Liberia: 'Weeks, Sirleaf Violated Liberia's Penal Law'

The Central Bank of Liberia building.

Former CBL Executive Governor Milton Weeks, Deputy Governor Charles Sirleaf and Director of Banking Dorbor Hagba, are the first to be arrested, among many others pending, as named in the Presidential Investigation Team's (PIT) report.

The full report of the Presidential Investigation Team's (PIT), released on Friday, March 1, has accused former Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Governor, Milton Weeks, Deputy Charles Sirleaf and Dorbor Hagba violated the Penal Law of Liberia and are culpable for the disappearance of L$2,645,000,000.

Both Weeks and Sirleaf were also accused for the illegal disbursement and expenditure of public money, which is forbidden by section 15.82 of the Penal Law of Liberia.

The report further revealed that Weeks and Sirleaf operated outside the organic law that guides the printing of new banknotes.

According to the PIT report, Weeks and Sirleaf, in the discharge of their duties as Executive Governor and Deputy Governor for Operations of the CBL, respectively, were cognizant of their responsibilities to have ensured that proper enforcement and compliance with all provisions of the Constitution were met, most especially those relating to the printing of Liberian Dollar Bank Notes and minting of coins, as well as all provisions of the act establishing the CBL.

Moreover, they did not obtain the full authorization of the Legislature for the printing of L$10,000,000,000 banknotes resulting to the increased cost of US$10,555,587.34 for the printing of L$10,359,750,000 banknotes thereby violating article 34(d) of the Constitution, the act establishing the CBL as amended March 4, 2014 and section 3.5 (accountability) of the Code of Conduct for public officials and employees of government.

The report indicated that L$2,645,000,000 banknotes, which is the difference between the L$18,151,000,000 banknotes was discovered from the Packing List as the total amount of Liberian dollars banknotes printed and shipped to Liberia.

"And that of the L$15,506,000,000 banknotes reported by the CBL as the total amount printed, shipped and received by the CBL; said amount cannot be accounted for by Weeks and Sirleaf, in the discharge of their duties as Executive Governor and Deputy Governor for Operations of the CBL respectively, thereby violating the following provisions of the Penal Law," the report said.

The report also said the actions of Weeks and Sirleaf, in the discharge of their duties as Executive Governor and Deputy Governor for Operations of the CBL respectively, endorsed the printing of L$359,750,000 banknotes above the contracted amount of L$10,000,000,000 banknotes, thereby incurring extra US$433,898.14 without authorization from the Legislature, in violation of the law.

The PIT report said, "The actions of Richard H. Walker, Dorbor M. Hagba, and Joseph Dennis, (all of the CBL), in the discharge of their duties to ensure full receipt and accountability of the total and actual amount of Liberian dollars banknotes printed and received by the CBL, knowingly conspired with Weeks and Sirleaf to conceal the true nature of the total and actual amount of Liberian dollars banknotes printed and received by the CBL, by criminally doctoring/fixing reports understating the full and actual amount printed and received by the CBL, and are in violation of the laws and should be charged and prosecuted for criminal conspiracy, facilitation, accountability and tampering with public records under the law."

The report further said the action of CRANE AB SE-14782 Tumba, Sweden, a company duly contracted by the government through the CBL in two separate contracts to print the total of L$15,000,000,000 at the total cost of US$15,331,689.20, knowingly and willfully conspired with officials of the CBL to defraud the GOL, thereby ignoring the terms and conditions of the contract by printing L$18,151,000,000 in complete breach of the contract, and thereby incurring extra cost of US$835,367.72 to the GOL; is in violation of the law of Liberia.

Noting that given the scope of the limitations the investigative team encountered, it recommends that a forensic examination of foreign currency banknotes and foreign currency auction/exchange be conducted.

Given the many discrepancies noted in the manner in which the mop-up exercise was conducted in relation to the infusion of the US$25 Million into the Liberian economy; and the scope, time and financial resource limitations of the PIT-TC, the investigation team recommends that the TEMT and CBL put a HALT to the exercise, and that a forensic investigation of the entire mop-up exercise be conducted without any delay, the report said.

The PIT team revealed in their report that because many discrepancies were observed throughout the investigation relative to the operations of the CBL in executing its statutory mandate, there is a need to review the Standard Operational Procedures (SOP), banking supervision and internal controls of the CBL to curb the possibility of abuse of the money supply of the nation; and as well, enhance efficiency and productivity.

The report further recommended that to protect currency banknotes in reserve, the CBL should consider discontinuing the use of the Vault at the erstwhile National Housing and Savings Bank which does not have adequate security measures in place as there is no lighting nor CCTV, neither are there standard procedures to access the vault and, besides, there is the lack of proper sanitation and inadequate ventilation in the vault area.

Meanwhile, observers say that from the look of things, President Weah's campaign pledge to protect President Sirleaf's interests as his first priority has apparently fizzled out with the arrest and detention of her son Charles Sirleaf, which has happened under his watch. Former President Sirleaf, according to reliable sources, feels deeply offended by the action taken against her son and she appears more likely than not to exact revenge.

But just what form such revenge will take remains unclear at this stage, although there are speculations that she could fall back on her vast array of contacts and friends in high places around the world, some of who could bring enormous economic pressure to bear on this government. And given the dire straits in which the economy appears to have fallen into, there is no telling what the impact of such action could be.

For now, according to sources, President Sirleaf may just be in the early planning stages of her reaction to what is described as this latest assault against the dignity, integrity and pride of the Iron Lady.

Top Headlines: Liberia

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