— Says it is not a signatory to the procedural channels regarding the movement of government revenue from commercial banks account to the consolidated revenue account
Authority of the Central Bank of Liberia has denied involvement in the disappearing of US$23 million and L$2 billion of taxpayer money meant for the consolidated revenue account at the bank.
According to the CBL, it is not a signatory to the procedural channels regarding the movement of government revenue from commercial bank accounts to the consolidated revenue account, “but only implements the movement of funds from the accounts based on a directive from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP).”
“All taxes mobilized by the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) are paid into the transitory accounts at commercial banks consistent with the Public Financial Management (PFM) Law, and eventually moved into the government’s consolidated account held at the CBL, exclusively under the transparent and accountable mandate of the MFDP and LRA,” the CBL said in a press statement.
Transitory accounts, the CBL said, are issues for LRA and commercial banks who at the end of every reconciliatory period carry on a routine validation among themselves, excluding the CBL, to confirm that all funds collected and placed in the transitory accounts are appropriately handled in line with policy.
“The CBL neither participates in the setting of revenue target nor has any jurisdiction or knowledge about the actual amount received by commercial banks prior to any movement of funds into GOL’s accounts.”
The transitory account, through which commercial banks receive inland taxes and customs duties for the government, was recently audited by the LRA, which finds that millions of millions of the United States and Liberia dollars paid as taxes have not been reflecting in the Consolidated General Revenue Account at the CBL.
It uncovered that the corrupt practice of hidden or stealing money belonging to the government consolidated account began under the administration of President George Weah’s predecessor, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. In 2017, before leaving office, the CBL administration under former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, according to the audit report, did not capture revenue transactions in the amount of US$2,043,813.75 and L$327,130,712.16 in its bank swift confirmation reports.
“Revenue transactions amounting to US$2,043,813.75 and LD$327,130,712.16 on commercial banks’ statements were not captured in the 2017 CBL swift confirmation reports and therefore not reflected in GOL’s CGRA,” the LRA report said.
But the alleged stealing did not stop there as the amount not deposited in the government consolidated account drastically increased in 2018 to US$8,357,651.67 and L$1,131,749,625.77, with the same story.
Commercial Banks actually do not transact their customers’ money without their customers’ expressed written consent. Therefore, according to a banking professional who spoke to the Daily Observer off-the-record, the matter is laid squarely at the feet of those who are signatories to the government’s bank accounts. Following the CBL’s response, the commercial banks have meanwhile declined to comment.
Meanwhile, the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) received the lion share of the amount collected, in the amount of US$3,834,053.94 and L$669,288,492.79.
LBDI, according to the report, was followed by Internaitonal Bank Liberia Ltd. (IB) at US$1,809,208.50 and Ecobank Liberia at L$187,290,209.08.
In 2019, LBDI again topped the list of banking institutions as a repository of taxes collected, pending onward movement to the Consolidated General Revenue Account at the CBL. According to a source, there were more tax deposits into GOL accounts at LBDI there because LBDI has more branches across the country than any other commercial bank.
Below is the audit report findings on the GOL’s CGRA.
|1||International Bank (IB)||111,343.48||45,088,347.48|
|3||Access Bank Liberia||86,796.95||5,468,139.16|
|4||Global Bank Liberia||29,842.64||44,864.53|
|5||GT Bank Liberia||14,150.00||25,410,232.00|
|United Bank of Africa||8,883.58||43,943,418.36|
|1||International Bank (IB)||1,809,208.50||137,742,128.40|
|3||Access Bank Liberia||2,837.91||4,629,059.93|
|4||Global Bank Liberia||140,550.19||5,334,015.81|
|5||GT Bank Liberia||71,749.53||57,456,426.40|
|7||United Bank of Africa (UBA)||726,387.72||69,878,733.36|
|GN Bank Liberia||511,964.49||130,560.00|
|International Bank (IB)||1,450,779.82||57,142,608.22|
|Access Bank Liberia||94,683.28||22,456,533.78|
|Global Bank Liberia||952,261.80||9,876,107.22|
|GT Bank Liberia||316,864.23||9,381,984.26|
|Afriland Bank Liberia||204,692||.49 7,935,973.11|
|United Bank of Africa (UBA)||170,726.||51 30,788,156.66|
|GN Bank Liberia||530,086.55||12,759,120.01|
The audit, according to the LRA was intended to ascertain the accuracy, completeness, reliability, and validity of the amount of taxes commercial banks collected and remitted to GOL’s CGRA at the CBL were “accurately and completely reflects the true and fair amount of taxes collected by the commercial banks for the period under audit.”
“The Central Bank of Liberia and commercial banks need to provide explanations for these irregularities (amounts reflected on commercial banks’ statements as remittances to GOL’s Consolidated Revenue Account at CBL but not reflected in CBL’s Swift Confirmation Reports and GOL’s CGRA) for purposes of accurately, completely and reliably accounting for taxes collected on behalf of Government of Liberia in accordance with the memorandum of understanding,” the report said.
However, the CBL reiterates that it has no statutory control over the operational functioning of GOL’s transitory accounts at the commercial banks, nor does it have any control over the movement of cash from the Consolidated Account of the Government unless by a formalized instruction from MFDP.
“CBL reassures the public of its full commitment to transparency in the implementation of monetary policy operations to strengthen confidence. In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act the CBL remains available in providing necessary clarifications and accurate information on issues of concern to its operations,” the release said.
The accounts in question came as a result of an MFDP Administrative Regulation NO. PFMA-01/MOF/R/02 2010, directing that all funds collected through the Transitory Revenue Accounts on a certain business day shall be swept into the General Revenue Account at the CBL by the commercial bank on the “next clearing day” by check, debit instruction or by electronic payments.
According to the MFDP regulation, the sweep shall cover deposits made for the certain business day(s) until the next “clearing day”. The commercial bank may also credit the offshore account of the CBL in settlement of the amounts due provided that all current balances at the CBL are insufficient to settle amounts due. The swift acknowledgment of the transfer on the stipulated sweep shall be required. For electronic transfers, all transfer related charges shall be on account of the commercial banks.
It also stated that if any Commercial Bank fails to submit the agreed report on the first clearing day of the week, and that failure continues for forty-eight hours after the report due date, the defaulting Commercial Bank shall pay a penalty of L$50,000 for each day of default starting from the original due date. Such amount shall be debited to the Commercial Bank’s current account by the CBL upon written notification by the MOF and shall be credited to the General Revenue Account.