A day after the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) appeared before Criminal Court ‘C’ and provided justification about the contentious US$2 million criminal appearance bond, posted in favor of several former senior public officials, including Miatta Beyslow, Minister of Commence, and Aminata & Sons Inc., the bank’s credibility was yesterday criticized by lawyers representing the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).
The US$2 million bond was posted by the Accident and Casualty Insurance Company (ACCICO), which the LACC has challenged, arguing the company’s assets do not reach that amount.
The CBL had earlier testified at the Criminal Court ‘C’ supporting its issuance of certification of assets to ACCICO. The certificate established that ACCICO has met with all financial requirements and was qualified to post bond beyond US$2 million, according to the CBL Assistant Director for Insurance, Alvin Coleman.
“The insurance company’s real and personal properties worth over US$3 million throughout the country is sufficient enough to cover the obligation under the defendants’ bond. This was why we issued the certificate to them,” Coleman explained, adding, “Our action is also based on ACCICO’s audited account dated December 31, 2014 submitted to the CBL, and it satisfied the bank’s requirements.”
At yesterday’s argument about the merits and demerits of the bond, Cllr. Othello S. Payman, LACC’s lead prosecutor, said “the decision of the bank was erroneous and dangerous to the country and they are setting a bad precedent for the country, because they know that the insurance company’s assets do not reach that amount but went on to issue the certificate confirming their assets.”
According to Cllr. Payman, the insurance company’s assets were valued at US$1.5 million, with liabilities of over US$2 million.
“The CBL’s action was fraudulent, wrongful and misleading and they should be held to show reasons why they shouldn’t be held in contempt of court for that erroneous information about the ACCICO’s assets,” the LACC chief prosecutor suggested.
Meanwhile, Cllr. Payman asked the court to set aside the “fraudulent bond” and make the defendants to augment the US$2 million bond.
In counter argument the defense said the court should ignore LACC’s argument and approve the US$2 million bond posted by ACCICO, because it meets all of the requirements of the CBL, making reference to the certificate of assets.
The defense said the law prohibits excess bond, adding: “The US$2 million bond is enough; besides, all of the defendants are business people whose assets are worth millions of United States dollars and they are not thinking about fleeing the country while being covered under the bond.”
The Ministry of Justice, the prosecuting arm of the government, has declined to coordinate with the LACC to prosecute the defendants, claiming that evidence is not sufficient to go ahead with the case.
The defendants are accused of masterminding the disappearance of over US$5 million from the sale of the Japanese Oil Grant.
They are being tried on the commission of economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy and facilitation and violation of the required Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC).
Ruling on the merits and demerits of the bond was yesterday scheduled for Tuesday, April 5.