Liberia: 'Legislature Gave No Authorization' - Prosecution First Witness in Central Bank of Liberia L$16 Billion Trial

Monrovia — Government lawyers' first witness, Baba H.Boakai, has testified in open court in the case involving former officials of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), saying that the defendants were not authorized by the Legislature to print more than L$10 million dollars.

Boakai made the revelation on Monday, June 29, at the Criminal Court 'C' when he took the witness' stand.

"During the course of the investigation, from analyses made on all statements collected and documents received in relation to the authorization and printing of 10 billion Liberian dollars banknotes, the investigation found that unlike for the case of the five billion (L$5 Billion), no authorization was given by the Liberian Legislature for the printing of the 10 Billion Liberian dollar," Boakai testified in court.

Witness Boakai is the Program Manager for Enforcement and Investigations at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC). He is also one of the lead investigators at the LACC who probed the defendants.

Boakai further testified that prior to the printing of the bank notes, the Legislature requested the CBL to make full analyses of the quantity of bank notes to be printed as well as the denomination to be printed.

"The investigation rather saw a communication dated July 19, 2017, signed by the Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of the Senate addressed to Hon. Milton A. Weeks, informing him of the Legislature perusal approval to print, but that he (Weeks) was required to do a full analyses as to the quantity of banknotes to be printed as well as the denomination to be printed, prior to the printing," Boakai explained.

He continued: "We also saw a communication dated August 7, 2017, written and signed by former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf addressed to Hon. Weeks, informing him of her concordance of the decision of the Legislature as it was instructed by that Legislature."

He also testified that the investigation discovered a CBL resolution signed by all the defendants without a date and specific amount to be printed.

He also added that the resolution authorized Governor Weeks to proceed with the printing of the banknotes for the purpose of replacing all the legacies bank notes.

"The investigation also found that from further analyses of documents received and statements collected showed that the Board Resolution in question was initially signed, prepared or drafted by Cllr. Joseph K. Jallah, legal counsel of the CBL at the time, in September of 2017," he said.

"The investigation also found in relation to the ten billion (LRD$10 Billion) that the contracts between Crane Currency and CBL have already been executed on June 12, 2017, for the printing of the L$10Billion for a printing cost of USD$10,121,689.00. Further analyses of the contract already been executed before on June 12, 2017 before Governor Weeks even attempted to make contact with the Legislature in July of 2017, almost a month after he (Weeks)signed the contract."

Witness Boakai also testified that Governor Weeks, serving in dual capacity as Executive Governor and Chairman of the Board of Governors of the CBL, used the authority of both positions to assemble the Board of Governors for the purpose of drafting a board resolution to legalize and perfect his action of entering into the contract.

"The investigation further found that from the analyses of documents received, that the CBL and that of Crane Currency was also in violation of the very contract that they signed," Boakai testified.

He added that the investigation also established that the total amount of Liberian dollars printed was L$13,004,750,000.00 instead of the L$10 billion.

"The investigation found that from the parking List received from the CBL, the total amount of LRD printed for the purpose of L$10 Billion was L$13,004,750,000.00 that was printed, shipped and received by authority of the CBL."

He added:" Contrary to this, authority of the CBL informed the investigation that only L$10,359,750,000.00 as the total amount that was printed and received by them.

"So, from the analyses of the parking List which shows the quantities and denomination of the total amount of banknotes printed and brought to Liberia in the tune of L$13,004,750,000.00 and that of the L$10,359,750,000.00 as reported by the defendant, you will have the variance of L$2,645,000,000.00 as the amount that is unaccounted for by the Co-defendant Milton A. Weeks."

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