Liberia: ‘We Are Not Flight Risks’

A view shows the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, Liberia on November 3, 2017.

.... Ecobank, Afriland First Bank implore Court ‘C’

Judge Ciapha Carey of Criminal Court 'C’ has approved Ecobank Liberia and Afriland First Bank request to appear in court without a criminal appearance bond while answering the government’s charge of economic sabotage, theft of property, forgery, and criminal conspiracy.

The banks, in their request for bond waiver, claimed  that “we are not  flight risk to escape the bailiwick of the country.” 

Ecobank Liberia and Afriland First Bank are being indicted by the government of Liberia as part of the criminal cases against the former executive director of the National Investment Commission (NIC), George Wisner, and the Secretary of the Liberian Senate, Nanborlor Singbeh, for allegedly duping two Czech Republic investors, Martin and Pavel Miloschewsky, of US$5 million. 

According to the government, out of the US$5 million, US$102,000 was transferred from the Czech Republic through the Afriland First Bank, and US$2.4 million was also transferred to the Ecobank Liberia limited, to fund the establishment of a mining company, the MHM Eko Liberia, in Margibi County. 

However, the government claimed that the banks facilitated the defendant Singbeh’s action by opening bogus accounts, which were then used by Singbeh, to dupe the investors of their just benefits, and the mining company was never established.

The indictment added that Singbeh was not just the President of the company, but a shareholder, when the monies were allegedly transferred to him through the various banking institutions. 

In Afriland First Bank’s application for bond waiver, they  argued that, as a reputable financial institution, they will appear whenever notified and that the bank is of “no flight risk,” since their assets are far higher than the amount in question.

Therefore, the bank said, “co-defendant prays the court to grant its release without bail, consistent with the provisions of law.” 

Section 13.5 of the Criminal Procedure Law, among others, provides that “when, from the circumstances, the court is of the opinion that the defendant will appear as required either before or after conviction, without giving a bail, he may be released without security, upon such conditions as may be prescribed to ensure the appearance. These conditions may include parole to the custody of a member of the family or other person exercising moral influence over the defendant or the requirements that the defendant report periodically to a probation officer of the judicial circuit.”

In Ecobank's application, it said there is absolutely no possibility that the co-defendant bank is going to, or attempt to leave the bailiwick of Liberia, given its investment in the country.

Accordingly, the co-defendant Ecobank further argued that it need not post an appearance bond because, as a corporate banking institution, its appearance is certain at all times. 

“The co-defendant Bank prays your honor to release the corporation from the requirement to post any bail to secure its appearance” the bank said in its application.