Crane Currency, a currency printing company operating in Sweden, that is at the center of the unaccounted LD$2.645 billion that involved current and past officials of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), may likely not appear for the start of the case very soon, due to the inability of the government to provide money to have Criminal Court 'C' cover the costs of travel expenses to serve the defendant with the summon and the writ of arrest.
But, with opening of the Criminal Courts on today, Mary 13, including court 'C', where the case is expected to be heard; and with Crane Currency not having been served with the writ of arrest and summon, there is no possibility for now to ensure that Crane is brought under the jurisdiction of the court to exonerate itself from its alleged involvement into the missing LD$2.645 billion of which the company had been indicted on criminal charges.
Milton Weeks, former Governor of the Central Bank; Charles Sirleaf, Deputy Governor for Operations; Hagba Dorbor, director of banking; Richard H. Walker and Joseph Dennis, have all been served with the writ and arrest and indictment in which they face charges of economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy and Misuse of Public Money, Property or Records and Illegal Disbursement and Expenditure of Public Money.
Similar charges are also being levied against the Crane Currency.
The Presidential Investigation Team (PIT) that probed the company's involvement of the printing of the alleged missing US$16 billion claimed that Crane Currency received US$835,367.72 as kickback after it agreed to print excess Liberia dollar banknotes that amounted to LD$2,645,000,000, which was reported to have been infused into the Liberian market.
However up to the present, there is no record to show that the court has served the writ of summon and arrest on any of officials of the Crane Currency.
A judicial source had hinted the Daily Observer about the reluctance of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to provide funding for the court's sheriff to travel to Sweden to serve the documents on the defendant, Crane Currency.
"Since we heard that Crane Currency was indicted and a writ of arrest was presented to our office to be served on them, we had not been able to get the necessary funding to facilitate the service of the documents on the defendant to ensure that they appear for the case," the source noted, adding: I don't think that the case will start during this court term, because Crane is the material witness and, not bringing them under our jurisdiction, it means the case may not be heard for now."
The source explained that the ministry has the enforcement power and it should have funded the costs of traveling for the court to serve the document on the defendant.
Immediately after news broke out about Crane Currency being indicted, a war of words ensued between the the company and the Ministry of Justice, with the company claiming that it has not been charged with any crime in Liberia and that, at all times, Crane has operated in full compliance with the law and rejects completely any allegation of wrongdoing.
Crane says it "fulfilled its contractual obligations as set out in two delivery contracts and two subsequent documented agreements between the CBL for Crane to deliver the finished banknotes, and every banknote delivered was properly invoiced and accounted for. Crane was paid in full the correct amount (and no more) as had been agreed with our Liberian customer for these contracted deliveries of banknotes, and there were no excess or improper payments made by the CBL or any other party.
"Crane challenges these allegations as strenuously as possible. In the spirit of openness and transparency, we have also shared all relevant evidence from within Crane with the authors of the Kroll and Presidential Investigation Team reports."
This, among other claims by Crane Currency, the Ministry of Justice categorically refutes. "Crane Currency's claims that it did not print and deliver excess Liberian Dollar Banknotes to the CBL is not supported by the facts, as contained in the Reports of the Presidential Investigation Tam (TIP) and Kroll Associates, Inc. (Kroll)," the Ministry says.
In a statement issued late Monday, April 1, the Ministry of Justice said: "To the contrary, Crane Currency and officials of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), both current and past, were charged and indicted on March 4, 2019 for Economic Sabotage, Criminal Conspiracy and Criminal Facilitation, in the printing of excess Liberian Dollar Banknotes.
"During the investigation by the Presidential Investigation Team (PIT), the airway and seaway bills, along with the packing lists, clearly established that Crane printed 18.6 billion Liberian dollar banknotes over and above the 15 billion Liberian dollar banknotes it was contracted to print.
"These claims by Crane Currency are totally without merit, not made in good faith, not supported by the records at the CBL and Crane Currency's own records, submitted to the PIT and Kroll.
"The Ministry of Justice wishes to emphasize that after receiving Crane Currency reaction to their Reports, both Kroll and PIT have stated that they stand by the Findings regarding the printing of excess Liberian dollar Banknotes by Crane Currency."
Right now, there is no document to establish that Crane Currency will be tired along with the CBL officials, if the matter were to start during the May Term of Court, a source told the Daily Observer.