Criminal Court ‘C’ Judge T. Ciapha Carey has dropped all Criminal Charges against the chairperson of the National Elections Commission Davidetta Brown Lassannah without prejudice to the state.
It can be recalled in December 2021 the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission drew upon an indictment against Davietta Brown Lansannah in her capacity as Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC) for alleged violations of the Code of Conduct for Public officials and others.
The special Grand Jury of Montserrado County returned the indictment dated December 2, 2021, against defendant Davidetta Brown Lansannah charging her with what it terms a Violation of the Code of Conduct for public officials, and predate offense to Money Laundering (Insider Trading and Market Manipulation).
A writ of arrest was issued for Madam Brown Lansannah on December 23, 2021, and she tendered a Criminal Appearance Bond on December 24, 2021, which was duly approved by the trial Judge and filed with the clerk of Criminal Court C.
After the Criminal Appearance Bond was sealed by the defense counsels, a regular notice of assignment dated February 17, 2021, the case was called for a pre-trial conference to be held on February 28, 2021.
During the Pre-Trial Conference, Defense then prayed the Court to order a Discovery Proceeding in which the plaintiff, the Republic of Liberia would be required to furnish the Defense with all the species of evidence on which the Plaintiff relies to prosecute Madam Brown.
The Court Application of the Defense and ordered the lawyers for the state to make available to the Defense copies of all the evidence to be used by the Plaintiff in the Trial.
Based on the evidence produced by prosecutors, the defense counsels used the evidence to file an eight (8) counts motion to dismiss the indictment.
In the motion, madam Brown’s lawyers argued that the LACC lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case, which is inside trading, and a Violation of the Code of Conduct as such, they cannot sue on behalf of the Republic of Liberia..
The NEC boss legal counsels further noted that the LACC did not have original jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute alleged violations of the Code of Conduct; but rather, the Act or legislation enacting the Code of Conduct specifically provides for the establishment of the ombudsman office has the authority to receive and investigate all complaints of acts of violation of the code of conduct.
Judge Carey in his ruling noted that Money Laundering is classified for punishment and graded as a first-degree felony; however, he observes that insider trading is listed as a predicate offense to Money Laundering but the court does not find a grading or classification of punishment for insider trading.
The Court further stated that predicate Offense to Money Laundering is not a title and cannot be a charge on its own, as it is classified as being “those original crimes that lead to the offense of money laundering.”
Judge Carey holds that he lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter and the matter involved, Insider Trading and the Code of Conduct.
The judge further stated that he is constrained by the law to grant the Motion to dismiss the indictment stated above.
The question of Jurisdiction
On the question of jurisdiction, the respondent/ plaintiff contended that Insider Trading is a Crime Under the Anti-Money Laundering Law which was passed into law in 2012, and as such can be prosecuted, and therefore this Court (Criminal Court ‘C’) has jurisdiction over the said matter.
Accordingly, “Criminal Court “C” was created to trial all cases of Theft and its related Offenses including violations of the Code of Conduct and therefore this Court Court “C” has the Jurisdiction over the said matter.
Meanwhile, the Judge ordered the proceedings to be abated and discontinued and thereby discharged the NEC boss from answering any further questions, noting that her Criminal appearance Bond is returned to her in full amount.
Reported by: G. Watson Richards