Liberia: Court Fines Lawmaker in CBL Case

The Criminal Court “C” in Monrovia has fined Gbarpolu County District #2 Representative Cllr. Kanie Wesso US$200 for his failure to appear and testify as a subpoenaed witness in the trial of several Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) officials indicted for alleged theft and economic sabotage of billions of Liberian dollars.

Representative Wesso, former House Speaker Atty. J. Alex Tyler, Senate Secretary Nanborlor F. Singbeh and several others were subpoenaed Tuesday, 7 July based on prosecution's request.

In fining the lawmaker, Judge YamieQuiquiGbeisay warned Thursday, 9 July that Cllr. Wesso "a member of the House of Representatives," especially a counsel - at - law who is also an arm of the court does play with the law of this country.

"Reference to the sheriff's return, it clearly stated that Honorable Counselor, KanieWesso was served with the Writ of Subpoena, he received it and acknowledged the said subpoena," the judge says.

At the call of the case on Thursday, Judge Gbeisay says Cllr. Wesso did not send any excuse to the clerk of the court nor the judge or place a phone call to the court to say why he was unable to appear Thursday morning.

"Consequently, Cllr. Wesso is hereby fined 200 USD to be paid in the Revenue and receipt be placed in the hand of the sheriff within 24hr. Failure of which this court shall proceed according to law," Judge Gbeisay rules.

Based on prosecution's request, Representative Wesso and the rest of the officials were subpoenaed Tuesday following the testimony provided by second State witness Amos T. Goba, Analyst in the Department of Analysis, Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).

Witness Goba had testified that the investigation into the alleged missing billions of Liberian Dollars established that L$13,004,750,000.00 was printed and shipped, while the bank claimed that only L$10,359,750,000.00 was printed and shipped, giving a variance of L$2,645,000,000.00.

He stated that the investigation found communications from the Houses of Representatives and Senate and from former President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf addressed to former CBL Executive Governor Milton A. Weeks.

Further, witness Goba said the investigation found a Board Resolution signed by the Board of Governors; a contract; shipping document relating to the shipment to include packing list, bill of living and airway bill.

On the stand Thursday as prosecution's first subpoena witness, Mr. Nanborlor F. Singbeh, Secretary of the Liberian Senate, testified that the resolution was adopted by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, authorizing the printing of the first LD$5 billion.

Quizzed by the prosecution whether the CBL reverted to the Legislature as per instruction given to it through a communication surrounding the printing of additional money, the witness testifies that he has no record of such.

Asked further whether there was joint resolution passed by both houses in respect of the replacement of the Liberian Dollars legacy notes, Mr. Singbeh replies: "To my knowledge, there was no Resolution ... "

He says all resolutions when signed by members of the Senate, obtaining the number required by the Constitution, he signs as Secretary of the Senate.

The government here indicted several officials in 2019 for their alleged roles in the misapplication of billions of Liberian Dollars printed and shipped to Liberia to replace old local currency after a series of mass protests led local and international institutions to investigate a claim that the money had gone missing.

Defendants Milton A. Weeks, David Fahart, Elsie DossenBardio and KollieTamba are standing trial for multiple charges including theft and economic sabotage of billions of Liberian dollars printed and shipped to Liberia, following a series of mass protests that prompted local and international investigation into claims that the money went missing.

The fifth defendant Melisa A. Emeh is said to be out of the bailiwick of Liberia and has not been brought to court, therefore the court has granted prosecution's request to grant her a separate trial so as to enable the four other defendants that are available to get speedy trial.

All the defendants on trial have pleaded not guilty for charges of theft of property; economic sabotage; fraud on the internal revenue of Liberia; misuse of public money, property or record; theft or illegal disbursement of public money; criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation.

This third indictment in the case did not include former President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf's son Charles E. Sirleaf who served as Deputy CBL Governor for Operations when the financial scandal emerged at the bank, because he was nolleprosequi with prejudice in May this year.

Besides Mr. Sirleaf, the prosecution here also entered a nolleprosequi (dropped charges) in favor of defendants Richard H. Walker, Dorbor M. Hagba and Joseph Dennis. By Winston W. Parley

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