Liberia: 14 in NSA Dragnet

Authorities of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning disclose here that the National Security Agency is investigating the Director of Treasury, Madam LorpuSworh, six (6) other employees of the Ministry and seven (7) staffers of GN Bank Liberia Limited, for a recent check scandal that saw the alleged withdrawals of L$6 million and US$68,000 respectively, from various official accounts with the commercial bank.

Information coming from the Ministry says the 14 suspects are facing daily investigation on their respective roles in the unapplied account scandal. The 'unapplied accounts' is used by the government for returned checks that may have problems.

Commercial banks that disburse checks for government employees sometimes experience difficulties with unnamed checks or accounts and said checks are usually returned to the 'Unapplied Accounts' for further clarification by proper authorities.

This paper reported on Monday that Finance Ministry authorities claimed to have uncovered a major financial syndicate that involves the Ministry's 'Unapplied accounts' at GN Bank Liberia Limited and other commercial banks operating here. Comptroller General Janga Augustus Kowo, whose office manages government checks said investigations had already been launched into the scandal.

The syndicate is said to have defrauded the Government of Liberia several thousand dollars with the latest allegedly occurring at GN Bank Liberia Limited when about L$6M and US$68,000 were respectively withdrawn at various branches of the bank from the "Unapplied Accounts."

GN Bank Liberia's Clara Town branch has been the main point of withdrawal, due to its strong liquidity base.

Prior to the discovery of the alleged syndicate, some officials of the Ministry of Finance had paid several visits to GN Bank Liberia Limited to conduct investigations, according to sources at the Ministry.

The nature of the probe was not revealed, but the syndicate, according to sources at the National Security Agency, has been operating for a while now from the "Unapplied Accounts" at various commercial banks in the country, though no other commercial bank has been named besides the GN Bank Liberia Limited.

The Office of Comptroller General Kowo said it observed suspicious transactions, which prompted an invitation to the National Security Agency to conduct investigation.

The syndicate transpires at a time the economy is in a serious nose-dive with businesses shrinking and companies laying off employees, while critical sectors such as health and education are in a quagmire due to lack of adequate funding amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne

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