Milton Weeks, Co-defendants Re-arrested and Jailed

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Milton Weeks being escorted to jail for the second time.

Crane Currency also added to indictment

The defendants in the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) missing money case involving current and former officials of the Bank, all of who were arrested and jailed on charges of economic sabotage and theft of property, were rearrested early Tuesday, August 20, 2019, and are remanded at the Monrovia Central Prison (MCP), this time without bail.

The defendants, former CBL Executive Governor Milton A. Weeks, former Deputy Governor for Operations, Charles Sirleaf, Dorbor M. Hagba, Director, Finance Department, Richard H. Walker, Director for Operations, and Joseph Dennis, Deputy Director for internal audit, are being held on new charge: money laundering, for which they are now each required to file additional bonds.

The new indictment and charge raises a new case, separate from the existing case, which was supposed to begin on Tuesday. The opening of the case was postponed for Monday, August 26. As the defendants emerged from court, they were slapped with the new charge and marched off to court.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Presiding Judge Blamo Dixon, issued a 72-hour ultimatum for the prosecution to turnover all of the species of documentary evidence that they intend to produce or adduce in the trial of the case against the defendants.

Judge Dixon’s contention was for the defense lawyers to have adequate, and sufficient notice and also to enable the defense team to provide adequate legal representations of their clients, which question the defense team raised early.

The prosecution‘s new indictment claims that the legislature, through a communication dated July 19, 2017, mandated the CBL to replace the legacy notes completely with the newly printed banknotes so that there would be a single type of Liberian dollar banknotes, and that the appropriate details of the volume and denominations of the replacing banknotes be submitted to the legislature, prior to the printing and minting of coins.

The court document further alleges that contrary to furnishing the legislature with the details requested in the July 19 communication, co-defendants Weeks and Sirleaf had earlier executed a contract on June 12, 2017 with co-defendant Crane Currency to print L$10 billion worth of banknotes for the amount of US$20,121,689.20.

It also claims that in the printing of the unauthorized L$10 billion, co-defendant Crane Currency surreptitiously proceeded to print and caused to be printed L$10,359,750,000 of which L$359,750,000 in excess of the contract amount and that co-defendants Weeks, Sirleaf and Hagba proceeded to pay US$12,166,831.12 to Crane for the amount of Liberian dollars notes printed; that is, US$2,045,141.92 in excess of the amount to be paid for printing the unauthorized L$10 billion.

Defendant Sirleaf being assisted by one of his lawyers Cllr. Johnny Momoh, while on his way to his cell at the Monrovia Central Prison.

Again, the court’s records allege that though the total amount of Liberian dollar banknotes contracted by the CBL to be printed by Crane Currency was L$15 billion and the defendants had reported that only L$15,506,000,000 banknotes, including the excess resulting from practicalities of banknotes printing, packing lists submitted revealed that L$18,151,000,000 were illegally printed, supplied and received by the CBL by means of air, and sea transportation, from July 14, 2016 up to and including February 19, 2018. “This leaves a variance of L$2,645,000,000 for which  the defendants have failed to account,” the record claims.

It continues that, “the printing of  the L$10,000,000,000 banknotes and the resulting excess therefrom without the legislative approval and authorization the defendants were also in violation of the 1986 Constitution and he Act establishing the CBL as amended on March 4, 2014, there and then, the crime of money laundering the defendant did commit.”

Recap

Following his first arrest on March 4, 2019, Co-defendant Milton A. Weeks, former executive governor of the CBL, filed a property evaluation bond in the amount of US$909,319.88 to secure his release from pre-trial detention.

His bond was secured by properties secured by Benoni W. Urey, who owns property located on the Police Academy Road with an assessed value of US$163,291.58, as evidenced by the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) tax assessment.

Additionally, Attorney Angelique G. Eupheme Weeks, and Mr. and Mrs. Dweitt vonBallmoos, with the values of their properties as US$240,000 and US$506,026.30, respectively, secured the bond for Weeks.

The first bond for Charles E. Sirleaf, deputy governor, was secured by the Accident and Casualty Insurance Company (ACICO) in the amount of US$60,000. However, Judge Boima Kontoe did not approve of it “because, I needed time to review the said bond.”

Later Sirleaf, through his legal counsel, filed a motion to admit him to bail on medical grounds, which request was not opposed by the prosecution.

Also, co-defendants, Dorbor M. Hagba, director, finance department, Richard H. Walker, director for operations and Joseph Dennis, deputy director for internal audit, had their initial bails secured by the same ACICO in the amount of US$240,000, meaning the insurance company paid the amount of US$60,000 for each of them.

Prosecutors want defendants jailed at all costs

Government’s lawyers have been craving a decision by Judge Gbeneweleh to set aside the bail bond filed to release the defendants and have them (defendants) rearrested, and subsequently detained at the MCP until a proper bond is secured.

However, Judge Gbeneweleh’s dismissal of the prosecution’s motion prompted their appeal to Justice in-chambers, Joseph Nagbe charging that Judge Gbeneweleh had displayed bias against their client in his handling of the case.

Chief Justice Francis Saye Korkpor, on Tuesday, August 6, communicated with Judge Gbeneweleh, instructing him to dispose of business before the court, including the reading of Chambers Justice Nagbe’s ruling, denying the prosecution’s demand for Judge Gbeneweleh to recuse himself from hearing and determining the matter.

However, in less than 48 hours of  the  reassignment of Gbeneweleh, Chief Justice Korkpor replaced Judge Gbeneweleh with Judge Dixon.

“All the bonds these men have filed are legal and sufficient for them to be released and for the case to proceed, which will be in about a week. These people are not flight risks. So it baffles us as to why the prosecution is bent on keeping them in jail,” a source close to one of the defendants has said.

9 COMMENTS

  1. No matter what, this case died upon arrival in court some time a ago. Additional charges actually means additional eating open for known seasoned corrupt lawyers and the court. Out of many tactics, the court decided to apply only one to open real eating for now. All the court had to do was to throw these guys behind bar, that is it, money will speak. These guys can not afford to still behind bar for a while. These guys know exactly what those known season lawyers and the court want, so they will have to comply, they know how the system works. ( WATCH)

  2. “…that the appropriate details of the volume and denominations of the replacing banknotes be submitted to the legislature, prior to the printing and minting of coins.”

    The above caveat is what the legislature and our ever incompetent Justice Ministry lawyers have overlooked from the onset in their rush to judgment in this case. if deciphered carefully, the above instruction does not appear to be referring to the printing of banknotes an amount already authorized by the legislature. Rather, the instruction was referring to the minting of coins, which additional undertaking in terms of the amount of ruined bills to be replaced with the anticipated amount of coins, which was supposed to be made known to the legislators before those coins were minted. You will note, the legislators already okayed the printing of the L$10,000,000,000, so they could not have been asking the CBL officials to come back again for approval of something already approved. Note also that my argument is not regarding whatever excess money was printed, no. Only that the authorization requirement above pertained to the amount of banknotes to be converted into the printing of coins. I stand corrected.

  3. The theft or misuse of a country’s meager financial resources by a bunch of government employees is a crime against its people. Okay, let’s agree that an allegation of theft has been brought against Weeks, Hagba and Sirleaf. The issue is where do we go from here? Also, if the above three are eventually found guilty, will any embezzled money be returned to the people of Liberia?

    • Hney – This case will eventually die like the others before it because the justice system is just too corrupt. You can kill someone and if you have money to bribe the right people, you’ll never spend a night in prison, much less stealing money. Selective justice never works because the prosecutors themselves are aware that jurors would be remiss to convict someone if they don’t believe the government is acting in good faith or is fair. Moreover, prosecutors and Judges take bribes so there you go. There is a total lack of public confidence in the justice system. It’s a mess…

  4. Jorweah and his bunch of roques want eat money from the old roques… So yall want Ellen and Robert Sirleaf to bring mah again but soon as they pay when y’all get broke again more rewind… Judges and lawyers themselves looking for eating … What a country … Amehn they swear us….

  5. I don’t think that corruption in the courts is the problem at this junction. Perhaps incompetence is more appropriate. No doubt this is a mess but it is very cut and dry, clear to the eye that the three indicted were up to something no good. The facts get muddier and muddier as the courts stir this water. Put those guys in jail. Hold them until the missing money is found and go to silence. Get very very quiet until the real facts show themselves. That money is physical property sitting in a yard somewhere. It will be an interesting piece of news when it is found.

  6. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will forever regret and be paid in her coins for conniving to get Liberia into the mess it now finds itself. Now the devil she selfishly helped to dress up has turned on her. Poetic justice indeed it is. She’d better pray hard too, before George Weah pounce on her and corrupt Robert Sirleaf too. Indeed God never sleeps, and the hole the she wickedly dug for the Liberian people during 2017 electoral process is waiting for her.

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