-Hot Pepper Publisher Philipbert Browne summoned to provide proof over allegation
The leadership of the House of Representatives has summoned Philipbert Browne, publisher of the Hot Pepper newspaper, to appear on Monday, November 19, at 1:00 p.m. to help with the ongoing inquiry of the apparent illegal printing of the additional L$10.5 billion, and some of the allegedly missing L$10.5 billion by “naming and shaming” 12 Lawmakers of the current Legislature, who are allegedly involved as he claimed in his publication.
Mr. Browne is expected to appear after former Governors Milton Weeks, Kolli S. Tamba, Melisa Emeh and David Farhat, along with Governor Elsie Dossen Badio, Deputy Governor Charles Sirleaf and CBL Director and Deputy Director for Internal Audit, Adolphus Forpka, and Joseph Dennis, were ordered to appear with evidence on Monday, November 19, at 11:00 a.m. as to why they should not be held in contempt for the unauthorized printing of additional L$10.5 billion.
Mr. Browne was summoned by members of the Lower House on Thursday, November 15, which marked the 8th day of the extraordinary sitting following an amended motion proffered by Montserrado County District #8 Representative Acarous M. Gray.
Rep. Gray’s earlier motion was to summon the Hot Pepper publisher to hold him in contempt charges, but the amendments from Representatives Vicent Willie of Grand Bassa County District #4, and Francis Dopoh, River Gee County District #3, which were against the contempt charges, were accepted and automatically nullified the original motion.
Plenary’s decision came from debates, which followed a letter from Nimba County District #5 Representative Samuel Kogar, inviting Mr. Browne to provide evidence on the involvement of lawmakers in aiding and abetting the printing of L$5 billion and the additional L$10.5 billion.
“We see this revelation as important and critical in aiding our investigation, and bringing to light those colleagues who Mr. Browne alleged were involved. Evidence should be provided by him to allow Plenary to act appropriately in the context of the law,” Rep. Kogar said.
On Wednesday, November 14, during the OK FM’s evening phone-in (talk) show, also known as the “Afternoon Conversation” hosted by the station’s manager, Smith Toby, Mr. Browne claimed that more than 15 lawmakers of the 53rd Legislature, 12 of whom are members of the 54th Legislature, received bribes in support of CBL, through an inappropriate letter to print additional L$10.5 billion.
Mr. Browne told the the radio talk show host that some of the lawmakers distributed the inducement money at the T-Five Academy, located in Neezoe community, Paynesville. The T-Five Academy is owned by Representative Thomas Fallah of Montserrado County District #5.
Rep. Fallah was the Chairman of Public Account and Expenditure Committee (PAC) of the House of Representatives and the Joint Chairman of PAC of the 53rd Legislature.
Mr. Browne, on the radio, also said that former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the current President, George Weah, are not linked with the additional printing of L$10.5 billion as well as some of the missing L$15 billion.
In a heated debate among lawmakers yesterday, Representatives Isaac Roland, Solomon George, Monterrado County District #7, Vincent Kamara, Nathaniel Barway, Grand Kru County District #1, Matthew Zarzay, Sinoe County District #3, Kane Wesso, Gbarpoly District #2, and Thomas Fallah supported the decision to invite Browne to help with the investigation so as to reveal the names of those lawmakers who were, as he claimed, were induced by the CBL, allowing the additional printing of the L$10.5 billion.
Reps. Larry Younquoi, Roger Dunah, Francis Young and Francis Dopoh said the invitation of Mr. Browne should be done in a “friendly manner.”
Meanwhile, in September 2018, Mr. Browne became the whistle blower for the alleged missing L$15.5 billion. He accused the past and current administrations of the disappearance of the money.
A few days later, he expressed fear for his life over the alleged continuous calls by unknown individuals, who he said had threatened to destroy him and his family.
Mr. Browne told the Voice of America radio Daybreak program that his children were no longer going to school due to fear of being killed.
He explained that his wife had an encounter with some men who had gone to look for him, and his family at her shop in Central Monrovia, a situation he said prompted him to inform authorities of the Liberia National Police (LNP).