Liberian maritime commissioner’s nomination withdrawn
Liberia's president has withdrawn the nomination of John Stewart as the country's commissioner of maritime affairs, and relieved Stewart of his post as deputy commissioner of the same agency.
According to the Web site of Liberia’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the appointment had previously been put on hold based on information that “Stewart is currently under investigation, facing multiple charges of financial improprieties and disbarment from the Office of the Bar Council in Washington, D.C., information Mr. Stewart did not divulge when he met with the president for an interview.”
Last week Stewart had held a press conference to deny any wrongdoing in filing cases involving clients in the United States.
The Liberian Broadcasting System reported that Stewart said he had filed cases close to a deadline that were changed by a court clerk, “which threw his cases back and affected his ability to meet the filing deadline.”
Despite that explanation, Liberia’s president decided to withdraw the nomination.
“The president is taking the decision in keeping with her desire to recruit not only qualified and competent individuals to government but individuals with qualities of honesty, accountability and transparency,” the statement on Johnson Sirleaf’s Web site said. “Stewart was not forthcoming during his interaction with the president on the charges levied against him. This, in our view, is an act of dishonesty, on the part of Councilor Stewart, which cannot go unchecked.”
According to the U.S. Maritime Administration, the Liberian ship registry is the world’s second largest, behind only Panama. In 2005, MarAd said it had 1,410 ships in its registry with aggregate capacity of 88.8 million dwt compared to Panama with 3,415 ships with 203.4 million dwt.