IBank May Face Criminal Charges

If ongoing investigation proves it was behind changing names on bribery checks

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The two controversial checks bearing the names of Cllr. Mose Paegar and Roberta Parker, in the amounts of US$10,000 and US$75,000, respectively, instead of allegedly Alex Tyler and Richard Tolbert.

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The monies, the GW claimed, were withdrawn by the pair from the account of the Sherman and Sherman Law Firm, owned by co-defendant Varney Sherman, a lawyer for Sable Mining, a UK based company as a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.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. That bank needs to be dragged into this case seriously. On one occasion, they claimed that they had searched thoroughly and couldn’t find the checks. Infact, they were not under obligation to keep the checks after five years. On another, they said they returned the original copies of the checks to the client (Sherman & Sherman) and Varney Sherman told the court that those checks were either burned or shredded once their account statements were reconciled. How come is the bank coming out with the original copies of these checks that should already be destroyed?

  2. The media is confused about the case. Initially the court requested IB Bank to submit 16 checks to the court. The bank submitted 14 out of the 16 checks, because it could not find the remaining two. It appeared before the court to explain to the judge this situation, for which the bank was duly discharged. However, it continued to search for the missing checks until it found them last week.

    Why is the media unfairly targeting the bank. This is bank that supports several businesses and individuals in Liberia. Why do we want to criminalise a good business, when it has no interest in the on going court saga.

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