Justice Ministry Probes ‘Ghost Containers, Bags of Money’

13
3514
Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean

Where are the containers filled with L$9 billion (equivalent to US$60 million) that entered the country through the Freeport of Monrovia between November 2017 and August 2018?

That is the question that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and other related security agencies are grappling with as the MoJ has confirmed that on August 8, 2018, a Special Presidential Investigation Team comprising investigators from the Liberia National Police (LNP), the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), was constituted and mandated to investigate information surrounding the alleged arrival of containers consisting of bags of money into the country through the Freeport of Monrovia and the Roberts International Airport (RIA).

In a release yesterday 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, help confirm the validity of the allegation, and the question now resonating among the public is, who could possibly be involved into 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 yesterday, 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.

Against that background, a highly placed security source informed the Daily Observer that prior to the leak of the information, there were intelligence that a huge consignment of money, via the various ports of entry, had entered the country. But there has been no evidence as to whether the government was aware or not.

“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 NSA as well as the LNP on September 13, 2018, raided the offices of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) which, it has been claimed, 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.

13 COMMENTS

  1. From the article’s description of events and identified signatories of the containers removal, the security agencies should be able to track down where the funds went or are currently in custody. It’s clear from the story, someone signed for the containers. That person is accountable for confirming where the containers were delivered to and who took possession of it, with proven signatories of receipt. The blame game is a sign of
    non-commitment by the current administration to rise to the occasion.

    A thorough investigation of all signatories, transporters and receivers of the containers is Paramount. Telephone and text messages records of all who at anytime were involved in the printing, transmitting of the funds from its source to the receipt, disbanding from the port, uploading to trucks, transporting, and receiving of the containers must be done to ascertain any suspicious activity by anyone in the chain or identify any other influence that may have potentially steered the funds in a fraudulent scheme.

    The blame game lacks credibility. Was there a transition Team formed by the current administration in order to properly transition from the prior administration to the current by going through active and pending works of each department of the government during the transition. All I have read was people who were appointed replace the prior administration staffs simply drove up to their respective offices and took over. No review with predecessors on policies and procedures, pending contracts and deliverables and receivables. With that, there’s no indication there was a gatekeeper for the current administration to have had a synchronized take over offices and functions. No wonder you have such a gap in information. This was a mark of naivety and lack of proactive leadership in the various agencies.

  2. George Weah can not arrest, this is the money he used to run campaign and the last money is what Ellen give George built his new mansions. If Liberians serious, they will carry on mass protest and break this monkey down.
    Solution, people need to get ready, Liberia is under serious attack from the ruling class. The nationalists movement is planning a demonstration that will not needs any government recognition, because there is no government.

    The mass protect will blocked all major intersections in and around Monrovia until they bring back our money in the same containers.
    Ellen and Weah know about the money. Ellen went to Lebanon right after she turn over power. Weah promised to protect Ellen and her entourage.

    Liberia ia under a very serious attack…before your wake-up, Liberia will be sold to the Chinese, and every Liberians will be slaves for the Chinese in their motherland. As we speak now, this government is auctioning Liberia to China.

  3. George Weah can not arrest, this is the money he used to run campaign and the last money is what Ellen give George built his new mansions. If Liberians serious, they will carry on mass protest and break this monkey down.
    Solution, people need to get ready, Liberia is under serious attack from the ruling class. The nationalists movement is planning a demonstration that will not needs any government recognition, because there is no government.

    The mass protect will blocked all major intersections in and around Monrovia until they bring back our money in the same containers.
    Ellen and Weah know about the money. Ellen went to Lebanon right after she turn over power. Weah promised to protect Ellen and her entourage.

    Liberia ia under a very serious attack…before your wake-up, Liberia will be sold to the Chinese, and every Liberians will be slaves for the Chinese in their motherland. As we speak now, this government is auctioning Liberia to China.

  4. Since the end of de facto One Party Government in Liberia, every new political leadership has arrived with many greenhorns; that’s why a brief transitional period is required, not a handing over seminar. And, as a matter of fact, there was one headed by EJS and current Minister of State McGill. So regarding the vanishing billions, unless there was intention to withhold information in furtherance of a crime, the onus was on the relevant outgoing officials at CBL and NPA to brief incoming counterparts of the arrival date or existence of any container with cash. So until information comes out suggesting otherwise, ascribing incompetence of government – per se – to the mystery is a rush to judgment, and unfair.

    • Mr. Moses, to rush to judgment unfair to the present regime ? Read the quote about the investigation that is coming from the Minister of Justice: 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 compromise”. Professional statement to make , if only Liberia was not Liberia where every one is related and know each other. There are government agencies that used the so-called professional standard to protect the most powerful in that country. Lets take a look at the performance of the so-called LACC when President George Weah released his assets to that Commission. Which then became public records or information on how much wealth the President has . But instead, the Commission released an agreement between the GAC and the Commission outside a law not to publicly release what was a public information. Turning the assets release as a private information of the President. And we are to believe a Justice Ministry controlled investigation that is meant to professionally protect some big fish ? A Justice Ministry that could not get its storyline straight to the public concerning the two failed loans should be listen to about professional standard concerning a stolen money that the government claiming missing. Keep fool yourself about rushing to judgment. That country and its past and present governments are predictable when it comes to impunity and corruption , Mr. Moses .

  5. Alias Wanibota, not surprisingly, the political power which deluded your party during the 2017 election, you guys want now by domestic upheaval, never mind most of the 2011 Arab Spring Uprisings ended in civil wars, deaths of about a million, and suffering of more in refugee camps. For some of us who’ve seen this movie before, that’s why we unapologetically call out media reports and opinions perceived as misleading the public. I’m, therefore, amazed that “Daily Observer” published this incendiary comment in abeyance to some notion of free expression. Anyway, probably, cowards like you and your immediate family don’t live in the Liberia you want to see in flames, or if you do passports with permanent visas or foreign citizenship are available and ready.

    So it is our hope that the appropriate officials are vigilantly watching actions on the ground and at various Information spaces. The responsibility to be proactive in protecting Liberia and Liberians lies with the political leadership, and if they ignore warning signs and information of pending chaos, like the SKD government did before the first and second NPFL invasions in 1985 and 1989, they would rue more than blame of a disappearing container. One more thing, the Krio say: “Goat head and sheep head not the same”. The rumored covert protection given to EJS by Uncle Sam may not be available again. Be careful, folks.

  6. Fellow Liberians, let us not waste our time listening to these bunch of criminals we call our leaders, Dr. President, George Manneh Weah and former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf are aware of what’s on folding regarding this container of money coming into the country through the Freeport of Monrovia and Roberts International Airport.
    Frankly speaking, absolutely nothing will be done about this money matter. This money saga will only be discuss for the period of seven days, and thereafter it will be swept under the carpet. President, Dr. George M. Weah has benefited from this money, and his government is trying to put the Liberian people against the past government of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

  7. Sylvester. On the transition from the prior administration to the present, you mentioned, ‘And, as a matter of fact, there was one headed by EJS and current Minister of State McGill.’

    Was it a full transition or just two senior officials or few staffs from both sides discussed transitioning key roles like cabinet level? Transitioning into a new administration is s major undertaking that requires every level of political appointment positions functions to be properly transitioned by looking at current tasks, projects being worked on, pending resolutions, and with documentations and record keeping requirements of the prior administration maintained and accessable by the new administration. I have two friends who worked on the Obama’s transition Team. The level of details that’s covered was incredible. I don’t think that was the case with Liberia. For example, in some instances, you had some of the new administration officials driving up to their offices while their predecessors were still in office who believed they should not be replaced thus creating chaos. That could’ve only happened due to the lack of proper transition. The transition team for the administration should have been formed and started working right after the election results and begin accounting for everything in every Ministry or government agencies before the new president took office for a seamless transition and continued operation of the government. If that had been done, and efficiently, gaps like the containers would have been discovered, because there had to have been records on the delivery of such a massive amounts of funds.

    Data management and documentation, with policies and procedures for every function of government is key in mitigating corruption. There has to be a documented reason for why a position exists, what exactly it does, and reasons with supporting documents for every decision made by a holder of a position, and supervisory structure to ensure compliance. I can’t assume that currently exists, based on the many mishaps of the current administration. The administration has to take ownership. In the private sector, where I work, and fortunate to be in the circle of the highest level of the organization when major decisions are made, the thought of blaming a predecessor of the role you hold can be a career killer.

    Of course, there needs to be accountability from the prior administration on issues that birthed under it, but the delay in doing so may close the legal window to proceed against former staffs if the current administration has already made decisions or impacted the areas of concern they would and should’ve held the prior administration liable for clarification. That’s why, I think Alexander Cummings suggestions on these issues, stemming from his corporate experience, should be heeded.

  8. Because of public statements by the Ministry of Justice and the Information Ministry of the
    present administration, there’s certainly an appearance of conflict of interest in the investigation by the Ministry of Justice. As such, I suggest an Independent Counsel probe be established to prosecute this case.

    I’m not sure the extent to which the code of ethics laws provide for the appointment of Independent Counsel in Liberia. 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 pose conflict of interest if the Justice Department or Congress directly investigated it. There’s potential that current and/or former high ranking public officials may be linked to the money, that’s why there ought to be a credible prosecution of the matter. As such, the independence of the investigation with statutory authority is warranted. If no such Act exists, the President should call the Legislature into an emergency session to pass an Independence Counsel Act as part of the Code of Ethics law, or however it’s called in the Liberian’s statute.

    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.

  9. I am somehow carefully optimistic that the stolen loot will be found. Even if 100% of the L16 billion dollars is not found, at least a good portion of it will be uncovered.

    My greatest fear:
    A well-known law man is being hounded because of some dark cloud money transaction he was involved with. Up to date, the cloud has darkened so badly that no one is dreaming of openly or privately questioning the man. It’s a shame.

    Then there was another lawman who suddenly got sick when questions were raised about money. This lawman traveled from Liberia into foreign lands in order to cure his unnamed illness. According to an inside scoop, the ungentle-man (trust me, he’s far from being a gentleman) is parambulating at home. Again up to date, no mention is made regarding his illness or the money deal he entered recklessly.

    I am afraid that when the looters are nabbed, there will be no consequence. Or if any punishment is planned, the looters will do as others do: Beg for forgiveness.

    The word justice is made up of two distinct words: ….just & ice. So instead of punishing the perpetrators harshly when they are caught, no justice will be done…. just ice, will be thrown on their backs. That’s why I am concerned!

  10. F. Hney. That’s why I suggested an independent probe. The current administration has its officials suggesting blame on the prior administration somehow diminishes its ability to conduct an impartial investigation. This appears to include only former officials from the prior administration who were either replaced or brought over. And as one reads the above article, the numerous unverified assumptions leading to the article’s conclusion that the current administration investigate the prior suggests a determination has already been made that culpability lies solely with the prior administration. Whatever the case maybe, if the amount has already been disbursed into the economy, that to me is definitely a major money laundering scheme that would require the legal, financial intelligence, risk and anti-money laundering subject matter expert working on the case under an established statutory Independent Counsel appointment. In my prior comment, I went into the detail on the authority the Independent Counsel probe would entail. The probe will cover anyone suspected from the current and prior administrations. It also takes away a partisan investigation or relationship consideration, thus operating strictly under the rule of law with specific authority for discovery against anyone of interest determined by the Independent Counsel probe.

Leave a Reply