The prosecution rested its production of rebuttal witness on Monday, August 17, wrapping up almost two-months of witnesses’ testimonies in the alleged missing L$16 billion banknotes trial of former members of the Board of Governors of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), who are under the accusation that, without the approval of the Legislature, they printed excess Liberian dollar banknotes amounting to L$2.645 billion between 2016 and 2017.
Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbiesay of Criminal Court ‘C’ has scheduled the final legal arguments in the case for Wednesday, August 19, at 9:00 a.m. Judge Gbeisay cautioned: “All parties are hereby advised to work in line with said time.”
Though the Criminal Court ‘C’ Judge did not state what punishment he would levy on any of the parties that will not work within his timeframe, he said, “Both parties, defense and prosecution, having rested evidence in total and submitted their sides of the case to the final argument, the trial is hereby adjourned and reassigned on Wednesday, August 19, 2020, at 9:00 for final argument.”
Gbeisay further noted that “All parties are acknowledged to file in their legal memorandum on or before Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. They are ordered to file a hard copy with the court and file a soft copy with the judge through an email.” He added: “Arguments on Wednesday will last for 45 minutes each.” Gbeisay’s decision was made when the prosecution lawyer, Cllr. Jerry Garlawolo announced that the prosecution was closed with the production of testimonies of its only rebuttal witness, Isaac C. Davis. Davis is an internal auditor of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), one of several institutions contacted by the government to investigate the alleged missing L$16 billion banknotes. The prosecution’s first rebuttal witness, Isaac Davis, was invited to rebut the testimony of key Defendant Milton Weeks that the Board of Governors without any authorization printed L$13,004,750,000 banknotes instead of the LD$10,359,750,000, making an unaccountable amount of LD$2.6 billion.
In his PowerPoint presentation, Davis insisted that “the money printed and brought into the country was L$13,004,750.” The five former board of governors are; David M. Farhat, Melisa Emeh, Kollie Tamba and Elsie Dossen Badio, and Weeks, all of whom were members. Others include the former executive governor and secretary of the board of governors Milton A. Weeks; Director for Operations, Richard Walker; Director for Finance Department, Dorbor Hagba; and Deputy Director for Internal Audit, Mr. Joseph Dennis.
Surprisingly, the charges against the former Director for Operations, Richard Walker; Director for Finance Department, Dorbor Hagba; and Deputy Director for Internal Audit, Mr. Joseph Dennis were dropped that left the five board of governors off the burden of the accusation. The charges of economic sabotage, theft of property, criminal conspiracy, and criminal solicitation were drawn against the defendants by the Grand Jury for Montserrado County, stationed, at Criminal Court ‘A’ at the Temple of Justice. The government had dropped those criminal charges against Charles Sirleaf, then deputy governor for operations and Crane Currency, a Swedish currency printing company said to have facilitated the printing of the excess money.
Apparently, the inclusion of the board of governors may have been necessitated by an early testimony of Weeks, when Weeks, on November 8, 2018, appeared before the plenary of the House of Representatives and admitted that the printing of the additional L$10.5 billion new banknotes was not authorized by the Legislature. Weeks told the House of Representatives that the board of governors decided on the printing of the additional banknotes based on past discussions with the Legislature.
“The Board of Governors also understood that the communication signed by the Clerk of the House granting authorization to completely replace the remaining mutilated banknotes on the market was an authority to go ahead and print the additional L$10.5 billion,” Weeks told the extraordinary session on the matter.
The former CBL Executive Governor by then said the printing of the additional banknotes was approved by the National Legislature, but members of the 53rd Legislature during whose tenure the printing of the additional banknotes was reportedly authorized, have continuously denied giving the bank the go-ahead for additional printing of money after authorizing earlier L$5 billion to be printed in April 2016 to replace mutilated banknotes on the market.