*See update below.
Global Witness today welcomed the establishment by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of a committee to investigate the proposed carbon credit deal between the country's Forest Development Authority (FDA) and UK-based Carbon Harvesting Corporation. This follows Global Witness' own investigation and the subsequent arrest of the CEO of Carbon Harvesting Corporation, Mike Foster, by the City of London Police.
Global Witness's Amy Barry said: "The investigation into the proposed Carbon Harvesting Corporation deal announced by President Johnson Sirleaf is an important first step. Liberia will need to be vigilant against corruption in order to ensure its natural resource wealth is managed sustainably and for the benefit of the wider population. Genuine political will and the space for civil society involvement will be essential to ensure transparency in future carbon-related projects and resource deals in general."
Global Witness had raised serious concerns about the proposed deal with CHC, highlighting the company's relative inexperience, the lack of consultation, and the inadequate safeguards and monitoring mechanisms. A fundamental gap in information regarding the viability of the project potentially exposed the Liberian government to massive financial losses of more than $2bn. The deal involved securing a 400,000 hectare forest carbon concession, around a fifth of Liberia's total forest area.
*Update 23 October 2015: On 22 October 2015 the Overseas Anti Corruption Unit of the City of London Police stated that in relation to their investigation into Carbon Harvesting Corporation and Michael Foster, evidence has proved unobtainable in a number of key respects. They have been advised that the evidence is insufficient to commence any prosecution for corruption and accordingly the suspects are being advised that no action will be taken against them.
Contact: Amy Barry on +44 2074925858 or +447980 664397
- The Liberian government issued a press release on June 5 announcing the investigation - it is available on the Executive Mansion website.
- The City of London Police issued a statement on June 3, announcing their investigation. This is available upon request from their press office.