Liberia: 'Missing L$2 Billion Was Discovered From the Shipment's Documents'

Supreme Court

-- Prosecution's first witness

Prosecution's first witness in the ongoing trial that involves five current and former officials of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), accused of their respective involvements in the 'missing' L$16 billion, told Criminal Court 'C' on Tuesday, September 17, 2019 that the government charged the defendants because of information collected from documents that accompanied shipping containers full of the printed Liberian banknotes.

Baba M. Borkai, the program manager of the Enforcement and Investigation Division at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), said that the actual newly printed Liberian banknotes shipped from January 2016 up to, and including August 2018 by Crane Currency to the country was L$18,151,000,000, contrary to the defendants claim that they printed and shipped L$15,870,000,000.

However, the defendants, including former CBL Executive Governor Milton Weeks, his deputy for Operations Charles Sirleaf, Director for Finance Dorbor Hagba, Director for Operations Richard Walker, and Deputy Director for Internal Audit Joseph Dennis, denied earlier when they were arraigned before the Court to answer to the indictment.

They are charged with Money Laundering, Economic Sabotage, Criminal Conspiracy, Facilitation and Solicitation.

Borkai, who is also one of the investigators of the CBL missing money, put the difference, which he alleged the defendants pocketed amounted to L$2,645,000,000, claiming "in excess to what the defendants printed and shipped to the country."

The prosecution witness also claimed that the discovery was made when the accused officials presented to the investigators packing lists of the then newly printed Liberian banknotes that included L$5, L$10, L$20, L$50, L$100 and L$500, which marketers have often refused to accept owing to it feature as that the L$10.

The packing list is intended to let transport agencies, government authorities, and customers know the contents of the package.

"It was during our analysis of the documents that we discovered from packing lists attached to the containers of the printing banknotes that Crane Currency shipped to the country," Borkai said in his testimony.

"This is how we found out that the printed and shipped money was L$18,151,000,000, instead of L$15,870,000,000."

The much-anticipated report was carried out by investigative auditing firm Kroll Associates, an American Firm, which the US Embassy near Monrovia subsequently released to relevant authorities, including the General Auditing Commission (GAC).

According to Kroll, the House of Representatives passed a resolution for the order of L$5 billion to remove and replace old banknotes on the market.

The Central Bank requested additional L$10 billion, but the request was denied by the Senate. The Bank went ahead anyway and engaged a company to print the additional banknotes.

"CBL management subsequently explained to Kroll that due to the urgency for new banknotes, the CBL did not follow its own internal tendering policies for the procurement of Crane AB," the report says.

Kroll explains in the 67-page report that despite repeated requests, the Bank did not provide any explanation as to who had approved the injection of new banknotes into the Liberian economy without first removing the equivalent quantity from circulation.

The case continues on Thursday, September 18, 2019 at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.

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