Ever since President George M. Weah appointed Madam D. Sheba Brown to serve as Member of the Board of Governors of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), reports citing apparent conflict of interest may likely becloud her appointment and leave her in a dilemma of choices.
Mrs. Brown, who currently serves as commissioner at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), is a former employee of the CBL with 30-plus years of service. At the time of her retirement from the CBL she had risen to the post of Director of Administration — a very senior staff position — with several departments, including human resources and procurement, under her control.
While serving as Director of Administration, Mrs. reportedly influenced the employment of her son, Rodney Brown, in the procurement department of the bank, Rev. Elijah F. Chilar, who served as Brown’s Deputy, told the Daily Observer.
As director of administration at CBL, he said, Mrs. Brown was also responsible to enforce the bank’s human resources policy. Sources further say the hiring of her son and his placement in the procurement division created much disenchantment among employees of the CBL.
In an open letter written to President Weah, Elijah F. Chilar called on President Weah to withdraw the appointment of Mrs. Brown, mainly for ethical and other reasons bordering on integrity. Mr. Chilar has previously served in several positions at the CBL, including Assistant Director of Administration for Human Resources, Deputy Director of Administration, and Director for General Support Services. Chilar was retired from the CBL in January 2018.
He argued that Mrs. Brown should not serve on the CBL Board of Governors in order to avoid a situation where Mrs. D. Sheba Brown and LACC will be “referee and player” in the exercise of her duties, which may create a situation of “conflict of interest.”
“Presidential appointees serving in government integrity institutions like the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, the General Auditing Commission, and the Internal Audit Secretariat,” according to him, “should not be appointed on boards of government institutions to avoid conflict of interest in the exercise of their respective duties.”
According to Mr. Chilar, Mrs. Brown committed ethical transgressions while serving as Director for Administration at the CBL. She grossly, openly, and defiantly violated a major personnel and administrative policy of the CBL by hiring her son in person of Mr. Rodney Brown in her office under her direct supervision. Rodney Brown still works at the CBL.
“The CBL forbids and prohibits hiring of children, parents, spouses, brothers or sisters of the employees of the CBL and the Director of Administration is responsible to enforce the policy to avoid conflict of interest situation at the CBL,” he said.
“Mrs. Brown’s son, Mr. Rodney Brown, still works at the CBL and so if an issue concerning Mr. Rodney Brown requires the CBL Board of Governors to decide, what will be the role of his MOTHER, Mrs. D. Sheba Brown? Is this not a conflict of interest situation?”
“I am humbly asking all Media Institutions, Civil Society Institutions, Political parties, our Elders and our foreign partners to join me to request the president to withdraw the appointment/nomination of Mrs. D. Sheba Browne to the CBL Board of Governors in the interest of transparency, accountability and good governance in our country, otherwise it will be a very bad precedent,” he said.
“When Mrs. Brown was retired, she requested for severance (tenure) payment for the number of years including that of the National Bank of Liberia (NBL) — now CBL — for which she was previously paid,” Chilar alleged, questioning Brown’s integrity. “The records are there,” he said, adding that the Central Bank was spared the expense when a copy of the payment record, which could not be found on the official records of the bank, was produced by a bank employee (name withheld).
According to Chilar, for reasons of integrity and in order to avoid a situation bordering on conflict of interest, Brown’s appointment as a member of the Central Bank’s Board of Governors should be rescinded by President Weah, he added.
In response, Commissioner D. Sheba Brown said the Code of Conduct (COC) does not allow her to serve the two government institutions, and she is therefore poised to resign from one of the two jobs.
“For the president to appoint me is indeed commendable; I served the CBL for over 30 years and CBL is like a home to me and the LACC is also like a home to me. I will resign from one of the jobs upon receiving a letter from the office of the president,” Mrs. Brown told the Daily Observer in an interview yesterday.
Regarding her son, Mrs. Brown said, “I did not influence the process. Many people were also employed the same time and the Assistant Director for Recruitment can attest to it. Additionally, my son was employed at a very low level and if he was not qualified, he would have been dismissed since my departure or retirement from the CBL.”
Presidential Press Secretary Sam Mannah yesterday told the Daily Observer that President Weah did not err in the appointment of Mrs. Brown.
“It all boils down to where the President feels Madam Brown can better serve,” he Mannah said. “The President is quite aware that Mrs. Brown is a commissioner at the LACC and it was discussed with her prior to her appointment that she would relinquish her role at LACC once she receives her letter of appointment.”