Gov’t Prevents Weeks, Sirleaf, Others from Leaving the Country

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Weeks (left), who headed the CBL under former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration, has been declared a person of interest to the investigation along with his deputy, Charles Sirleaf (middle), son of former President Sirleaf and thirteen other persons. The announcement was made by Information Minister Eugene Nagbe (right).

While investigation into the reported disappearance of L$16 billion as confirmed by Information Minister, Lenn Eugene Nagbe, is yet underway, the government has restricted the movement of individuals who it believes can help solve the mystery of the lost containers.

The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) by an executive mandate, in a press release yesterday, ordered all security apparatus, particularly the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), and the Liberia National Police (LNP) to ensure that former Central Bank Executive Governor, Milton Weeks and his deputy, Charles Sirleaf who is still employed at the CBL, do not leave the country until investigation into the mystery is completed.

Weeks, who headed the CBL under former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration, has been declared a person of interest to the investigation along with his deputy, Charles Sirleaf, son of former President Sirleaf and thirteen other persons. “The Government takes the ongoing investigation seriously because it has National Security Implications,” the release said.

The MICAT press release, signed by Minister Nagbe said “The Government has issued a security circular advising persons of interest who are required to assist with the ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding the importation of Liberian Dollar Banknotes into the country between November 2017 and August 2018 not to leave the country.”

Mr. George Abi Jaoudi, owner and operator of Abi Jaoudi businesses across the country is another big name wanted by the investigation team and has, therefore, been named as one of the fifteen persons ordered not to leave the country.

“Authorities at all points of entry and exit, including land borders, air, and sea ports have been directed to take due cognizance of the circular,” the release further noted. Others wanted by the investigation team which comprises of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), the LNP and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) include Richard Walker, Mariea E.G. Toe, Musulyn R.B. Jackson, Ophelia Nyenpan and Oldada Deshield.

The release also named Prince Bull, J. Barquolleh Gabriel, Theodosia B. Jreh, Zinna Davison and Solomon Jaykpah as persons of interest to the investigation who are also not to leave the country.

Kollie Ballah and Andrew Pabai were also listed as persons of interest who are required, as in the case of other persons named, to stay in the country and help with the ongoing investigation.

With the collection of statements from the persons of interest having begun already at the LNP headquarters in Monrovia, CBL former Executive Governor, Milton Weeks is expected to appear before the Police today at 10 a.m. to assist in the investigation.

In a release on Monday September 17, the MoJ said: “Evidence available to the Investigative Team has established that the current administration was not informed about the arrival of the containers and bags of money into the country.”

The release, issued under the signature of Justice Minister and Attorney General Cllr. Frank Musa Dean, Jr., said: “As this is an ongoing and active investigation, the release of information to the public will be measured against the need to preserve the sanctity of the investigation and ensure that professional standards are not compromised.”

The above statement did not, however, confirm the validity of the allegations, and the question now resonating in the public is, who could possibly be involved in the deal, and does the allegation confirm any procedure that may have been used by the Liberian government, through the Central Bank of Liberia, to bring money into the country?

The Central Bank of Liberia, in a telephone conversation Monday, flatly denied that containers consisting of bags of money had allegedly disappeared from the Freeport of Monrovia. “The CBL will issue an official statement on the situation today,” CBL’s Communication Director Cyrus Badio said. The records however show differently and make nonsense of Badio’s denial.

Prior to the leak of the information to the media, informed sources told the Daily Observer there intelligence reports indicated that a huge consignment of printed Liberian banknotes, via the various ports of entry, had entered the country. This is confirmed by records detailing such information as the bills of lading, name of consignee, the arrival date of the containers and the dates on which they were checked out of the Freeport of Monrovia.

There is however little evidence to suggest neither that President Weah or his officials were actually informed by the then outgoing government it had pursued such q course of action to print additional Liberian dollars/ “We are doing our analysis of reports of illegal money printing and entry into the country,” the source said.

It may be recalled that a local daily reported last week that agents of the National Security Agency(NSA) as well as the Liberia National Police(LNP) on September 13, 2018, raided the offices of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) whose officers are alleged to have signed off for the container before it left the port.

The report has generated a lot of interest in social media. But the truth of the matter will be revealed as CBL provides its side of the story and as government security agencies work to reveal what might have happened as well as who might have been behind the mystery ship that reportedly brought such a huge consignment of money into the country only for it to allegedly disappear, like night at the break of day, while millions of Liberians, desperately in need of hard cash for economic and infrastructural development, wallow in base poverty. However, the identity of the shipping lines that brought the money into the country is revealed: MAERSK Liberia Limited.

According to a matrix of activities provided by a source within the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), a copy of which is with the Daily Observer from 2016, 2017 and 2018, the CBL detailed its activities with MAERSK Liberia Limited in three major transactions from 2016, 2017 and 2018. The CBL brought three shipments to the country and took delivery of the contents of the ships. The Bill of Laden numbers for the first shipment brought into the country were 570422072, 710775940 and 710779058. Their Declaration References were C-6694, C-1141 and C-7250. The first container’s commodity description was marked Liberian Banknotes and it was marked MRK-905-0460, though it did not say how much money and in what denominations were in it. This particular container that contained the Liberian Banknotes also had 47 other packages in it.

The second container in 2016 was marked MRSU-008-6377 and the commodity description was PRINTED MATERIAL. The last container marked MRSU-023-9049 the commodity description was marked PRINTED MATERIAL.

In 2017, the CBL again brought two containers into the country. According the records the two containers came on 21 and 28 of November 2017 and their special release dates were December 18, 2017 and November 20, 2017. The first one had MACHINERY as its commodity description and the second one had PRINTED MATERIAL.

1n 2018 the CBL brought in three separate consignments. The first two containers arrived in Liberia on January 17 and February 3, 2018 and their commodity description were marked PRINTED MATERIALS. The third container arrived on 25 March 2018 and it did not have any commodity description on it and the dates they left the country, that is the Freeport of Monrovia were also not marked.

What this information strongly suggests is for the General Auditing Commission to conduct a forensic audit of the government of President Sirleaf for accountability purposes if for nothing else than to know the full truth, according to observers.

Authors

30 COMMENTS

  1. “…1n 2018 the CBL brought in three separate consignments. The first two containers arrived in Liberia on January 17 and February 3, 2018 and their commodity description were marked PRINTED MATERIALS. The third container arrived on 25 March 2018 and it did not have any commodity description on it and the dates they left the country, that is the Freeport of Monrovia were also not marked.”
    So are you suggesting by your assertion, “What this information strongly suggests is for the General Auditing Commission to conduct a forensic audit of the government of President Sirleaf for accountability purposes if for nothing else than to know the full truth,” that the previous administration be accountable for something done after its term in office? I am not unmindful of your caveat that the remarks is attributed to fake “observers,” but the fact that you used such blather as finding in your “investigatory” report puts the onus on you. Very farfetched!

  2. In Order to complete a full scale investigation into the missing container at the Free Port of Monrovia, I personally believe that several more witnesses needs to be subpoenaed to testify. The list generated by the National Security Agency and the Ministry of Information is incomplete. I will recommend that the following person be brought in to testify: Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former Governors of Central Bank Mills Jones, Former Finance Ministers Amara Konneh, Boimah Kamara, Former Managing Director of NPA David William, Acting Managing Director Cecelia Cuffy Brown, Port Operating Manager,APM Terminal,LRA officials, Custom collectors, Commissioner of customs,Ministry of Commerce officials, Flatbed Driver who drove the container out of the port, Port Gate Security officers,ERU officers Thomas Nyepan ID#4194,ERU officer Dessa Kamara ID#2727, ERU officer Perry Karry ID#0367, ERU officer Moses Kwamie ID#2748ERU officer Anthony Blaye ID#0944 Police officer Moses AD ID#1904 Police officer Cholopleh, Police officer Emmanuel Kolie,Police office Laura Z. Dennis , Police officer Patrick Kennedy Jr. and Port Official AK Leimei. When these people who were somehow connected with this and other containers dating back from 2016 and up to 2018, we will be able to realize the source and what happened. Just to let the public know, President Weah was never informed during transaction about the container.

    • Yes he (Weah) was never informed of the packages or containers that arrived in 2016 but how about the ones that arrived in February and March of this year? The past and present governments are both culpable. I cannot see why you want to blame Ellen and not blame Weah. The both were negligent, irresponsible and culpable for the disappearance of containers or packages of money that arrived in the country during their watch. They both have to be questioned and their people that held the various positions of trust.

  3. Below is an earlier comment I posted on a related story and believe it’s worth posting here.

    Statements by the Ministry of Justice and the Information Ministry that have already suggest culpability on the prior administration, and no ownership on the current administration, inspite of the dates of actual delivery creates
    an appearance of conflict of interest already in the investigation by the current administration.

    As such, I suggest an Independent Counsel probe be established to prosecute this case. There’s got to be a non-partisan seasoned Lawyer, whether retired or active in the country who can rise up to the occasion and perform this task.

    In the U.S, under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 Act, Congress or the Justice Department can appoint a Special Prosecutor, now called Independent Counsel, to investigate matters such as this facing Liberia that may have the appearance of conflict of interest if the Justice Department or Congress directly investigated it. This does not prevent the Liberian Legislature from conducting its Legislative hearings on the matter. But to avoid conflict of interest due to the political nature if current or former public officials are suspected, there needs to be an Independent Counsel for a credible non-partisan prosecution of the matter. As such, the independence of the investigation with statutory authority granted to Independent Counsel is warranted. If no such Act exists, the President should call the Legislature into an emergency session to pass an Independence Counsel Act. To speed the proceedings, they can add it as an amendment to the statute dealing with Code of Ethics.

    This Independent Counsel will have statutory authority to go after any official linked to the authorization, printing, transport, receiving and delivery of the money. He would have the ability to seek Court’s suppeona to go after anyone suspected of having useful information. The Justice Ministry and Information Ministry have already compromised the current administration’s independence in the investigation of the unaccounted money by their public statements that appears to suggest culpability lies with the prior administration. So, it would be unexpected of them to support any suggestion that blames any official of this administration, regardless of the evidence obtained.

  4. Seize all passports and traveling documents of past and present government officials and any employee entangled in the illegally printed missing money saga until final resolution!!!!

    How could such astronomical amount of allegedly printed money (approx… 15 billion or more LD) vanished without a trace. Something smells fishy here! Either incoming shipment procedures were not followed or this was a deliberate clandestine act to keep the public in the dark of dumping more money in an already stagnated economy.

    There are protocols to follow which I presumed were not followed when the consignment arrived.

    Who inspected all the incoming shipment? Where did the consignment come from? Who was the recipient of these printed banknotes? Who signed the containers tags, and who recorded that these containers were received? Were the containers properly recorded to match the received items to the description stated on the accompanying bill of lading? Who signed for these containers to leave the port of entry? There are too many unanswered inventory questions and complete silence of former CBL officials and former Finance Ministers as to the disappearance of such large sum of illegally printed money.

    The disappearance of such large amount of illegally printed banknotes could now be circulating in the Liberian market. This illegal supply of money circulating in an already inflated market causes hyperinflation (a drastic jump in prices).

    This act of dumping printed money into a weak economy poses a security risk to the nation: Prices of goods would cost more. Borrowing money would be expensive. Adjustable Mortgage Rates could go up if (AMR) is practiced in Liberia. People will panic and begin to hoard goods like Ghanaian did in the ‘70s. Last but not least, government revenue will diminish with over inflated currencies.

    The illegal printing of money speaks volume to some of the undercover works executed by the Sirleaf administration to pump more illegally printed money into an already fragile economy as a means to quick fix a weak economy under her watch. Her quick-fix, Knee-jerk solution could only cause instability in an already inflated market.

    The ball is now in President Weah’s court to trace the missing printed money. To investigate the actual quantity of money illegally printed and why, and take necessary legal actions to hold all those responsible (past and present administration) in such clandestine economic sabotage of the Liberian economy…..that is now causing untold suffering on ordinary Liberians.

  5. But credible Daily Observer, could the public kindly obtain A CLARIFICATION ON WHETHER THE ACTUAL AMOUNT IS 16 BILLION U.S.. DOLLARS OR16 BILLION LIBERIAN DILLARS.

    We do not think is 16 billion U.S. Dollars, since the printing of the notes was made by the Republic of Liberia. So, please rectify that error of “$16 billion dollars ” in your lead.

      • Exactly, I am surprise that he has come to comment here instead of the FPA. I think he is smelling the rat about his patron activities. The D.O. is now becoming a “typhoid” . Damaging the hard earned credits of notable Journalists: The Late: Stanton Peabody, T.Max Teah, Rufus Darpoh and many other notables. The Veteran Kenneth Best is now unable to write his stories as it used to be, so he turned things over to his son-Bai, who not being a Journalist is heavily relying on the propagandist, John H.T. Stewart to editor the paper, do you see how it has sunk so low? it has now become a tissue paper instead of an authoritative paper, see this one-sided story written by this one-time acclaimed paper. It is being run by a failed T.R.C. renegade, who is trying to claimed some relevance for doing nothing but was always crying for pay to support his grand daughter. A shabby piece of work that they are trying to support international, why did Dr. Arthur F. Kulah resigned? Because of poor management of resources. Lets buried the Daily Observer now, it death was announced when the Veteran Kenneth Y.Best retired.
        Thanks.

  6. To have involved a Lebanese national( a foreigner residing and doing business in Liberia) and giving him the unsupervised role in the printing of the Liberian currency in his home country, Lebanon, is an unpatriotic act, tantamount to death by firing squad. This is high treason and an economic sabotage of the Liberian economy. This is an attempt by the Ellen Johnson criminal cartel to make our people poorer. That is why the market was flooded with Liberian dollars just before Sirleaf transferred power to Weah so that Weah can bear the brunt of her evil deeds. Ellen Johnson must be held accountable for this fraud and treasonous act committed against the State. She and her Lebanese accomplice must be brought to justice. No one is above the law. ” Vox Populi, Vox Dei”(“the voice of the people is the voice of God.” Bring all of the culprits to justice without delay.

  7. Okay so far, progress is being made as it relates to locating the missing or stolen money from the Freeport of Monrovia. Some Liberian reprobates of interest in the whacky world of theft are being questioned. I wish the investigators well. In an earlier post, I expressed cautious optimism that the real culprits would be nabbed. I am still hopeful.

    I am not a coward! But I am fearful because when the looters are nabbed, they will be unpunished. I write from the standpoint of experience. I could list a litany of horrendous issues where corrupt Liberians were involved. Whereas there was ample evidence of malfeasance on the part of the corrupt Liberian officials, nothing was done to punish them.

    I could be wrong here. Weah is a different guy. Maybe, Weah will prove to be the activist crime buster president he promises to be. He deserves my benefit of the doubt. But as president, I strongly believe that his pronouncements on theft overall will send a powerful message.

    I am personally concerned about the courts, the judiciary! Will the courts forgive the looters once they’re found?

    We’ll just wait and see what happens.

    • Weah doesn’t have the guts to prosecute anybody. In fact he hired several known criminals from Charles Taylor government as advisers. Nothing will come out of this missing money. He’s all talk no action – same as EJS.

  8. Not the maggots(Milton Weeks, Charles Sirleaf, George Abijoudi, Richard Walker, Ophelia Nyenpan, etc. etc.) but the rotten carcass( Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf) should be brought to justice for contracting and conniving with her Lebanese business partner in secretly printing Liberian currency in Lebanon and then flooding the market with Liberian dollars to create hardship for our people. Ellen is the main culprit. Bring her to account, as “justice delayed is justice denied.”

  9. I would like to suggest that, there should be a ten year SPECIFIC CASH ENGAGEMENT with domestic and international auditing firms to authenticate cash input and output by Liberia’s government through the Central Bank.

  10. Gotombo,
    I couldn’t agree with you more! If it is true that a Lebanese national is involved in printing Liberian money, we might as well sell our country to the angels of satan, otherwise known as demons. That’ll teach us a lesson.

    Here is another rumor that I heard about a year ago. It’s been said that our country’s pharmaceuticals are purchased by a foreign national. Whereas we’ve got good foreign trained Liberian doctors, why should medical supplies be purchased by foreigners? I don’t get it! Of course, the foregoing rumor was related to me before Weah became president. If it is true, it’s my hope and prayer that Weah will put a complete stop to it. After all, it’s been 171 years plus since we declared to the world that we could govern ourselves. Or, was that a joke?

    What irks me most is the fact that Liberians do not use coins in their monetary activity. I don’t know of a country that refuses to use coins in their country. None! Nada! Zilch! We therefore have a dubious distinction of being the only country that uses no coins. How could that be beneficial?

  11. For starters, when the same Central Bank Governor Weeks reported in early 2017 that USD $536.13 million was illegally transferred by various depositors in Liberia to foreign banks’ accounts abroad, had the Criminal Justice System, GAC, or LACC showed an iota of interest in finding out whether some of those amounts weren’t fraudulently obtained, the perpetrators of this infamy, in the midst of economic stagnation-driven pervasive poverty, wouldn’t have dared! In other words, whomsoever are the incorrigible rogues that carried out this unconscionable crime took advantage of systemic nonchalance, apathy, and paralysis of all of us regarding protection of state properties. Because simply put, the criminals made risk/ loss calculations they would not be caught, and if caught won’t be severely punished.

    And what I cannot wrap my head around is the controversy over on whose watch – UP or CDC – the phantom L$16 billions container disappeared. Apparently, as usual, President Weah’s voracious detractors are pinning this case on him. However, from a crime’s investigation perspective, time of theft is immaterial; after all, not that there is a statute of limitation for prosecution of felonious theft, such as fraudulent conversion, embezzlement, forgery, etc.

    The crux of this cruel caper boils down to painstakingly collecting and collating all relevant facts of the container’s journey. After all, shippers from port of origin sent Manifest of contents and thier Free On Board (FOB) documentation of payments and insurance that were verified at NPA, and upon off-loading by buyer or addressee, CBL. Normally, such containers will be escorted by security, port, and customs personnel to ensure contrabands like weapons, drugs and so on aren’t being sent along. This suggests the trail of container shouldn’t be mysterious, unless diverted somewhere else while en route to CBL or contents taken out later from the bank. Furthermore, figuring out whether contents were illegally in circulation would need matching serial numbers on the denominations shipped; and it isn’t rocket science, either.

    To end, most likely, a bulk of the loot is still in hiding, hence, handling suspects with kids’ gloves because it is a white collar crime – not armed robbery – won’t do it. Definitely, at this juncture, those at CBL who took physical possession of container and contents of cash that weren’t put in bank vaults as expected should be detained, otherwise some of the loot would never be recovered. This case concerns, perhaps, the greatest robbery in our country’s history, thus, let the Criminal Justice System investigative thoroughly and effectively to ensure successfull prosecution and conviction of accused persons within a short time. But, please, Citizens don’t turn into a political football the shameless criminality of con artists in coat and pant suits; instead, lock them up and throw away the keys if found guilty in our play play Liberia!

  12. Correction, felonious thefts have a statute of limitations according to different countries, but usually no less than a year; ours need to be researched, yourh!

  13. Governor Weeks, you have to leave town as soon as possible. The regime is looking for a fall guy. You may be part of the political related families, or you may think you are. But of late the once political influence associated with the political related families is not more . Ellen and Weah are tag team, and may just agree to throw you understand the bus to save her beloved son . Don’t believe ? The House of Representatives just violated a Deputy Minister’s constitutional rights , and off to jail he went . The House has shamefully disregarded the Supreme Court of the land, and the Senate is about to fix its own rules to fire a Supreme Court Justice . Let the Liberian people say what they want , but at least you are alive and free to tell the story in another country about what actually went on at the bank or the ports . Get out of there why you can ! Trying to be a hero for the truth, that will be a heavy price to pay. Get the hell out of that country by any means necessary without being caught .

  14. By the way, Band of George Weah Bashers, Mr. Dortu-Siboe Doe has free expression right like everybody else, and attempts at censoring him is waste of time.

    Not even the previous government could stop – in this Information Age – FPA’s online reporting after unlawfully closing down the newspaper and illegally detaining Rodney Sieh for publishing an unclassified public document, such as an audit report. Some of us are wary of Rodney’s undeniably pro-ANC partisan rhetoric because we know that a media outlet need not succumb to political patronage should it want to be independent as required by journalistic ethics. As a matter of fact, Dortu and I have lavished praises on him for some reports and insightful editorials; after all, FPA is very significant in Liberia’s Media space. However, when Rodney apes the US Cable News political-advocacy journalism of FOX and MNSBC, we as critical readers have a duty to hold him accountable, too.

    Without doubt, unless civic-minded critical readers understand and take seriously their role in the national conversations, many trusting folks would be brainwashed again by few overzealous opinion influencers.

    • everybody knows you and dorti siboe doe work for the present government. Please be objective when you write articles. How much does the information minister pay you to troll FPa and the Liberian observer defending Weah

  15. James Davies, that you’re consumed with hatred for southeastern folks who refused to turn the other cheek in Liberia’s tumultuous past was obvious in your memorable 2016 Daily Observer tribal tirade against Eugene Nagbe, so the insinuation here is like water on dog’s back. I singled out former Governor Weeks, not because am sure of his involvement, but belief that had the alarm of unlawful capital flight in 2017 he raised taken seriously, it would’ve served as a deterrence, and, probably, prevented this container mindlessness.

    Just that you know, I want the truth to come out, and nothing but the whole truth. Next time read and understand the words on your screen; don’t go guessing gleefully for preconceived meanings. Am really getting tired of silliness amid serious national security issues, James!

  16. If my posts were followed, you will see that I hit the nail on the head when the rate began to rise.
    I said it,
    (1) that the police commissioner is an ignoramus, when he said it was foreigner bringer counterfeit that is contributing to the rate rise. My question was how did he know that? does he keeps inventory? If so, the inventory should be in his possession. Look, this is too fishy; the Police boss needs to be question given his comment about the reason for the rise in the rate – he might have some of that money.
    (2) When the former CBL boss refused to tell those bomboes in the House how much was printed, any fool could deduce that the EJS and some of her principle lieutenants (Amara konneh included) have looted and bankrupted the country. And I commented that some of them may have container full of money in their fenced properties.
    (3) When the former CBL governor just resigned as he did giving up a lucrative position, for me it was too good to be true. Mr Weeks resigned knowing that his loot was secure since the GOL failed to do a complete audit of the government. Ma Ellen is a masterful manipulator, may she be remembered as such.

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