It took the government over seven months to get close to the end of a bond strife for five current and former officials of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) on trial for their alleged involvement in the ‘missing’ L$16 billion.
The impasse was resolved on Wednesday, September 4, when Chamber Justice Yussif Kaba revoked his alternative writ of certiorari issued on Monday, September 2, to review the judgment of Judge Blamo Dixon of Criminal Court ‘C’, who is presiding over the trial of the case.
Judge Dixon had earlier remanded former CBL governor Milton Weeks and two other co-defendants, including Richard H. Walker, director for operations, and Dorbor M. Hagba, director for finance, at the Monrovia Central Prison, until they can file a new bail each in the amount of L$1,058,000,000.
Dixon also released the two other defendants, Joseph Dennis, deputy director of Internal Audit and Deputy Governor for Operations, Charles Sirleaf on medical grounds, but with an order to pay their L$1,058,000,000 within a week.
Dixon’s action was due to a new charge of money laundering brought against the defendants, adding yet another accusation to a series of corruption charges against the CBL’s officials.
However, Justice Kaba said that the defendants should surrender their passports or all of their travel documents to the office of the sheriff. He also warned that “the defendants (petitioners) should not travel beyond the cities of Brewerville, Paynesville and the Atlantic Ocean.” He added that the defendants should report to the sheriff’s office weekly, each Friday.
Initially, Weeks filed a property evaluation bond to the amount of US$909,319.88 to secure his release from pre-trial detention, while the Accident and Casualty Insurance Company (ACICO) secured the bond for Charles E. Sirleaf, deputy governor in the amount of US$60,000.
The company also secured a US$60,000 bond for Richard Walker, director for operations, Joseph Dennis, deputy director for internal audit and Dorbor Hagba, director of finance.
Those bonds were to secure their release on the first charges, which include economic sabotage and theft of property. Later, the prosecution added a new charge of money laundering, which Dixon set the bail to L$1,058,000,000, leaving to the defense team to appeal against the new bail before Justice Dixon.
The charges were brought based on the release of the USAID-backed Kroll report, and the report by the Special Presidential Investigation Team (PIT), which uncovered a wide-range of discrepancies in the printing of new Liberian banknotes worth billions of LRD, and the controversial disbursement of US$25 million intended to be infused into the economy to curb the rising exchange rate between the Liberian and US dollars.
It is yet unknown when the trial of the case will resume.