International Bank Liberia Limited (IBLL) could face criminal charges, if the ongoing investigation proves that the bank deliberately changed the names that were previously written on two of its checks in the amount of US$10,000 and US$75,000 allegedly cashed and paid to former National Investment Commission boss, Richard Tolbert and former House Speaker, Bomi County, District #1 Representative Alex Tyler, as claimed by the Global Witness bribery report.
The two controversial checks, one dated June 23, 2010, in the amount of US$10,000 was said to have been paid to co-defendant Tolbert, while the other check dated August 25, the same year in the amount of US$75,000 was paid to co-defendant Tyler.
The bank had insisted that the June 23 check was made out to Cllr. Moses Paegar, managing partner of the Sherman and Sherman Law Firm. Paegar is also the president of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA).
The August 25 check was in the name of Mrs. Roberta Parker, a staff of the law firm.
The monies, the GW claimed, were withdrawn by the pair from the account of the Sherman and Sherman Law Firm, owned by co-defendant Varney Sherman, a lawyer for Sable Mining, a UK based company as a bribe to alter the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) Act to award the Wologizi Mountain to the company without it going through the competitive bidding process.
The government has already submitted the two checks to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to begin a probe to pursue criminal action against the bank if it is found that the original names on the checks were replaced.
The investigation will also target Sabanoh Printing Press, the entity allegedly hired by the bank to print its checks, in order to authenticate the serial numbers and other features on the checks.
Prosecution’s strong position against the bank was due to IB’s inconsistency when the bank was summoned by the court to account for the checks.
The IB officials initially denied having any knowledge about the two checks, alleging that they had destroyed or turned over to the law firm documents regarding the firm’s financial transactions with the bank prior to the case dating back to 2010.
Those statements were made when the bank was threatened by the court to produce the checks, which prosecution argued it would not proceed further with the case in the absence of the two checks because they were among its major documentary evidences against the defendants.
Based on the court’s ultimatum the bank, a week later, produced the two checks in court, but with two different names on them. This prompted the probe and if found liable of any alteration of the ‘original’ names on the checks, could warrant subsequent government criminal action against the bank.