THAT SHADY DEAL WITH AFRICAN
MINERALS - HOW CAN A COUNTRY MORTGAGE ITS RESOURCES FOR 99 YEARS TO A COMPANY
RUN BY A MAN WITH A SHADY PAST - ONLY IN SIERRA LEONE
Mr Frank Timis or
Vasile Frank Timis to give his official name of African Minerals must be rubbing
his belly with glee, satisfied that he had succeeded in getting Parliament on
its side as well as journalists in Sierra Leone in securing a ninety nine year
deal that would allow him to exploit the country's iron ore reserves which he
boasts to be in the billions tonnage. Timis, the convicted drugs offender appear
to have fingered the country that suits his operations.
Put together a
government whose functionaries are hell-bent on making money for self and
associates at all costs, add a minister who is ready to sell his own soul to the
devil for money from whatever quarter, add a President who sees nothing wrong in
being unable to separate his private and government coffers and into this mix
put a Parliament made up of bleating goats ready to sing any song that lines
their pockets and finally coat the mixture with a nest of vipers passing off as
journalists whose pockets have ever-yawning chasms. And presto, you have the
right combination. Corruption that beggars belief!!!!
Frank Timis is in
good company in Sierra Leone where he has succeeded in getting one President
Ernest Bai Koroma in his pocket, ready and willing to dance with gusto and
energetic fervour to any tune he Vasile Frank
Timis comes up with as long as his personal accounts are
taken care of. Frank Timis must have watched and indeed studied the scenario in
Sierra Leone and when he made his first bid during the Tejan Kabbah reign must
have been pleasantly surprised at just how cheap and ready policy makers in
Sierra Leone were ready to tow his chariot of corruption using the sweaty backs
of hapless Sierra Leoneans.
Again allow us to refer you to
this article brought to your attention on the
46th anniversary of the Bank of Sierra Leone, the country's banker of bankers
and again quote what one commentator stated about deals made during the Siaka
Stevens and Joseph Saidu Momoh regimes with shady characters like Liat and Scipa.
....Momoh tried to regain control of Sierra
Leone’s diamond resources from Stevens’ clients. Creditors approved, noting
that the main obstacle to fighting corruption and servicing foreign debt in
Sierra Leone was the hold over diamond resources exercised by rogue state
officials and Stevens’ business clients (Reno 1998). Creditors recommended
inviting foreign firms to regularise or impose control over diamond mining
However, the “foreign firms”
that showed up were generally shady businessmen with criminal links. They
received generous diamond mining and other concessions in return for their
offers of “assistance”. LIAT appeared in 1987 with promises to finance and
build development projects in return for diamond mining concessions.
The firm’s chief was arrested in the US on fraud charges and extradited to
Israel to face additional charges. This ended LIAT’s Sierra Leone operations
SCIPA Finance appeared in 1989
with an offer to manage Sierra Leone’s diamond mines. SCIPA paid overdue
civil servants’ salaries and also allegedly paid a portion of Sierra Leone’s
arrears with conventional creditors, helping to put debt negotiations with
the IMF back on track in 1989 (Reno 1998). However, SCIPA was primarily
interested in purchasing Sierra Leone diamonds as part of a money laundering
operation. To dominate the market SCIPA cultivated a following among illicit
diamond operators, and gave gifts to Momoh’s allies and rivals alike (Reno
1998). SCIPA’s head was arrested for “economic sabotage” in 1989, thus
ending SCIPA’s operations (Reno 1998).
Visit the website of African minerals but don't be surprised not to find
details of the 99-year deal. Nothing about who benefits from such a massive
mortgage of the country's iron ore deposits, neither is there the details
one would expect to find on the website of a company that has bought the
souls of policy makers in Sierra Leone. Nothing, we say nothing as the
government has left it with Timis to decide whether to publish or not even
though Sierra Leone is a signatory to the Extractive Industries code of
practice, the EITI.
to crown the betrayal, the final nails in the coffin - Sierra Leoneans are
yet to find out what will remain of the country's Tonkolili iron ore
deposits after, let's say fifty years of exploitation. Nothing of the sort.
Nothing about how long it would take African Minerals to remove all that
iron ore from Tonkolili. And nothing about other minerals/ores that could be
lying beneath the earth in the vast areas mortgaged to Timis and his gang.
this is apart from other interest of Timis in precious minerals.
any Sierra Leonean about this deal and that person would find it difficult
to explain how a company can move from exploratory to exploitation rights in
one swift move with increased acreage added for good measure.
is a part of the story of the exploitation of Sierra Leone's natural
resources by a government that believes the only duty of care it should have
would be to self and associates as the ordinary Sierra Leonean continues to
wallow in poverty.
is the empire of Ernest Bai Koroma.
decide on their "independence" and their personal worth.