Liberia: Govt Blames Sirleaf, Weeks Hardship

Photo: Le Pays
Supreme Court
18 September 2019

Liberian prosecutors have pleaded with the court hearing a case regarding billions of Liberian dollars scandal not to have mercy on indicted Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) officials, saying the criminal syndicate that commenced at the bank in 2017 during unauthorized printing of the money has affected the economy drastically.

On behalf of prosecution, Montserrado County Attorney Cllr. Edwin K, Martin made the appeal Tuesday, 17 September at Criminal Court "C" in presenting the government's theory of the case that involves former President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf's son Charles Sirleaf and former CBL Executive Governor Milton Weeks and others.He says the acts of Mr. Sirleaf, Weeks, DorborHagba, Richard Walker and Joseph Dennis to print billions of Liberian dollars without being authorized and infusing the money into the economy has affected the economy drastically.

According to Cllr. Martin, "the criminal syndicate commenced on the 17 of May 2017" when the request was made through the then president Madam Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf to the Legislature for the printing of LRD$5bn to replace mutilated legacy banknotes.Government's first witness Mr. Baba M. Boakai, a Program Manager for Enforcement and Investigation at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) says analysis made on documents submitted to LACC by the CBL showed that the defendants did not follow the mandate given by both the Legislature and former President Sirleaf.

Witness Boakai on the stand with powerpoint presentation, says the CBL under the supervision of defendant Sirleaf had already entered into a contract with Crane Currency for the printing of LRD$5bn before getting Legislative approval.Based on the Terms and Condition of the contract, witness Boakai details that Crane Currency was to print a total of LRD$5bn for the contract cost of US$5,210,000.

But from the banking records submitted to the investigation by authorities of the CBL, witness Bokaia says contrary to the five billion being printed as provided for in the contract, Crane Currency and the CBL together printed a total of 5,146,250,000.Contrary to the payment of US$5,210,000, he says further that CBL paid to Crane Currency a total of US$5,611,469.00.

According to him, the investigation established that the CBL overpaid Crane Currency in the tune of US$401,469.Additionally, Mr. Boakai says the investigation also established that CBL under the supervision of co-defendant Charles Sirleaf printed excess Liberian dollars banknote in the amount of $146,250,000 as additional bank note that was not authorized by the Legislature.

He says the investigation found no evidence that Charles Sirleaf sought authorization from the Legislature for the printing of the excess banknotes of $146,250,000, saying the investigation considered it as illegal and authorized.When former House Speaker Alex Tyler appeared before the investigation, witness Boakai says the former informed the investigation that the bank was authorized to only print five billion Liberian dollars banknotes to replace the mutilated banknotes on the market.

On the printing of the ten billion, which was under the supervision of Mr. Weeks, Boakai says the investigation found that on July 19, 2017, a letter from the Legislature under the signature of House Chief Clerk Mildred Siryon and Senate Secretary NaborlorSingbeh informed Weeks that the Liberian Legislature had agreed for banknotes to be printed.

However, witness Boakai says the CBL under Mr. Weeks' supervision was mandated by the Legislature to do an analysis on the volume and denomination on the banknotes to be printed and revert to the Legislature with this analysis prior to proceeding with the printing exercise.

Further, he says Mrs. Sirleaf also mandated the CBL to ensure that her office was furnished with details of that analysis.But he says the CBL failed to revert to the Legislature and former President Sirleaf.

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