Former Grand Bassa Senator, Gbezohngar Findley Sues Arcelor Mittal Over Default in Company’s Agreement Over a Decade Ago

Former Senate Pro Temp Milton Gbehzongar Findley has dragged concession group ArcelorMittal to court for alleged failure to adhere to most of the provisions within its mineral agreement signed with the government of Liberia.

Mr. Findley, immediate past Foreign Minister of Liberia, has therefore hired the services of prominent criminal lawyer, Cllr. Arthur Johnson, to fight the matter in court.

The lawsuit comes appears as a shock as the Government of Liberia and ArcelorMittal, the world’s leading steel company, recently signed an amendment to the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) to pave the way for the expansion of the company’s mining and logistics operations in Liberia.

According to Mr. Findley, who is a prominent son of Grand Bassa County, ArcelorMittal should meet up with its obligations, including payment of social development funds, issues of production not met and revenues be paid to the Government of Liberia.

“We want others to join us in this fight as there are new laws that ArcelorMittal needs to incorporate,” Findley stated.

As far as the former Grand Bassa County Senator is concerned, his step of legal action against the steel giant is in the interest of the people and indicated how deeply troubled he is as a result of current demolition exercise against housing units in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County amidst public outcries.

“Let me clarify that we are not asking the company to leave, but what prompted this is the breaking down of structured buildings,” he said.

“They are not putting concrete structures back. When they leave, what will be left behind? We will therefore not sit and allow this to happen,” he stressed.

Former Pro Temp Findley made it known that his legal action is being filed in the confines of the existing agreement and not the most recent one as it stills requires legislative action.

“I am a licensed politician and so I am not going to shy away from the fact, however, this lawsuit is targeting no political dividend,” he clarified further.

Meanwhile, Findley frowned on the company for alleged failure to hire Liberians in senior management positions as if there are no qualified citizens. Notwithstanding, he pointed out that there are many qualified Liberians in the diaspora that could be employed by the company and paid well.

For his part, Findley’s legal counsel, Cllr. Arthur Johnson accused ArcelorMittal of failing to implement specific provisions in its agreement, including the building of health facilities with trained staff and modern equipment.

“Liberia has laws that hold ArcelorMittal accountable but the company has defiantly and vehemently failed to follow these provisions. Therefore, the court is under obligation to speak on this matter. This is not a political issue but about law,” Cllr. Johnson argued.

“Findley is not an ordinary Liberian and I know he will get redress. The first step is to start with the jurisdiction of Liberia, while the next step is to go to the ECOWAS Court or even to America and Europe,” the lawyer mentioned.

In its most recent agreement, ArcelorMittal says its expansion project includes the construction of a new concentration plant and the substantial expansion of mining operations, with the first concentrate expected in late 2023, ramping up to 15 million tonnes per annum (mtpa).

Under the agreement, the company said it will have reservation for expansion for at least up to 30mt. It added that other users may be allowed to invest for additional rail capacity.

As the largest foreign investor in Liberia, ArcelorMittal Liberia claims to have invested over $1.7 billion in the country over the past 15 years.

The company promised that more than 2000 jobs are expected to be created during the construction phase, with Liberians envisaged to fill the majority of the roles created.

ArcelorMittal boasts of operating a Vocational Training Centre and provides two-year residential certificate training in mechanical and electrical trades.

As part of the expansion, ArcelorMittal Liberia noted that it has also launched a training and development program for high potential Liberian employees who will gain on the job experience and knowledge in ArcelorMittal Mining operations globally.

The employees, it stated, will receive advanced training in the fields of mining production and operation optimization, plant maintenance, planning and execution, and plant electrical operation systems.

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