Attorney Garrison Barh, Gobal Bank’s lead lawyer, who was due to appear before the Monrovia City Court on Tuesday, February 21 to answer to theft of property and misapplication of entrusted property charges, is reportedly on the run, this newspaper has reliably learned.
Barh’s action yesterday prompted Magistrate Kennedy Peabody to hold him in contempt, but the court has subsequently given him until today to surrender himself.
Magistrate Peabody said if Barh refuses to come under the court’s jurisdiction today, an order which he had initially promised to obey, the defendant will be rearrested and detained at the Monrovia Central Prison.
The charges were brought against defendant Barh by the Liberia National Police (LNP) following the completion of an investigation of the disappearance of US$67,513 and L$444, 450 at the bank, for which the report allegedly implicated Barh.
The police later turned defendant Barh over to the court for prosecution, when Magistrate Peabody released him without posting a bond with the expectation that the defendant would reappear for hearing on Tuesday. Up to the time court closed yesterday, the whereabouts of Atty. Barh was unknown.
Kennedy’s decision was based on Barh’s status as a lawyer and a prominent person in the society, whom he believed would not attempt to escape justice.
It was also intended to give the attorney an opportunity to file the relevant criminal bond that will prevent him from going to prison.
The investigation allegedly established that Atty. Barh withdrew some of the money directly from customers, who the bank sued before the Debt Court in an attempt to recover loans the customers have refused to pay back.
Defendant Barh initially denied the allegation.
The bank further claimed that Atty. Barh deposited US$67,513 and L$444,450 directly into his personal account.
They further alleged that Barh also used his power-of-attorney to withdraw US$3,000 from payments made to the court by Silver Stone, which is one of the bank’s delinquent loan customers.
Apart from collecting delinquent loan payers’ money, the document claimed that Atty. Barh received from his employer the amount of US$42,000 and L$597,200 intended to notarize 698 copies of loan documents.
Out of the 698 copies, the record also alleged that 326 copies were notarized of which he used US$21,070 and L$146,750 and did not account for the US$20,930 and L$448,750 believed to have been left over.
Barh allegedly prepared a fraudulent document believed to have come from Provident Business Consultancy, which he claimed was the entity that he hired to notarize the documents.
Without the knowledge of the bank, Barh also withdrew 10 percent from almost all the money which delinquent customers paid to the court, the record said.
The bank also gave Atty. Barh US$7,980 and L$2,004 to facilitate the bank‘s legal services, but he has not yet accounted for that money
These were some of the allegations that Barh was due to answer.
Defendant Barh was instructed to reappear before Magistrate Peabody last Tuesday to continue with his case, but up to present his whereabouts is unknown, which prompted the court to hold him in contempt. If Barh does not show up in court today, Thursday, February 23, an order will be put out for his arrest.