Criminal Court Cites CBL Governor over Controversial LACC's ‘Dual Accounts’

CBL Governor J. Aloysius Tarlue.

The Judge of Criminal Court ‘C’ has invited the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia to provide explanations regarding conflicting information from the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) about two government accounts at the bank.

The two separate accounts are, the Liberia Anti-corruption Commission/Restitution of Government Funds, and the Government of Liberia Account titled: “Asset Recovery”, with account number 160-200-3653.  

However, the accounts, according to Judge Ousmane Feika, contain conflicting information that requires the  presence and clarification of CBL Executive Governor, J. Aloysius Tarlue.

Governor Tarlue is expected to appear on Friday, September 10, in Judge Ousmane Feika’s conference room to discuss matters relating to the restitution being made by the former Inspector General of the Liberia National Police (LNP), Beatrice Munah Sieh Brown, and several other individuals. Madam Brown and others were mandated by the Supreme Court to restitute the amount of US$199,800 as money judgment against them into account #160-200-3653 (titled: Asset Recovery), lodged with the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).

The Liberia Anti-corruption Commission/Restitution of Government Funds was opened at the CBL by then Acting Executive Chairman of the LACC, Counselor Kanio Bai Gbala, dated May 6, 2021. However, the Government of Liberia Account, titled: “Asset Recovery”, with account #160-200-3653 was also opened at the same CBL by the current LACC Executive Chairman, Counselor Edwin K. Martin, dated July 28, 2021.

Gov. Tarlue’s  invitation comes about seven days after the Sheriff of the court, Tina G. Noring, wrote Assigned Judge Ousmane Feika about the difficulty she experienced in depositing some of the payment in the amount of US$16,500, paid against the US$199,800, with respect to the two accounts of the LACC at the CBL.

Noring’s letter to Judge Feika, dated August 31, was filed to the court on September 1, 2021.

In that communication, Noring informed Judge Feika that, “I proceeded to the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to effect the directive, but I was informed by authority of the CBL that there is no need to purchase a manager’s check because the said account is not a general revenue account.”

Her letter recommended, “I would be pleased where you to invite the authority of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) and the Liberia Anti-corruption Commission (LACC) for an amicable resolution, so as to enable my office to deposit said fund at the said Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).” The sheriff is an employee of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) assigned at the Judiciary to help enforce the order of the court.

Surprisingly, when Counselor Martin was confirmed as executive chairman of the LACC, he immediately wrote the court,on July 28, 2021, directing Sheriff Noring to make sure the restitution payments were deposited in the new account, the Government of Liberia account, titled, “Asset Recovery” with account #160-200-3653, although the account opened by  Cllr. Gbala was already being used.

In that letter, Cllr. Martin ordered that, “Your Honor is requested to order the sheriff of Criminal Court ‘C’ to use US$75.00 of the amount restituted to purchase five (5) Manager’s Checks for each of the five defendants and transportation to facilitate the process.”

It further reads, “we would appreciate the court advising the defendants and other defendants in similar situations to deposit subsequent payments into the account mentioned above than the court.”

Additionally, Martin said, “this communication supersedes all previous communications written by the Liberia Anti-corruption Commission in this regard.” In conclusion, Martin mandated, “this communication shall serve as your legal and sufficient authority.” It is not clear whether the Government of Liberia Account titled, "Asset Recovery", with account #160-200-3653, it is the continuation of the Assets Investigation Restitution and Recovery Team (AIRReT) that is under the supervision of Solicitor General Sayma Syrenius Cephus.

Before Cllr. Martin’s letter, Cllr. Gbala, who served as Acting Executive Chairman of the LACC at the time, wrote the then Assigned Judge Peter Gbeneweleh on May 6, 2021, requesting that the restitution paid to the court by the defendants be deposited into the government’s general revenue account with the description: “Liberia Anti-corruption Commission/Restitution of Government Funds”. He also instructed that copies of the LRA official receipts be submitted to the LACC and the court.

Cllr Gbala further explained, “Your Honor, it is important to note that those wishing to make restitution must first purchase a manager’s check and proceed to the LRA to complete the process. We have, however, attached a copy of past transactions to aid the individual or institution wishing to do restitution.”

Additionally, Gbala noted, “we would appreciate the court advising defendants to deposit subsequent payments into government revenue rather than the court.”

Former Inspector General of the Liberia National Police (LNP), Beatrice Munah Sieh Brown together with her former deputy commissioner for administration, Harris Manneh Dunn; Prince O.A. Akinremi, proprietor of Ultimate Investment and Holding Company; Kaymah N. Zeon and Nebo Garlo, both former physical auditors of the Ministry of Finance (now Ministry of Finance and Development Planning) were indicted by the LACC for the commission of multiple criminal offenses that include economic sabotage, theft of property, criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation.

The Indictment claimed that in October 2008, the defendants, while serving in their various capacities, designed a criminal strategy wherein they were sole-sourcing, by and through misrepresentation and misinformation to to Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC), under the pretext that uniforms and accessories were urgently needed for use by the Emergency Response Unit (ERU), of the LNP to facilitate its operations. 

Unfortunately, the court document claimed that on the defendants’ instructions and directives and approval -- and with the connivance of each other -- illegal and misleading documents were developed and executed in favor of Prince O.A. Akinremi, proprietor of Ultimate Investment and Holding Company for the amount of US$199,800.

According to the court records, the amount was withdrawn, disbursed and paid to the defendants themselves and others under the pretext of purchasing the police equipment, materials and supplies for the ERU, which purchases were never done.