Former Pres. Sirleaf, Legislature Off the Hook?

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(L-r) Former CBL boss Milton Weeks before members of the House of Representatives; Former Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay giving clarity of against the authorization to the CBL to print additional bank notes

-In the additional printing of L$10bn, former CBL Executive Governor Weeks fumbles

Former Executive Governor of the Central Bank Liberia (CBL), Milton Weeks has admitted in his testimony before members of the House of Representatives for failing to brief former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on the volume and denominations before the additional printing of the L$10 billion.

Mr. Weeks also stumbled on his interpretation of the “understanding of acquiescence” in a letter from the 53rd Legislature, of which he believed was an “expressed authority.”

The flip of Mr. Weeks’ understanding appears to have exonerated former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was accused of illegally authorizing Governor Weeks, as well as the Legislature, to print additional banknotes instead of the stipulated L$5 billion, based on their July 19, 2017, letter.

In the Thursday’s Extraordinary Session, which marked the 4th day sitting, Mr. Weeks admitted not bringing the former President up-to-date as she instructed him in her letter of August 7, 2017, in response to his (Mr. Weeks) letter of July 31, 2017, for additional printing of the money.

In the former president’s letter, which was read in session, Mrs. Sirleaf acknowledged the receipt of the CBL letter and the concern of the Legislature in replacing the old Liberty banknotes with the newly printed ones, but instructed the CBL that, after furnishing the Legislature with the volume and denomination before the additional printing, she too must be furnished.

In reaction to the clarity presented by former House Speaker Atty. J. Emmanuel Nuquay, that letter to the CBL, dated July 19, 2017, was not an “expressed authority”. Instead, it authorized the CBL to replace the parallel Liberian banknotes with the L$5 billion newly printed banknotes, and then furnish the Legislature on the volume and denomination of the would-be printing of additional Liberian banknotes. Mr. Weeks said the letter was, “in his mind,” an authority because of an earlier discussion between the CBL and the leadership of the House of Representatives as well as the Senate.

“The CBL believed it was an authority… and in my mind, it was the full authority,” Mr. Weeks said.

He said prior to that letter, the CBL wrote former Speaker Nuquay and former President Pro Tempore Armah Z. Jallah of the need for an additional printing of Liberian banknotes in the amount of LD$10 billion.

The former CBL boss narrated that under his management, the CBL printed LD$15 billion and received all the money from the Crane Currency Company of Sweden.

In a letter of July 19, 2017, the CBL said: “We present our compliments and by the Plenaries of Senate and the House of Representatives (in session) respectively, apprise you that in separate discussions on the declining state of the Liberian economy, the Legislature has made the following decision to wit.

“The Government of Liberia should continue to use the United States dollars and the Liberian dollars until at such time the country’s export base has improved significantly. The Central Bank of Liberia is hereby requested to replace the legacy notes (Liberty) with the newly printed banknotes so that there will be a single type of Liberian currency, thus facilitating proper control of the money supply; and that the Central Bank of Liberia is authorized to introduce coins in lower denominations into the economy to allow fractional transaction which could help to minimize inflation.”

The letter further said: “In view of the above, and with the power assigned with the Legislature under Article 35(d) of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, this shall constitute your legal and sufficient authority.

“Meanwhile, the Legislature would request that you furnish it with the appropriate details of the volume and denominations of the replacing banknotes prior to the printing and minting of coins.”

It was signed by Madam Mildred N. Sayon, Chief Clerk, the House of Representatives and Mr. Naborlor F. Singbe, Sr., Secretary, the Senate.

Meanwhile, in a motion proffered by Bomi County District #1 Representative, Edwin M. Snowe, Mr. Weeks and the Board Members of the CBL, between 2016 to August 2018, are to appear to continue the investigation as well as their schedules to avoid generating a conflict with the investigation of other institutions.

17 COMMENTS

  1. “Meanwhile, the Legislature would request that you furnish it with the appropriate details of the volume and denominations of the replacing banknotes prior to the printing and minting of coins.”

    Per the above quoted sentence reportedly emanating from the Legislature to the CBL, it buttresses Mr. Weeks’ argument that the instruction was ambiguous, which could therefore be interpreted one way as giving full authorization to the bank to print whatever “the volume and denominations of the replacing banknotes,” but only apprise the Legislature, “prior to the printing and minting of coins.” Because the Legislature was already aware of, and had already authorized the printing of replacement banknotes, so it could not logically be asking the CBL to furnish it again, with the “volume and denominations” of same. Rather, the Legislature’s only concern was to be “furnished with the volume and denominations of the replacing banknotes, prior to the printing and minting of coins.” That was therefore a sort of “blank check” or free rein imbedded in that authorization in my view, as the case may be.

    • It certainly appears the letter may have given authority to the Central Bank given its poor construction but the last paragraph in my view restricted the Central Bank. Mr. Weeks consciously understood the authority portion but ignored the part that instructed him to furnish the Legislature before using the authority. Mr. Weeks simply took advantage of the weakness of the letter which I believe the leadership of both Houses might not have read.

      • These are some of the key reasons why A REPEAL OF THIS LAW LEGALIZING A DE FACTO AND TOTALLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL FOURTH BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT (TENURED POSITIONS) IS QUITE NECESSARY, AND MUST BE SEEN TO BE DONE WITHOUT ANY DELAY!

        • @ Dortu-Siboe Doe:
          Your blind loyalty for President Weah is preposterous! Many Liberians give President Weah credit where credit is due, and yet, many Liberians criticize him where criticism is due.

          However, your perpetual habit to mislead the Liberian public whenever this inexperience government does something wrong only leads this government down a slippery slope toward dictatorship.

          All your sanctimonious flattery of President Weah on the internet, whom you worship like a Cult Leader, is dangerous toward the positive development of this new government that vowed to be transparent and also professed to look out for the poor people of Liberia.

          Remember, Mr. Doe, Our New Found Democracy is better served when our democratic system is based on ‘checks and balances”. Such system of government serves as a wedge among the three branches of government in order to avoid concentration of power in one branch of government….as is currently developing in this new government before our eyes.

          From my Operation Research On Dortu-Siboe Doe: I came across this interesting rebuttal found on the internet posted by Counsellor Charles K. Sunwabe Jr. on Jan. 2013 questioning Dortu-Siboe Doe so-called legal credentials.

          Dortu-Siboe Doe wrote Attorney Alvin Teage-Jalloh during his (Atty. Jalloh) infamous lawsuit @ the Supreme Court of Liberia challenging the 1973 “automatic loss” of Liberian citizenship which was dismissed.

          However, the blind loyalist of President Weah, the so-called intellectual legal scholar and international law specialist, Dortu-Siboe Doe, cowardly avoided a legal response to Counsellor Sunwabe’s challenging his legal qualification? See Cllr. Sunwabe letter posted below to refresh your memory Mr. Doe!!!

          Cllr.Sunwabe Replies Dortu-Siboe-Doe (Extracted from the internet, Jan. 2013)

          Dear Mr. Dortu-Siboe-Doe:

          Happy New Year, my dear brother! It has been quite a while since I became familiar with your virulent response to my question. I sent out an email to interested readers on the Every- Liberian list-serve on December 5, 2012, asking if you were absolutely certain about a particular “legal position” that you had advocated in your debate with Attorney Alvin Teage-Jalloh. My question was asked in good faith and out of curiosity. I had no prior malicious or suspicious intent, when I asked you.

          Candidly I anticipated an educated response, since you had previously professed to be an “attorney” and a “scholar.” Along these lines, I expected actual case-law from the Liberian Supreme Court or a reasonable legal analysis that tended to remotely support and offer credence to your position. I wanted to become educated, as far as the foundation of your assertion. Regrettably, you offered little, if anything, in this direction.

          Surprisingly, you responded to my honest and innocent question in “the typical Liberian fashion”:You became insulting, dismissive, and unnecessarily demeaning. In the process, you not only failed to answer my question, but engaged in a behavior that was questionable and raised question about your professed legal scholarship.

          Please allow me to address your response to my communication. According to you, my question regarding the certainty of your advocated legal position was an “illogical” undertaking. In fact, you wanted me to jump in and state a position rather than asking you “illogical question”. Mr. Legal Scholar, this position of yours is murky and acutely disconcerting.

          Let me point out that lawyers and judges routinely asked questions—mainly to unearth the truth, adopt or change legal positions, and to advocate their clients’ particular position. In fact, asking questions is a vital legal tool—lawyers who ask good questions are highly effective in and out of the courtroom. Additionally, they tend to write effective legal briefs and motions. Thus, I argue the questioning skills of lawyers are essential, cardinal, and central to the practice of law.

          It is stunning, if not totally unheard of, for a professed attorney to begrudgingly dismiss a pertinent and pointed question as being illogical. In the ongoing debate between you and Attorney Jalloh, my question was pointed directly at your advocated legal position. From a lawyer’s perspective, a sufficient or minimally acceptable legal response was anticipated.

          Your response in this capacity, in concert with the sum total of your writings regarding Mr. Jalloh’s pending lawsuit challenging the 1973 “automatic loss” of citizenship law, leaves one with the impression that you are not a licensed or practicing attorney. No serious attorney, irrespective of his or her jurisdiction of practice or place of legal education, would respond to a well-intentioned question as you have done here.

          You did not answer my question and I am still inclined to ask you even more pointed questions: What case law (from the Republic of Liberia) are you relying on to support your assertion? Where are your legal analyses? Where are the Liberian constitutional provisions that you believe support your position regarding the automatic loss of citizenship question? How are you applying those provisions?

          For some of us who have followed the debate between you and Mr. Jalloh, it is a foregone conclusion that you have offered nothing remotely substantive or legally coherent. You have offered a number of poorly researched Google’s legal terms and opinions. These Google’s legal terms have not been analyzed and applied with the unique skills of a lawyer. In fact, they are starting to appear like a display of infantile legal preoccupation—they lack serious legal intuition and scrutiny.

          Lastly, in responding to my question, you intentionally omitted the original list-serve that was used to communicate my question to you. By not including the original medium of communication, you directly created the impression that I was somehow incapable of responding to your “legal” opinion. It is unacceptable for a professed scholar to behave in this erroneous manner. Please include me on the original list-serves of communications, in all future engagements.

          As for the other issue you raised, know that we, the friends of Attorney Alvin Teage Jalloh, will make gifts to support his lawsuit against the Liberian government.
          Thanks,

          Charles Kwalonue Sunwabe, Jr., Esq.
          Arlington, Virginia
          703-402-8589

          p/s: Dortu-Siboe Doe professed Juris Doctor (Doctor of Law) is questionable?

          • Mr. Sunwabe, I suspect Mr. Doe is either a fake or a very incompetent lawyer. He has been wrong on so many legal issues that he’s not fit to be a lawyer. He is insane.

      • That letter did not give any authority to the CBL to print any additional money. The CBL simply considered itself being a de facto fourth branch of government, hence needed no authority from anywhere to print additional money. This is one of the key reasons why this law on tenured positions should be repealed without any delay, for that law, besides doing more harm than good (as proven in this case), is totally unconstitutional.

        • Can you explain the correlation between unauthorized printing of currency and tenure? I don’t see the correlation. Didn’t you say before there was no missing money? So now that the former CBL governor says he printed L$10 Billion more, do you care to know what happened to that money? He needs to give account of the money. You’re a damn liar.

    • This was also my interpretation of the final paragraph. “Before you order the coins, inform us of the volume and denominations of the bills these coins are meant to replace.”

  2. Milton Weeks’decision to print additional bank notes in new denomination has nothing to do with him occupying a tenured position, he opted to flagrantly violate the law for reasons best known to himself.

  3. The letter instructed the CBL to replace ALL of the money in circulation (around $15 billion). They had printed $5 Billion in new notes already and had already started the process of introducing them. So how can former speaker Nunuay say that the Legislature was instructing the CBL to only introduce the $5 Billion that they had already authorized! In essence he (Nunquay) said they wanted the CBL to remove $15 Billion in legacy notes already in circulation and only replace it will $5B in new notes?!?! That does not make any sense whatsoever.

    The letter was poorly written and very ambiguous. Whether the ambiguity of the letter was intentional or not Weeks erred by not seeking further clarification from them and is now the fall guy for their incompetence. Many of these Legislators are marginally educated, so aside of not knowing how to properly perform their functions as representatives of the people I’m willing to bet many of them can’t even write a well structured sentence. He should have known who he was dealing with.

  4. These Clowns CDC representatives should be asking where is the money ( who took charge of the container full of money) not printing the money. Printing the money is not the crime here… the Weah government stealing the money is the crime.

    The Weah government want to use the technicality of printing the money to hide the fact that they stole the money.

    • Yup, where is the money is the big question. Somebody stole the money and we need to find out. Hopefully we will get there. “Everyday for thief, one day for master” like we say in Liberia. Mr. Weeks will have to tell us what happened to the money.

    • Mr. Weeks will have to show verifiable evidence on how the CBL used those funds. Bit-by-bit we are inching towards the truth. I suspect Mr. Weeks is trying to get ahead of the US investigators because he knows they will make their findings public as promised.

  5. An anonymous philosopher once said, “The price of power is responsibility for the public good.”

    If the press didn’t report on the purported missing money saga, this government would have kept the Liberian public in the dark.

    It’s is ridiculous to see how lawmakers and high ranking government officials behave when it comes to governing in Liberia. The blame game about who authorized or did not authorize the printing of LD$15b continues unabated, and it does not tell the public what happened to the missing money.

    The key point now is for the central bank to make available all records regarding the actual amount of money printed; how much money was infused or not infused into the economy.

    Furthermore, the central bank should present a detailed time-line of all transactions from the time the first batch of money entered into the country, to the time when the last batch of money came into the country. This detailed record should be notarized and authenticated by a reputable international Forensic audit.

    It is so sad to know that Liberians don’t trust their own government due to corruption and lack of transparency.

  6. I can fix Liberia! I can fix everything and create a fair and transparent government for the Liberian people and it will not steal from the people like the previous regimes, but it will cost. Under my experimental ideology and form of government, Liberia would be a successful country in just 10 years time.

  7. OPI

    You made a very good point when you touched on the “the marginal education” of our law makers as one of the contributing factors to the lack of clarity in the “missing money confusion”. Such an indictment is necessary to wake us up from our sleep; and, it therefore brings forth the following questions:

    How can a nation run a functional democracy when a large number of those who are elected to office do not understand the inner-workings of democracy, or have neither attained a rigorously formal education?

    How can individuals craft legislation as lawmakers when they are not knowledgeable in the law, and have not a grasp of Grammar and English construction?

    Many Liberians especially the illiterate and uneducated masses have no verifiable mechanism to tell whether a particular individual who is running for an office is qualified for it. Neither do they make the conscious effort in checking the backgrounds of candidates; nor ask themselves why other countries are moving ahead, but we are not. Why can’t they see that a house will crumble if during the laying of its foundation, the round pegs are put in the square holes?

    A candidate’s tribal affiliation and his ability to appeal to his emotions is all that matters around election time. Unless Liberians can fathom the ramifications of these serious improprieties and make the attempt to address them, this dysfunction will continue to hurt the nation.

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