
Agent James Helb, Chairman of the Management Team of the EPS Employees Development Fund is said to be on the run.
He reportedly fled Liberia for Ghana.
He has been linked to allegedly using LEO APP to transfer and withdraw monies from the account.
The Board of the Fund was reportedly planning to pay the balance when it noticed that its account at UBA was depleted.
From October 14 to present, a little over US$300 remains in the account.
EPS administration victimized
FrontPageAfrica has established that the administration of the Executive Protection Service (EPS), headed by Director Trokon Roberts, has not been directly involved with the management of the EPS Employees Development Fund.
The various Directors were also part of the Fund in which the amount of US$20 each was deducted from their salaries.
They also benefitted from loans under the program, but at some point, in time, overpaid the amounts credited along with interests before realizing.
According to Section 2 of the bye-law and constitution of the EPS Employees Development Fund, the roles of the administration include: to serve as an internal prosecutor against all offenses that contravene the Fund’s bye-laws and the standard operating procedure of the EPS, provides administrative authority over the financial affairs of the union because they work at the will and pleasure of the President, and all periodic financial report according to the standard set in the document, shall at all times be channeled through the EPS Administration for perusal to convene a general meeting for the shareholders’ acknowledgement and discussion, among others.
Those who are part of the administration of the EPS are also victimized as their remaining 30% from the Fund along with interest cannot be disbursed due to the depletion of the account at the UBA.
Apart from the 30%, the over US$50,000 accumulated as interest from loans repaid by some of the agents (shareholders) which was deposited in the bank, is not also accounted for.
Police in Monrovia backed by other state security actors have launched an investigation into the matter.
An arrest warrant has also been issued for agent James Helb, who is said to be on the run. Interpol has also been alerted on the matter.
Source link : https://allafrica.com/stories/202211020317.html
Author : FrontPageAfrica
Publish date : 2022-11-02 11:01:51