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About US$3M Made From Planks Unaccounted For At FDA


Top: A poster showing former Managing Director Mike Doryen and his deputy Benjamin Plewon, Edward Kamara and chainsaw milling activities. The DayLight/Rebazar D. Forte

By Esau J. Farr

MONROVIA – Titus Buah was very excited about his new assignment as the supervisor for a checkpoint in Big Joe Town, Grand Bassa County. It was a busier, bigger and more beneficial assignment for a checkpoint contractor with the Forestry Development Authority (FDA).

But Big Joe Town was unlike his previous assignments. In Saclepea and Sanniquellie, Nimba; Belefanah, Bong; and Zwedru, Grand Gedeh, he sent fees he collected from plank dealers to a mobile money number assigned to the FDA. Now, he had to report to the FDA and Benjamin Plewon III, then Deputy Managing Director for Administration (DMDA).

“The DMDA himself called me to report the money.  He gave me seven different numbers I used to send the money on,” Buah said.

“I was required to produce L$50,000 from the first to the 15th of every month and another L$50,000 from the 16th to the end of the month,” Buah added without providing any evidence.

In the last six years, Buah and other checkpoint contractors collected an estimated US$2.95 million, according to records of the Liberia Chainsaw and Timber Dealers Union (LICSATDUN). The record shows that the amount was collected from five of the dozens of checkpoints countrywide, and did not include a US$120 plank businesses pay. 

But there is no known trace of how the FDA used the money—not in reports by the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), which collects the government’s revenue, or the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI), which publishes public payments.   

The last administration of the FDA reported US$2,500 and L$7 million from chainsaw milling for 2023, according to sources familiar with that report. That is a wide gap from the US$464,325 chainsaw milling generated last year, based on LICSATDUN’s records.

The Managing Director of the FDA Rudolph Merab did not respond to questions for comments nearly a month later.

‘Somehow embarrassing’   

The lack of accountability and transparency in the use of the funds bothers LICSATDUN, which has 250 registered members across the country.  

The union has exerted efforts in the last six years to formalize chainsaw milling, which contributes between US$1.4 and US$1.9 million annually to the government, according to a 2017 report. Though largely unregulated, chainsaw milling is the sole timber supplier in local markets. The report found the subsector values between US$30 million and US$41 million.

In 2019 the LRA opened a sub-office at FDA’s headquarters in Paynesville and started to collect US$0.60 on every plank transported.  However, the next year, the tax agency closed the facility after it became too costly to maintain, according to Kaihenneh Sengbeh, the LRA’s manager for communications, media and public affairs. Sengbeh said the facility rarely collected any taxes.

The Liberian government generates between US$1.4 million and US$1.9 million from chainsaw milling, according to a 2017 report. The DayLight/James Harding Giahyue

In the absence of the failed scheme, chainsaw millers continue to pay US$0.60 to the FDA, which manually issues them waybills or authorization to transport timber. This has fueled corruption and given rise to the trafficking of block-shaped timber commonly called kpokolo.

“If [the] LRA is involved, then we feel that this money is channeled through the government’s revenue,” said Julius Kamara, LICSATDUN’s president.

“It is somehow embarrassing to our members. If the FDA comes out to say that ‘You people are not paying a cent to government,’ the only [defense] we have is the waybills.”

Efforts to regulate chainsaw milling have been unsuccessful, leaving the subsector unaccountable more than two decades since it emerged.

He said the LRA and FDA were discussing the latter institution’s takeover of the chainsaw milling revenue but had not concluded. 

“Furthermore, [the] FDA is formulating several regulations,” Sengbeh told The DayLight. “When put into effect, [the chainsaw regulations] will allow LRA to better administer taxation within the subsector.”

The FDA has attempted to draft a chainsaw milling regulation on three occasions but has completed none. In 2011, the agency drafted the first regulation but could not enforce it. It tried again in 2019 but got the same result. Finally, it formulated the Chainsaw Milling Regulation in 2022. However, the government has yet to gazette it, a requirement for enforcement. 

The Forestry Development Authority does not regulate the chainsaw milling industry. The DayLight/James Harding Giahyue

Under the proposed 2022 regulation, the FDA will issue chainsaw milling permits and pay fees through a special, transparent channel.

‘In his bedroom’

Buah and other checkpoint contractors provided a likely insight into how the FDA likely misused chainsaw money in the last six years.

The DayLight had caught up with Buah after he appeared on Forest Hour on Okay FM when he and other contractors were agitating for compensation.

In the interview with The DayLight, Buah said on one Sunday morning in 2019 he reported L$50,000 in Plewon’s bedroom.

“It was the first time I was like a king sitting on a table because I [had] carried corrupt money,” Buah said. He added that “[Plewon] gave me L$10,000 and said, ‘Pay your way and go back.’” Plewon and Doryen did not respond to questions about their responses to this and other allegations in this story.

Buah said over the years, FDA checkpoints were shared among top managers of the agency. And checkpoint staff had to befriend the top managers—and, in some cases, their relatives—to be assigned and maintained at a given assignment.

Other checkpoint contractors—Benjamin Taryon of Maryland, Aaron Mulbah of Bong and Arthur Miatona of Grand Gedeh—corroborated Buah’s account.  

Up: Former Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority Mike Doryen. Here: Former Deputy Managing Director Benjamin Plewon

For instance, “Managing Director [Mike Doryen] [had] checkpoints like (Klay and Ganta) under his control that [made] report to him monthly,” Taryon said. “The Deputy Managing Director [Benjamin Plewon] as well and Edward Kamara.” Edward Kamara did not reply to questions in a hard-copy letter and an email. Nearly a month after he received the communication, he emailed this reporter, asking him to instead write Merab, whom the reporter had already written.

Allegations of the FDA’s misuse of chainsaw fees first appeared in 2020. A FrontPage Africa investigation alleged that the FDA was collecting hundreds of thousands of Liberian Dollars but was not depositing the same into the government’s revenue. For instance, more than half a million Liberian Dollars was generated by Klay Checkpoint alone in Bomi for January.

The investigation also alleged that Doryen and Plewon wrangled over the checkpoint funds.    

“The top hierarchy at the FDA [has] been mismanaging this money and diverting it to their personal use instead of depositing into government’s revenue account,” FrontPage quoted an anonymous source.

Doryen denied the allegation at the time. He accused the sources FrontPage Africa cited of wanting “to continue benefiting from the spoiled system.”

‘Campaign money’

Edward Kamara has been accused of pocketing fees collected from chainsaw milling activities countrywide. The DayLight/James Harding Giahyue

Buah, Taryon, and another checkpoint contractor Aaron Mulbah said Edward Kamara invited checkpoint contractors to a meeting in Paynesville ahead of last year’s elections.    

“Edward Kamara informed checkpoint staff and supervisors to work harder because the money they were about to generate was for campaign use,” Taryon said. Checkpoints were tasked in line with their monthly capabilities, Taryon and Miatona added.

“I don’t think that money was used for campaign purposes. The [managers] themselves used that money. It was just a strategy,” said Taryon, saying the money was hand-delivered, not paid via mobile money.  

The checkpoint staffers were not just mere pawns in the scheme. They were involved in corruption, according to Buah.  He admitted that he pocketed checkpoint fees for several years. He singlehandedly built the FDA’s sub-office in Belefanah at the cost of US$6,400, sharing pictures of the building with The DayLight.

“I had to do one or two corrupt practices [to survive],” Buah said.  

In November last year, Buah appeared on Forest Hour on Okay FM, saying he was open to an audit.

“My challenge I will give the incoming government is before you take a seat in the FDA, please audit us. I am included…and the audit must start with me,” Buah said.

Buah furthered: “Please audit me to get the right things done at the FDA checkpoint.” (Merab has spoken about a payroll audit, not chainsaw milling or other areas)

As of January, the FDA owed checkpoint staff 22 months arrears, summing up to more than L$2 million (US$103,000), based on The DayLight’s calculation.

The story was a production of the Community of Forest and Environmental Journalists of Liberia (CoFEJ).

Logging Company Paid US$1,000 Fine For Forgery in 2019, Document Reveals


Top: A drone shot of Kpelle Village, one of the communities affected by Akewa’s operations in the Gola Konneh Community Forest. The DayLight/James Harding Giahyue

By Emmanuel Sherman

MONROVIA – In 2019, Akewa Group of companies, a Nigerian firm operating in Margibi and Grand Bassa County at the time, forged another company’s document to acquire a new logging contract. The Liberia Revenue Authority investigated and found Akewa guilty of forgery. However, it remained unclear what punishment it took against the company.

Now, it has emerged Akewa paid a US$1,000 fine for falsifying a tax clearance of Tiger Quarry, a mining firm, according to the receipt of the payment. The DayLight had requested the document in a follow-up to an investigation report it published last year.

“The LRA professional ethics division (PED) conducted a full-scale investigation into the matter. The PED… recommended that Akewa Group of Companies pays the legitimate fine of US$1,000 in consonance with the Liberia Revenue Law,” said Kaihenneh Sengbeh, LRA’s head of communications.  Akewa made the payment on April 16, roughly one month after the scandal. The receipt categorizes the payment under “fraudulent clearance” penalty.

Akewa had presented the fake document to acquire the Gola Konneh Community Forest, a 49,179-hectare of forestland in the Gola Konneh District of Grand Cape Mount County.

Akewa Group of Companies paid a US$1,000 fine for forging a tax clearance belonging to another company.

The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) approved Akewa’s bid, breaking Liberian laws, including the Regulation on Bidder Qualifications. It bars a company or its affiliate who has been convicted or penalized in the last five years over forgery, bribery and other morality-related offenses.

FDA Managing Director Mike Doryen wrongly justified the agency’s decision in an interview with The DayLight mid-last year. “We prevented Akewa from doing further business until they could provide [their] tax clearance. They rectified it and they paid a fine and that’s how we resumed business with them,” Doryen said at the time.

Liberian laws require harsh punishments for forgery. Under the National Forestry Reform Law, a person faces a 12-month prison term for the offense or a US$10,000 fine, or both. That person faces up to five years in prison under the Penal Code for lying under oath.  

Akewa is one of the forestry’s most delinquent companies. In 2012, Akewa participated in the Private Use Permit (PUP) Scandal. The FDA awarded an estimated 2.5 million hectares of forestlands to fraudulent logging companies in forestry’s biggest postwar scandal. It had received a contract meant for only Liberians three years earlier.

Akewa is currently in a settlement with Beyan Poye Community Forest of Margibi County for the cancellation of its contract with locals. Three Nigerians co-owned the company: Abigail Funke Odebunmi (60 percent) Kenneth Amazeika (20 percent) and Timothy Odebunmi (20 percent).

This story was a production of the Community of Forest and Environmental Journalists (CoFEJ).

Illegal Loggers Harvest ‘2,300’ Timbers in Gbarpolu Town


Top: A collage of pictures showing piles of squared timbers Sam Tomosiayah, an illegal logger, harvested in Darmo’s Town in Gbarpolu’s Bopolu District. The DayLight/James Harding Giahyue

By James Harding Giahyue

Editor’s Note: This story is a part of a series on an illegal logging activity commonly called “Kpokolo.”  

DARMO’S TOWN, Gbarpolu County – Nearly a dozen huge piles of heavy, squared timbers are covered with palm thatches on the side of a road that branches from the Suehn Mecca-Bopolu highway. More, smaller piles are scattered in the forest here.

The woods are actually the products of a logging agreement between a Liberian-Indian company named Raytech International and the people of Darmo’s Town in Gbarpolu’s Bopolu District.

But unlike in a legal logging deal, the company and community did not obtain any rights to sign the deal. The Forestry Development Authority (FDA)—at least—did not officially authorize it. It is part of an illicit logging operation called “kpokolo” that involves shaping the woods like boxes to fit neatly in containers and smuggled out of the country.

Called block wood by the FDA, kpokolo operation thrived in plain sight for years until an apparent ban on the illicit activity in the third quarter of last year. It had become one of the most common forestry violations, particularly in the last three or four years. It harnessed the tide of political neglect in rural communities, the legacies of failed logging contracts, and the ineffectiveness and involvement of the FDA.

In Darmo’s Town, it all started during the rainy season in 2021 when a man on a motorcycle visited the area. Sam Tumosiayah, an agent of Raytech, asked chiefs and elders to grant him access to the forest there. Tumosiayah had established the company in January of that year, according to its article of incorporation.

A pile of squared timbers Sam Tomosiayah, an illegal logger, harvested in Darmo’s Town in Gbarpolu’s Bopolu District. The DayLight/James Harding Giahyue

In exchange, Tumosiayah, a resident of Somalia Drive in Monrovia, promised the townspeople to repair a major bridge leading in the area among other things.

“Then they agreed to give the landowner their tolls directly. Even our town has received tolls,” said Mamadee Harris, a resident of Darmo’s Town, in an interview with The DayLight.

Peter Vah, the local manager of who Raytech, said the company paid villagers L$100 for each piece of kpokolo measuring six inches in height, 12 inches in width and seven feet in length (6X12X7).  He said the company had not discussed with locals about the 12X12X7 timbers it cut.

Vah said Raytech produced a total of 2,300 pieces of kpokolo in the one year and three months it has worked in Darmo’s Town. “The first batch of kpokolo we produced was 500 pieces and the next one 1,800,”  said Vah, who said his duties included finding trees and supervising the harvesting.  “Nothing has been sold. Some are in the bush, and others in Monrovia.” The DayLight could not independently verify Vah’s figures.

In a mobile interview with The DayLight, Tumosiayah lied that the company had only cut 150 kpokolo in Darmo’s Town. He then diverted from the issue after this reporter presented proof the newspaper had gathered on Raytech’s operation.

Sam Tumosiayah is a representative of Raytech, an illegal logging company that operates in Gbarpolu County.  Facebook/Sam Tumosiayah

Legal Documents

The FDA may have banned kpokolo operations in the third quarter of last year as pressure mounted on the agency to stamp out illegal logging, according to some of the illegal loggers and rangers at a number of FDA checkpoints. Kpokolo first appeared in the news in September last year.

Tumosiayah said he and other kpokolo loggers were appealing to the FDA to lift the ban to allow them to sell thousands of kpokolo left in various forests across the country. “Our business on the market is not going like before. We are catching some difficulties,” he said.  

Tumosiayah thinks his kpokolo operation is legal because his business is registered and pays taxes. “Some people are cheating and defrauding the Liberian government,” he said. “But if you have legal documents to do X,Y,Z, the government will say, ‘Yes, this is a Liberian person.’”

Tumosiayah’s thoughts are not backed by law, as a company needs more than an article of incorporation and a business registration certificate to do logging. It must show the capacity to do logging, sign a contract, conduct an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA), produce forest management plans, and obtain a harvesting certificate. There are also standards for harvest, export and communities’ benefits.

Kpokolo operators such as Raytech International, have harnessed the tide of neglect by successive Liberian governments of rural communities and the failed logging contracts across the country, coupled with the complicity of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) amid enormous forestry violations. The DayLight/James Harding Giahyue  

That aside, there are other issues with Raytech’s papers that further expose its forestry violations.  Its article of incorporation only lists Savid Muhammed Kutty (40 percent) and Jilt Joseph (10 percent) as two of its three shareholders. The third shareholder, however, is omitted. Based on its tax-payment history, both men are foreign nationals but the company’s business registration certificate identifies it only as Liberian-owned. And Raytech amended its article of incorporation in Oct last year, according to the tax-payment record. Its new legal documents are not registered at the Liberia Business Registry as of last month and do not reflect the amendment. That is a violation of the Business Association Act, which requires firms to register changes to their legal papers.  

Between June 2, 2021 and January 25 this year, Raytech brought in nine foreign nationals into the country, three of them twice, according to the company’s tax payment records. It made no payments for work permits, despite showing Kutty, Joseph and three of their colleagues obtained non-ECOWAS resident permits at least once. The other three men are Sijomon Verghese, Manilal Sasi and Sinojin Augustine.

In Liberia, shareholding or beneficial ownership, work permit and resident status are crucial to things such as taxes, business rights and logging eligibility. Kutty did not return queries via WhatsApp for comments. Joseph said he was no longer a shareholder in the company, without providing any proof.

Piles of kpokolo Raytech harvested, like this one, are scattered in the forest in Darmo’s Town, Gbarpolu County. The DayLight/James Harding Giahyue

In our phone interview, Tumusiayah claimed that he was Raytech’s majority shareholder and did not know of the omission. He further claimed that he had gone to the business registry to check the documents and would call The DayLight.  However, efforts to conduct an in-person interview with him did not succeed, and he did not return further calls.

The Managing Director of the FDA Mike Doryen did not reply to an emailed inquiry on the status of kpokolo operations countrywide. However, addressing delegates at a recent forest and climate change forum in Monrovia, Doryen blamed communities for widespread illegal activities. 

“These communities are undermining our efforts to deal with violations,” he said. “People go in the communities and take money from other people to harvest and transport timber to town, harvesting double-board foot outside what is required by law, it is illegal logging,” Doryen added.

While there is plenty of evidence that backs Doryen’s comments, the FDA itself has benefited from the unlawful activities. It collected fees from kpokolo operators for years but there are no records that they remitted them into the government’s coffers. An investigation by The DayLight last month revealed a number of receipts the FDA issued an illegal logger in Ganta, Nimba County. They matched other kpokolo receipts obtained so far. Doryen did not respond to a list of questions at the time.

FDA Managers Issue Illegal Timber Export Permits


Top: The headquarters of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) in Whein Town, Paynesville. The DayLight/James Harding Giahyue

By James Harding Giahyue

WHEIN TOWN, Paynesville – The Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) Mike Doryen and top managers of the agency award export permits to logging companies outside of the legal channel for the exportation of timber, documents obtained by The DayLight have revealed.

By the National Forestry Reform Law, all export permits and certificates of origin must be “accurately enrolled” in a log-tracking or chain-of-custody system known as LiberTrace. Under the law, granting access to forest resources that breaks any provision of the law constitutes economic sabotage.  

But Doryen and other top managers awarded Rosemart Inc., a Liberian-owned company, and Porgal Enterprise Inc., an Ivorian-owned firm, a certificate of origin and export permits that are not registered in the official log-tracking system.

Rosemart used the illegal permit and sold 520 teak logs, expensive, durable woods used for construction, shipbuilding and the making of AK-47 rifles. Rosemart was selling the logs for US$26,588, according to the illegal document.

Porgal’s illegal papers were tracked down in Cote d’Ivoire.

The other managers who signed the illegal permits are Joseph Tally, Doryen’s deputy for operations; Edward Kamara, the manager for forest products marketing and revenue forecast; and Jerry Yonmah, the former technical manager for the agency’s commercial department.

FDA’s legality verification department confirmed it did not issue the documents, which, of course, do not match the ones generated by the chain of custody system. Permits issued by the system carry barcodes and other markings absent on the ones awarded to Rosemart and Porgal, and are free of human errors. That standard is a crucial part of Liberia’s Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union (EU) for the trade of legal and sustainable timber.

“I have no idea what [those permits are],” said Gertrude Nyaley, the technical manager for the department. “What I know is that all woods and wood products must be exported [through] the LiberTrace system. Anything shipment of timber or timber products outside the chain-of-custody system is illegal.”

Receipts of the transactions and review of official payment records of both companies show Rosemart and Porgal did not pay the fees for the permits to the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), as mandated by law.

The permits undermine the forestry objectives of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development to increase the sector’s contribution to the Liberian economy. It aims to increase forestry revenue from nine  to 12 percent by next year. However, logging contributed US$9.2 million to revenues in the 2020-2021 fiscal year—when the illegal permits were awarded—the LEITI reported. That was only a tenth of the country’s revenue from extractive industries for that period.   

Mike Doryen has issued export permits for companies to ship logs outside of the legal system. The DayLight/James Harding Giahyue

Porgal denied any wrongdoing, and Rosemart refused to comment on the matter.

Doryen, Kamara and Yonmah did not respond to our emailed questions posed to them.

Talley claimed he and the other officials acted in line with forestry legal frameworks.

Errors and Inconsistencies

Rosemart’s permits were issued in quick succession.  It paid the so-called export fees on December 23, 2020.  That same day Doryen acknowledged the payment of US$1,430  for “abandoned” teak logs with a total volume of 88.625 cubic meters from a forest in Kpatuo, Nimba County. The company then received a certificate of origin, which tells a prospective buyer where the logs come from. Then later that day, it was awarded the export permit.

“This export permit is valid upon attestation by the Managing Director/FDA or his designate and is for a single shipment,” Doryen’s letter read.

“You are further requested to work closely with the relevant government agencies, including FDA forest law enforcement, Liberia Revenue Authority/Customs & Excise, [National Port Authority] and [Ministry of Finance and Development Planning] agents who will monitor and supervise the process,” it added.  

Chain-of-custody legality aside, Doryen’s awarding of Rosemart a permit to export the supposed abandoned logs was also unlawful. Unattended logs can be exported only if the FDA publicly declares them abandoned and seeks a court order for an auction. There has been no such petition at the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court in Sanniquillie or anywhere since the Regulation on Abandoned Logs, Timber and Timber Products was created in 2017. Up to press time, local radio stations had no records of notices of abandoned logs and auctions as mandated by the regulation.

Doryen’s claim in the certificate of origin that the woods were “sourced from several community suppliers, especially farmers around the country and as such there is no specific origin of production/collection” is not factual. Pictures we obtained from a source familiar with the illegal harvesting show some of the teak logs and their stumps in Kpaytuo Plantation deep in the Saclepea region. A stump is the portion of the tree that remains in the ground after harvesting.

There were also a number of inconsistencies in Rosemart’s documents.

Doryen’s letter to the company and the certificate of origin listed Turkey as the destination of the logs but that changed to India on the export permit, despite all documents being written on the same day. Indusina Exim LLP, the Indian firm named on the export permit, did not return queries for comments on the deal.   

It appeared the permit, certificate and letter were copied and pasted from old ones, with the authorities retaining previous validity periods in new ones. The actual export permit was issued on December 23, 2020, but reversely valid up to February 21, 2020. Doryen’s letter to Rosemart—meant to reinforce the permit—was backwardly valid from January 30 to March 15, 2019. The validity period of the letter was 45 days and the permit 60.

The documents misspelled Jerry Yonmah’s Surname as “Yormah” yet he signed them. Yonmah alongside other staff was suspended earlier this year over his alleged role in granting some logging companies trees above their annual harvesting limits.  He was subsequently replaced as technical manager of the commercial department.

It was unclear where the money Rosemart paid the FDA went. The so-called permit fees went to the FDA’s account at the United Bank for Africa, according to Doryen’s letter. Rosemart paid another US$1,335  for export and another wood-related fee. But its tax history only reflects a US$664.70 payment for forest products, which was made on February 20 last year. It was also blurry whether the company paid land rental and other fees as mandated by law. 

There were indications Rosemart had traded illegally sourced logs more than once. The firm is not named in any of the reports of the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI). It was established in 2014, and villagers adjacent to the Kpatuo plantation said it had operated the forest before 2020. The Commissioner of Kpaytuo Township Adolphus Kpangar, said Rosemart has an agreement with locals wherein it pays US$15,000 for a certain quantity of logs, adding they had had three transactions. Rosemart has transacted between US$1 million and US$2.5 million annual sales volume on the Trade Key alone,  according to the Saudi Arabia-based e-commerce platform. The company also deals in general merchandise, though.

The FDA did not grant our request for Rosemart’s logging contract, a violation of our right of access to such public information, guaranteed under the National Forest Reform Law and the Freedom of Information Act.  

Rose Yancy Adikwu, Rosemart’s co-owner and CEO, turned down an interview with The DayLight. Adikwu had promised to grant us the interview but backed off as soon as we shared copies of the permits. Further efforts to persuade her proved futile.

Porgal’s Permit in Cote d’Ivoire

On January 11 this year,  Doryen and Kamara awarded Porgal Enterprise Inc. a one-year permit to purchase and export timber and timber products. This time around, only Doryen and Kamara signed the permit.

“This is to confirm that Porgal enterprise Inc. has met the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) annual timber buying and exporting registration requirements as a non-contract holder…,” the permit read.  

The illegal permit was awarded to an Ivorian wood company, Porgal Enterprise Inc.

Porgal paid US$1,000 for the permit but, like Rosemart,  the disbursement was not made to the LRA. Rather, it was paid to the FDA’s account at the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI), a receipt of the payment shows. The company’s taxpayment history also corroborates this. It only reflects disbursements for business registration, resident permit and other fees, not the export permit.  

Earlier this year, Ivoirian authorities reached out to the FDA to inquire about Porgal’s permit and other documents relating to timber presumed destined for Burkina Faso or Mali, according to a communication between forestry personnel of the two countries, seen by The DayLight.    

Amadou Barry, the Ivorian national who owns Porgal denied any wrongdoing, blaming apparent imposters. “I don’t know anything about fraud,” Barry said in a WhatsApp chat. He said he had been quizzed by FDA rangers on this issue.

“We did not buy wood from Liberia, so we are not related to this case,” added Hamado Ouedraogo, a representative of Wend-Noura International, Porgal’s Ivorian partner. Both companies had signed a contract to export timber from Liberia barely a week before the FDA awarded Porgal the illegal permit, the contract seen by The DayLight shows.

Tally, FDA’s deputy managing director for operations, falsely claimed that the permits did not have to be awarded through the chain of custody system.

“Within the next few weeks, all necessary information to have the public adequately knowledgeable on the issuance of [the] export permit will be published,” Tally said in an emailed reply to The DayLight. “We will inform the general public on a regular or periodic basis… for better understanding as relating to your concerns.”

Gerald Koinyeneh contributed to this report.

The story was a production of the Community of Forest and Environmental Journalists of Liberia (CoFEJ).