4 March 2019

Liberia: Son of Former Liberia President Charged in Missing Billions Saga

The son of Liberia's former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has been charged over the disappearance of 2 billion Liberian dollars in freshly printed banknotes.

Charles Sirleaf appeared at the Monrovia City court today alongside Milton Weeks, the former Central Bank Governor and, Banking Director Dorbor Hagba.

The three were charged with a string of offences, including criminal conspiracy, economic sabotage and misuse of public money.

Last year, parallel investigations were launched by both Liberia and the United States following media reports in September that a container full of newly printed Liberian banknotes, worth more than US$100 million, had gone missing.

After months of investigation, business intelligence firm Kroll Associates Inc. released their findings last week, dismissing the suggestion that the banknotes simply went missing.

The report found that the Liberian government had approved the printing of new banknotes totaling five billion dollars, but that the central bank printed surplus.

The accused bank officials arrived at Monrovia City Court court in handcuffs with a large security escort.

According to the charge sheet, seen by RFI, defendant Charles Sirleaf, 61, and his accomplices Milton Weeks and Dorbor M. Hagba, including defendants Richard H. Walker and Joseph F. Dennis, currently at large, are criminally liable for two billion-six hundred forty five million (L$2,645,000,000) Liberian dollars in banknotes brought into the country which cannot be accounted for by them.

According to the charge sheet, Sirleaf admitted during police interrogation to signing the first contract for the consignment of new banknotes in 2016 with Swedish firm, Crane Currency.

He also said defendant Milton Weeks, former Bank Governor signed the 2017 contract.

"In view of the above, the investigation herewith resolves to charge defendant Charles Sirleaf... with the commission of the crime, economic sabotage, misuse of public money, property or records and theft and/or illegal disbursement and expenditure of public money, criminal conspiracy in violation of 15.80, 15.81, 15.82 and 10.4 of the revised penal law of Liberia," the charge sheet noted.

The accused were taken to Monrovia's Central Prison, otherwise known as South Beach, while their lawyers apply for their release on bail, pending the verdict.

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