21 September 2018

Liberia: Eugene Nagbe - 'I Did Not Resign'

Photo: Le Pays
President George Weah is reported to have asked the FBI in the U.S. to investigate claims of missing banknotes.

Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe has denied resigning his post, despite widespread rumors that he has tendered his resignation to President George Weah.

"I did not resign," Minister Nagbe told the Daily Observer in a text message, responding to request for confirmation. Some blogs and websites had already published articles saying that Mr. Nagbe submitted a letter of resignation to President Weah last week, a letter the President reportedly refused to accept.

Nagbe, who is the chief spokesman of the government, had earlier told the Voice of America (VOA) and some local media outlets that there were some levels of trivialities surrounding a total of L$16 billion that were imported into the country.

Earlier on Thursday, September 20, Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, describing Nagbe's assertion as irrelevant, told an OK FM phone-in program that "no money was missing from the government's coffers, contrary to claims by Minister Nagbe."

"The total money printed in Liberia for the past two years is L$15 billion. It is not possible to print L$16 billion. There is no money missing, but the media keeps saying that L$16 billion is missing," he said.

Minister Nagbe told the VOA Daybreak Africa that the current government was not in the loop (to furnish someone with sufficient relevant information and include them in the decision-making) on the money or the container.

According to Nagbe, in November 2017, the investigation determined and confirmed that a batch of banknotes was brought into the country -- just before President Weah assumed office.

"Now, when the president received information about these newly-printed banknotes, he sanctioned an investigation, which is being chaired by the Ministry of Justice, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), and other security apparatus. The idea is to understand how much money came into the country, how much was ordered, how much was printed, which country printed the money, and how did it affect the country's foreign exchange situation," he said.

"We can confirm that the money was brought through the Freeport of Monrovia and the Roberts International Airport and for now we can confirm that the amount was L$16 billion. An estimate of a little over US$60 million, as far as we are concerned from ongoing investigation, came in the two ports of entry," Minister Nagbe confirmed.

Minister Tweah also accused the media of misinforming the Liberian people, especially on the L$16 billion saga.

He further called on the public to listen to him regarding the missing money.

Sources say die-hard CDCians are of the opinion that Mr. Nagbe might still be loyal to former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and, therefore, will take her side in the current money saga.

"So they see Nagbe as a threat. That is why Tweah intentionally went on the air to condemn the information provided by Mr. Nagbe regarding the missing L$16 billion," a source told the Daily Observer.

Minister Tweah's position on the case may have led to the cancellation of the Government of Liberia's weekly press briefing, which takes place every Thursday at the Information Ministry.

According to information, officials at the Ministry of Information reportedly refused to welcome Finance Minister Tweah at the ministry yesterday to form part of its briefing.

Sources told this newspaper that Minister Tweah's direct condemnation of Minister Nagbe earlier yesterday led to the cancellation action, as junior ministers and staffers at the ministry considered it as an affront to the entity.

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