The leadership of the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) has demanded that President George Weah launch an independent, robust and timely investigation into the “missing” L$16 billion.
In a statement issued yesterday, September 23, CENTAL said the situation is troubling and has serious economic, security and reputational implications for Liberia, especially in the wake of the recent suspension of the country’s membership from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
CENTAL said it welcomes the ongoing investigation into the matter, but has cautioned that such investigation be impartial and robust, drawing on the expertise of relevant independent, professional and watchdog institutions.
CENTAL notes, with dismay, the exclusion of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission from the said investigation, and has called on the Weah Administration to rely on the professional competence of specialized integrity, anti-corruption, and justice institutions rather than those with no background in such a delicate field.
“We demand a scrupulous review of all processes and circumstances surrounding printing, importation, clearing and transportation of the money under question, and urge that findings of the investigation are timely published and fully implemented, including impartial and timely prosecution of all involved with alleged disappearance of the container of Liberian dollar banknotes and illegal printing of excess banknotes,” the statement said.
CENTAL urges President Weah to take actions against any persons reasonably connected to the matter, and not allow impunity to reign once more in the land.
The statement expresses extreme concern over news of alleged illegal printing of Liberian dollar banknotes as well as the unprecedented disappearance of over L$15 billion.
“With the President’s plea for ordinary citizens to be patient-minded in the wake of harsh economic conditions and realities, government officials, past and present, cannot continue to defraud the state and enrich themselves at the expense of the masses. This is totally unacceptable and detestable,” the statement said.
In a country of under five million people, of which over half live below the poverty line, it is sickening that citizens will repeatedly hear about scandals, high-level corruption and bad governance, while public officials make merry at the expense of their taxes and support from development partners.
CENTAL calls on President Weah and the CDC-led Government to be more pragmatic in their professed commitment to the fight against corruption and bad governance.