The drama unfolded on Monday, June 8, in the ongoing Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) L$16 billion trial at Criminal Court ‘C’, when state prosecutors dropped charges contained in the second indictment against former Executive Governor, Milton Weeks and subsequently served the third one on him.
Interestingly, at Monday’s hearing, Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay accepted state prosecutors’ request to drop the first charges that include economic sabotage, theft of property, criminal conspiracy and criminal solicitation that were placed in the second indictment dated 2019 against Weeks.
Judge Gbeisay also refused to make any decision regarding the third indictment dated June 3, 2020, that include former members of the CBL Board of Governors including its Chairman, Mr. David M. Fahart, and Melisa Emeh, Kollie Tamba and Elsie Dossen Badio, all members of the Board of Governors respectively.
The new indictment against the former board of governors has charges that range from the theft of property, fraud on the internal revenue of Liberia, misuse of public money, property or record theft, and or illegal disbursement of public money, criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation.
Weeks was the only person served with his indictment and writ of arrest on Monday, June 8, at which time Judge Gbeisay assured the parties that he needs time to look into the conditions that were set during the second indictment.
It all started on Monday and contrary to speculations and anticipations that state prosecutors would have dropped charges against Weeks as was done in the case with other co-defendants that include Richard Walker, Director for Operations, Dorbor Hagba, Director for Finance Department and Mr. Joseph Dennis, Deputy Director for Internal Audit, this did not happen.
Instead, the government raised different arguments about the new indictments that include the former members of the Board of Governors of the CBL.
A similar decision was taken in favor of suspended Deputy Executive Governor for operations, Charles Sirleaf and Crane Currency, a Swedish money printing company, but in the instance of these two, charges were dropped “with prejudice to the state, meaning that government cannot call them back to answer to the L$16 billion case anymore.
“The court is aware that a new indictment has been issued by the state prosecutors against Weeks and others,” Judge Gbeisay told the parties, “and that appropriate orders have been given to issue the appropriate precepts to have defendant Weeks brought under the court’s jurisdiction.”
Judge Gbeisay explained that with reference to Weeks, being allowed to benefit from the previous property valuation bond, said “action is within the sound discretion of the judge and that the Court will review the records of the past indictment including the charges contained therein and the behavior of Weeks who was indicted earlier.”
The judge went on “the Court will ascertain further and assess whether the property valuation bond used to indemnify the defendant is still intact and whether the sureties of this property are still available”, adding that “on the basis of said view, this Court shall proceed to use its discretion in favor of or against defendant Weeks.”
Initially, Weeks’ lawyers contended that they did not object to the new indictment, but said the indictment is the third state lawyers have solicited, obtained and served on Weeks which, according to the lawyers, “is of undue burden that Weeks has endured particularly in procuring a bond, because, each time an indictment is obtained and served on Weeks, he has to file a bond.”
They also pleaded with Judge Gbeisay saying, “permit the current property valuation bond and sureties to be resurrected as and when the new indictment and writ of arrest is served on Weeks.”
In addition, the lawyers argued that, as regards the property valuation bond and the surety, Weeks has fully complied and will continue to comply with all the additional conditions associated with and connected to the bond.
In view of this, Weeks’ legal team argued that, “the court should temporarily release Weeks when the new indictment is introduced on the current bond to ensure his day-to-day appearance as of when commanded and remanded by the court.”
Following his first arrest, Co-defendant Milton A. Weeks, the former executive governor of the CBL, filed a property evaluation bond in the amount of US$909,319.88 to secure his release from pre-trial detention.
His bond was secured by properties secured by Mr. Benoni W. Urey, who owns property located on the Police Academy Road with an assessed value of US$163,291.58, as evidenced by the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) tax assessment. Additionally, Atty. Angelique G. Eupheme Weeks and Mr. and Mrs. Dewitt von Ballmoos, with the values of their properties as US$240,000 and US$506,026.30, respectively, secured the bond for the former CBL Governor Weeks.