6 July 2010

Liberia: In U.S.$1.17 Million Case - Two Found Guilty

Two accused defendants in the Central Bank US$1.17m Central Bank money transfer fraud case, Messrs Mars Jusu Passewe and Richard Passewe have been found guilty by Criminal Court "C" at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia

But defense lawyers who took exception to the verdict say they want the Director of Finance at the Central Bank, Charles Sirleaf Investigation.

"If the government of Liberia really wants to establish truthfulness in this case, let Charles Sirleaf be prosecuted," the lawyers said.

The defense lawyers, in a legal argument said given the nature of the US$1.175m transfer from the Central Bank to a private account in Ecobank, there was a serious need for those who master minded the criminal act to be prosecuted.

The defendants Mars Jusu Passewe, Richard Passewe and Gbotoe Peabody in their testimony and a voluntary statement accused President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's and son Director of Finance at the Central Bank, Charles Sirleaf of master minding the entire transfer transaction.

The defendants testified that the ID card used to withdraw from the private account in Ecobank was produced by Mr. Charles Sirleaf.

Base on these allegations made by the defendants, the defense lawyers said it was a complete injustice for the Ministry of Justice and National Security Agency not to even ask Mr. Sirleaf a question since he has been implicated in the matter.

The defense told the court and jury that the three men were falsely indicted and should be acquitted.

They asserted that the defendants were used by Mr. Sirleaf because they were vulnerable like any poor or hungry Liberian who wants to survive by all means.

The defense has also warned that the jury would be prosecuted for what "they called the untouchable."

On the other hand, the prosecution argued that carelessness on the part of the Central Bank which led to the transferred of the amount to a private account is not a crime.

Prosecution told the jury that the case has been proven and it wants the alleged perpetrator brought down guilty.

The three defendants were on trial for allegedly forging the signatures of President Sirleaf and three deputy ministers of the Ministry of Finance, which resulted in the subsequent transfer of the US$1.17m into a private account at Ecobank.

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