3 March 2019

Liberia: President Weah On Kroll Report - 'We All Knew Our Government Was Going to Be Vindicated'

Monrovia — President George Manneh Weah says his administration knew all along that it would be vindicated once investigation into the missing LD16 billion was completed.

Speaking to reporters Sunday upon his return from an official visit to Israel, President Weah hailed the United States government for its assistance in the probe and declared that his administration sought an independent because it had nothing to hide.

Said President Weah: "We wanted to show Liberians that we are transparent and the only way they could believe that is to get the international group to probe into this alleged LD16 billion missing which is of course we all know that our government was going to be vindicated, so we brought in the US embassy to help us and today, Kroll was able to give determination on what happen."

The US embassy, in October 2018 the U.S. Embassy, in response to a request to the international community from the Government of Liberia and Liberian civil society groups, began the process, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to commission an Independent Report by a firm with expertise in forensic investigations. The firm chosen was Kroll Associates Inc., (Kroll) a division of Duff & Phelps, LLC. Their mandate was to research matters stemming from allegations in the press that a container of new Liberian Dollar (LRD) banknotes had "gone missing" upon arrival in Liberia.

In a statement, the US embassy said upon the release of the report that Kroll's analysis of delivery documentation provided by the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) confirmed that new banknotes totaling LRD 15.506 billion were received into the CBL's reserve vaults but Kroll also found no information to support allegations that a container of banknotes went missing.

The report however raised concerns regarding the overall accuracy and completeness of the CBL's internal records and identified systemic and procedural weaknesses at the CBL, and identifies shortcomings in Liberia's fiscal and monetary management processes that are longstanding and continue to the present day.

The Kroll report also flagged a number of discrepancies in relation to "Mop-up" Exercise conducted by President Weah's Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT) Headed by Minister Samuel D. Tweh and Nathaniel Patray.

The report states: "The approach taken by the CBL to implement the USD Mop-Up exercise, whereby small Teams of bank personnel directly purchased LDR from local businesses and Foreign Exchange Bureaus in exchange for USD notes, created an enhanced level of risks with respect to: i) potential misappropriation of banknotes, ii) potential opportunity for money laundering and iii) potential execution of transactions with illegal businesses". Consequently, there is a risk that significant funds were unaccounted for by the CBL, and Kroll therefore recommends that this matter merits further understanding".

On his return Sunday, President Weah expressed the hope that Liberians are happy that there's no LD16 billion missing. "Whatever happen now - the findings, the other findings now - you know, try to get information a lot of things show up and a lot of the things that are coming up now we hope that the process will also be transparent and we will go through the due process and once everything is done, I hope there will be peace and there will be no more going to the streets and trying to rally for missing billions."

The President stressed the need for peace as he cautioned Liberians against rushing to conclusions. "So, again I told you to keep it peaceful and help our country to grow and I hope we all do the same because Liberia has suffered, it's time now to focus on building our economy but I'm glad that the process is transparent - and it will continue to be that way. I will ask all Liberians that going to the streets without information is wrong. I think you should get facts before you should get into what we call rioting."

The President heaped praise on the security apparatus for maintaining the peace. "They have done so well, they give you human rights to go to the street. Our government is here to promote peace."

Liberia

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