Controversial Nimba County Senator Johnson has denounced his recently imposed sanctions by stating that the U.S. statement of allegations against him is vague because it does not present facts that he had been involved in corruption.
Senator Johnson therefore said he is waiting for a more detailed explanation and challenged the U.S. government to give details about which specific administrations in Liberia had paid him corrupt fees.
“What we want is the facts. You can accuse people, but the evidence is what is important. Coming from Uncle Sam’s website — obviously the most powerful nation on earth whose footprint we follow democratically — so you don’t just destroy people’s name by accusing them without facts,” Senator Johnson argued.
His comments were in response to recent pronouncement by the United States Embassy in Liberia that the U.S. would put sanctions on him based on accusation of his involvement in a pay-for-play funding scheme.
A statement from the U.S. Treasury Department said Senator Johnson’s scheme involved millions of U.S. dollars meant for the Liberian government but used for personal enrichment.
The Global Magnitsky Act says the U.S. can put sanctions on anyone it sees as a human rights violator. This includes freezing their assets and banning them from entering the country.
In 1990, during Liberia’s 14-year civil war, Senator Johnson’s forces captured then President Samuel Kanyon Doe, torturing and killing him while filming the incident. Soon after, they dumped Doe’s body outside a medical clinic.
He is also the former chairman of the Senate Committee on National Security, Defense, Intelligence and Veteran Affairs.
“Corrupt acts take resources from citizens, undermine public trust and threaten the progress of those who fight for democracy,” U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen said in the statement.
“Treasury is committed to countering those who seek personal enrichment at the expense of the people who trust them to toserve — especially in the middle of a global pandemic. We are taking these actions today to expose and hold corrupt leaders accountable.”
Now a trusted political ally of President George Weah, Senator Johnson is accused in the U.S. Embassy statement of large-scale corruption.
“As a Senator, Johnson has been involved in pay-for-play funding with government ministries and organizations for personal enrichment,” the statement said.
“As part of the scheme, upon receiving funding from the government of Liberia, the involved government ministries and organizations launder a portion of the funding for return to the involved participants.”
Senator Johnson also stands accused of receiving an undeserved salary from the Liberian government as a salaried intelligence source, yet he does not provide any form of intelligence reporting, alleged the U.S. statement.
He is said to being paid in order to maintain domestic stability, according to the statement.
“Johnson has also offered the sale of votes in multiple Liberian elections in exchange for money,” it said.