WASHINGTON — Today, on International Anti-Corruption Day, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is targeting fifteen individuals and entities across several countries in Central America, Africa, and Europe. Today’s actions are taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets perpetrators of corruption and serious human rights abuse. Treasury’s actions today are complemented by the U.S. Department of State’s announcement of visa restrictions under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, targeting several corrupt current and former officials, as well as their immediate family members, and making them ineligible for entry into the United States.
“Corrupt acts take resources from citizens, undermine public trust, and threaten the progress of those who fight for democracy,” said Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen. “Treasury is committed to countering those who seek personal enrichment at the expense of the people who trust them to to serve — especially in the middle of a global pandemic. We are taking these actions today to expose and hold corrupt leaders accountable.”
International Anti-Corruption Day has been observed annually on December 9 since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) on October 31, 2003, to raise public awareness of the importance of anti-corruption initiatives in countering corruption and preventing it from undermining democratic institutions, eroding governmental stability, and slowing economic development. There are currently 189 parties to the UNCAC. Countering the transnational nature of corruption requires strong international partnerships and robust anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing regimes. Today’s actions reinforce the priority placed upon curbing corruption through strategic and regulatory action at the Summit for Democracy.
Corruption allows bad actors to abuse their authority and extract unfair gains at the expense of others. Fighting corruption is one of the pillars of the Summit, because it is a critical part of engendering the trust in institutions that undergirds democracies. Treasury is equipped with powerful tools to root out corruption by targeting the financial systems and flows that allow bad actors to profit from corruption, and Treasury is committed to using these tools to protect and strengthen democracy around the world. Today’s actions are one part of a series of actions taken to fight corruption in line with the U.S. Strategy on Countering Corruption released on Monday. Treasury’s actions to further this strategy by combating these illicit activities will make our economy — and the global economy — stronger, fairer, and safer from criminals and national security threats.
CORRUPTION IN LIBERIA: PRINCE YORMIE JOHNSON
Prince Yormie Johnson (Johnson) is a former warlord and current member of the Liberian Senate. He is the former Chairman of the Senate Committee on National Security, Defense, Intelligence, and Veteran Affairs. In 1990, he was responsible for the murder of former Liberian President Samuel Doe, and Johnson is named in Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Report as having committed atrocities during the country’s first civil war.
As a Senator, Johnson has been involved in pay-for-play funding with government ministries and organizations for personal enrichment. As part of the scheme, upon receiving funding from the Government of Liberia (GOL), the involved government ministries and organizations launder a portion of the funding for return to the involved participants. The pay-for-play funding scheme involves millions of U.S. dollars. Additionally, Johnson receives an undeserved salary from the GOL as a salaried intelligence “source” yet he does not provide any form of intelligence reporting to the GOL; Johnson is reportedly being paid in order to maintain domestic stability. Johnson has also offered the sale of votes in multiple Liberian elections in exchange for money.
Johnson is designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for being a foreign person who is a current or former government official, or a person acting for or on behalf of such an official, who is responsible for or complicit in, or has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.