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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 May, 2005, 02:01 GMT 03:01 UK
Liberia's Taylor 'still active'
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor
Charles Taylor was a flamboyant and controversial leader
Liberia's exiled former leader Charles Taylor is still funding armed groups and political parties across West Africa, a US pressure group alleges.

The Coalition for International Justice says he is running a complex financial empire, despite the fact he is under effective house arrest in Nigeria.

The group calls on Nigeria to hand Mr Taylor over to the United Nations war crimes tribunal in Sierra Leone.

Nigeria offered asylum on the basis he ended his role in regional politics.

The CIJ claims diplomats from the Liberian embassy in Lagos have been acting as his agents, and that Mr Taylor has been using the help of visitors to circumvent United Nations travel restrictions.

The Liberian information minister, C William Allen, told the BBC he was not personally aware of any evidence that Mr Taylor was trying to influence Liberian politics, but said any diplomats found helping him would be dismissed.

'Bewildering network'

The CIJ has produced a detailed report on how Mr Taylor got and spent his money, both in and out of office, saying that millions of dollars have passed through his hands over the years.

The money came from diamonds, timber and a whole range of businesses, including Liberia's first mobile phone company, the group says.

Report author Douglas Farah claims to have found a bewildering network of agents, front men and interlocking companies, which allowed Mr Taylor to make money and spend it buying influence and funding armed conflict in Liberia and neighbouring countries.

The BBC's foreign affairs analyst Liz Blunt says much of this is past history - although not previously laid bare in so much detail - and most of those named are already subject to UN travel bans because of their activities.

'Diplomatic agents'

The new allegations are about what Mr Taylor has been doing since he has been in exile in Calabar in south-east Nigeria our correspondent says.

Sierra Leone's war crimes tribunal
Sierra Leone's war crimes tribunal wants Mr Taylor to face justice

The report says that in the government guest house where he lives he has free access to the telephone and internet and is free to receive visitors.

It suggests that diplomats from the Liberian embassy in Lagos act as his agents.

Large sums of money from his investments in Liberia and overseas are brought to him in cash by visitors, the report alleges.

They are often the wives or female relatives of his associates who are not affected by UN travel restrictions, the reports says.

Our correspondent says that even more controversial are the allegations about how he is spending his wealth.

The report draws on information given to the UN-backed court for Sierra Leone to suggest that Mr Taylor is thought to be funding armed groups through some of his old commanders.

He is thought to be giving money to at least half the parties which will contest this year's elections in Liberia, the report says.


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