President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is entering the third year to her second term and will step down from the Presidency in January 2018 after general elections in October 2017. The Liberian Constitution forbids a president from running for more than two terms.
The lapse of President Sirleaf’s second term restricted by the country’s constitution of two terms limit has opened the floodgate to the Executive Mansion as there is no successor groomed by the President to continue her programs and protect her legacy, a predicament self-inflicted by her failure to reign in corruption, nepotism, and loyalty to friends above the interest of the country.
The void of a groomed successor to the incumbent President has produced a fertile soil to the country’s political landscape enticing strange bedfellows to express interest in succeeding President Sirleaf and one such person wishing to be the Executive Mansion next occupant is Mr. Beninoi Urey, a former confidant of war crime convict Charles Taylor. Mr Urey is the former Commissioner of Liberia’s maritime program and financial hander of the former dictator and despot, Charles Taylor and is known to be the richest person in the country. Since publicly revealing interest to run for President in the 2017 elections the Liberian political climate has become fiery and some Liberians abroad in the United States has taken his Presidential ambition as a lightening rod.
The U N removed Mr. Urey from the travel ban list recently, a sanction put on him for dealing in arms with the world’s infamous ‘merchant of death’, the Russian arms dealer, Viktor Bout , trafficking arms and breaking the UN arms embargo on Liberia.
Mr Urey, Liberia’s wealthiest man, depicted as ‘Goldfinger’, breathed a fresh air when the UN travel ban was lifted on him but his troubles are all not over neither could he travel where ever country he desires. The former maritime chief and confidant of war crime convict, former President Charles Taylor has another travel huddle still on his plate, and that is his trouble with the United States government.
The United States Treasury Department in 2005 listed Mr Benoni Urey as ‘Specially Designated Individual’ for his dealings with Taylor, a characterization which makes it illegal for U S citizens and business with whom to conduct business, ultimately making it a crime for any US citizen or person within its territory and business found in violation, the Coalition of International Justice 2005 report reveals.
According to the report, Mr Urey was put on the U S Treasury list April 26, 2005 been associate of Viktor Bout as all of Bout’s businesses in the United States, associates and assets were frozen. The Treasury Department also blocked Mr Urey from Selling his house in Maryland for US$1 million after it got the information about the sale.
More revelation from the report found Mr Urey to have been the ‘primary liaison for the illegal purchase of weapons from the Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout’ for Charles Taylor.
‘ Urey was the direct superior of Sanjivan Ruprah, a Kenyan national and partner of Bout. Ruprah was granted a Liberian diplomatic passport under the name of Samir M. Nasr. The passport identifies him as Deputy Commissioner of Maritime Affairs.28 Ruprah also served as .Global Civil Aviation Agent Worldwide, as authorized by Liberian Civil Aviation Regulatory Authority. There, in the late 1990s, he helped Bout register his four dozen aircraft in Liberia.29 The aircraft were largely used to break U.N. arms embargoes across Africa and in Afghanistan, where Bout flew for both the Northern Alliance and the Taliban from the late 1990s until 2001’, the CIJ’s report found.
The report also discovered ‘Urey was also working with Dutch national Gus Kouwenhoven, the director of Oriental Timber Corportation (OTC), and helped arrange multiple weapons shipments on OTC ships. Kouwenhoven, also on the U.N. travel ban list, was arrested on March 25, 2005, in Rotterdam, Holland, and charged with violating the U.N. arms embargo and war crimes’.
Excerpts from the CIJ report, the former maritime executive ‘Urey continues to direct Taylor enterprises such as Lone Star Communications, a primary generator of cash for Taylor in Nigeria. According to a source with direct knowledge of Liberian telecommunications, Lone Star Communications generated about $36 million a year in revenue of which one-third, $12 million, was Taylor’s share.
Such revenue figures appear high for a nation of 4 million people. But it is important to note that Liberia has no functioning, land-based telephone system. Therefore, all telecommunications within Liberia, as well as long-distance calls, are made on cellular telephones with the exception of a very small group of people that have access to satellite’.
The Coalitional of International Justice, a nonprofit institution supports the work of the International Criminal Court revealed that ‘Urey continues to direct Taylor enterprises such as Lone Star Communications, a primary generator of cash for Taylor when he was in Nigeria and Lone Star Communications generated about $36 million a year in revenue of which one-third, $12 million, was Taylor’s share’. extremely high revenue high for a nation of 4 million people’s’.
CIJ’s report uncovered an elaborate syndicate network of criminals, ranging from terrorists from Israel, Afghanistan, Iran, Hezbollah, and Mujahedeen into Liberia including long.
If Mr. Urey would want to travel to the United States now his United Nations ban is lifted, but not that fast,……. the Treasury Department will have to remove him from the ‘Specially Designated Individual’ list or else no United States Embassy will transact business with him least to say issuing him a visa.
The ‘merchant of death’, Viktor Bout is serving a 25 year sentence in United States for crimes ranging from terrorism, wanting to kill Americans among others. Mr. Bout was arrested in Thailand in 2009 attempting to sell arms to US undercover security officers who posed as the Columbian FARC rebels.
Gauss Kouwenhoven was also arrested in 2005 in Holland for breaking the UN arms embargo while to was the to be caught and spelled the beans on the syndicate network of arm trafficking.
See Full report and scope of the elaborate criminal network ran by Charles Taylor with Mr. Urey his primary purchaser and financial handler.
Click and read: CIJreport