1 February 2013

Liberia: Finance's 500 Check 'Rogue' Still At Large

Two weeks now after the Ministry of Finance claimed that 500 pay checks had been stolen from one of its offices, no single arrest has been made, and its appears that police is doing no investigation into the matter.

Efforts by this paper to get an update on the saga from the Liberia National Police and the Ministry have failed.

Finance Ministry sources, wanting to remain anonymous, said no arrest has been made while Police spokesman Sam Collins said he had no knowledge of the investigation, and would check with authorities to respond in due course. "Investigation about missing checks and Finance? No, I am not aware about that, but I will check and get back to you," said when quizzed yesterday.

The Ministry's Communication Division said the issue was now the police's responsibility to investigate since the Ministry has provided the information. "It is now in the care of the police; they should be the one to ask; it happened to us, we gave out the information and we all want to know who did it. It is the police that should help us--you and me," an official said.

The more than 500 Pension Checks amount to at least US$12,000 of taxpayer's money. The Ministry has concealed the identity of the employee in whose care the checks were entrusted before they went missing, saying that said employee has been suspended.

"An employee (name withheld) who was in charge of the checks told senior management Friday evening that "some unknown persons reportedly walked into her office and made away with a bag containing the checks," a release issued Sunday, January 20, claimed.

The Ministry said "a stop payment request has been submitted to the Central Bank and other commercial Banks to ensure that checks with marching series numbers cannot be cashed."

"Authorities of the Ministry of Finance, including the internal security unit, have launched an immediate investigation into the incident. The authorities also notified the Ministry of Justice and the Liberia National Police to investigate the stolen checks incident," the Communication Division.

The Ministry of Finance has been a center of massive corruption in the recent past with checks and payroll scandals being the order of the day. Even after several years of efforts of transforming the system--from manual to computerize--the in many areas of operations, it is still be manipulated to facilitate corruption.

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