MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — The U.S. government has sanctioned Liberia’s ex-warlord and current senator Prince Yormie Johnson for alleged corruption.
The sanctions against Johnson come under the Global Magnitsky Act, which authorizes the U.S. government to sanction those it sees as human rights offenders, freeze their assets, and ban them from entering the U.S.
Johnson was responsible for the slaying in 1990 of President Samuel Doe, who had been captured by his forces during the country’s 14-year civil war. Johnson sipped beer as he watched his men torture and mutilate Doe who begged in vain for mercy in a widely circulated video.
Now a trusted political ally of former international soccer star President George Weah, Johnson is accused in a 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,” a statement issued by the U.S. embassy 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.”
The scheme involves millions of dollars, according to the embassy statement.
Johnson also receives 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 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.
Johnson denounced the sanctions, telling The Associated Press on Friday that the U.S. statement of allegations against him “is vague” because it does not present “facts” that he had been involved in corruption.
He 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," said Johnson. “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.”
Travel sanctions were also imposed against Johnson's wife, Ameria Bovidee Johnson, and their child, Blessing Johnson.
The United States also imposed sanctions against Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of former Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, for allegedly “misappropriating public funds for her personal benefit” while she was chair of the state oil company. Other Angolans sanctioned include Leopoldo Fragoso do Nascimento, former head of communications for the president, and Manuel Helder Vieira Dias, former general, for their alleged involvement in “the embezzlement and misappropriation of billions of dollars in state funds for personal benefit.” Their wives and children were also put on the sanction list.
The U.S. also imposed sanctions on officials or former officials from Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Ukraine.
By JONATHAN PAYE-LAYLEH Associated Press
Subscribe to Closing Arguments
Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.