Says Finance Minister Tweah
By the reckoning of Finance Minster Tweah, billions of Liberian dollars alleged to be missing is unfounded and can be accounted for, although the public appears to hold a different view. Such “misinformation” according to the Minister, which has been bandied in the media recently, is serving to incite feelings of antipathy towards the Weah government and thereby stirring conflict. The public has since been fed by officials of this government with varying accounts of the alleged missing billions.
Earlier, Information Minister Eugene Nagbe had disclosed to the public that 16 billion Liberian dollars (LRD), which was reported to have gone missing, had been printed and brought into the country and that the government had begun an investigation to determine the whereabouts of the “missing money.”
Minister Nagbe, quoting the investigation team comprising the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the Liberia National Police (LNP) and other security agencies, said the team confirmed that a total of Liberian banknotes worth 15 to 16 billion LRD were printed and brought into the country.
Justice Minister Musa Dean also confirmed that “containers and bags of money allegedly arrived into the country between November 2017 and August 2018.”
He is quoted as having said that, “Evidence available to the investigation team established that the current administration was not informed about the arrival of the containers and bags of monies into the country.”
A few days following these official statements, Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah took to the airwaves, denying claims that containers or bags of money had gone missing in the country. He stressed that contrary to widely bandied speculations that the money was missing, the actual truth is no money is actually missing. He maintains that the so called missing money was actually infused into the economy and that everything can be accounted for by the Central Bank of Liberia
The Finance Minister however has been able to confirm that between 2016 and 2018, there was a flow of money into the country.
Minister Tweah, who appeared apparently irritated by media and other reports of L$9 to L$16 billion missing in the country, told the Daily Observer that the ongoing investigation is meant to establish whether or not monies brought from 2016 to 2018 were logged and properly accounted for; adding that it is only a forensic audit and that the investigation will establish the truth.
According to him, the government has detected that “some tampering was done on the money and it is predicted that about L$9 billion was tampered with.” However just who MFDP officials suspect of tampering with the money was not revealed.
The L$16 billion information currently bandied in the public, according to Minister Tweah, is, for unknown reasons, an imaginary figure peddled by from some unknown individual or individuals for unknown reasons. He has said, however that the $9 billion could have some magnitude of legitimacy because it is what the investigation started with.
The Minister, emphasizing that it is only verifiable information on which basis one can argue, especially concerning the L$9 billion, stressed that L$16 billion is unverifiable and cannot form the basis for an argument.
Minister Tweah insists that Liberians should give a chance to the investigation, since other key stakeholders, including the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), have been invited to help find out what has transpired concerning the alleged missing containers of money. He also disclosed that the investigating body is being expanded to include the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) amongst others.
On Friday, September 21, on the eve of his departure to New York to attend the UN General Assembly, President George Weah assured Liberians that his government is going to investigate the financial scandal and that anyone found culpable will be held to account for his/her action. His assurance was contained in a very short radio broadcast aired on Friday 21, September 2018.
In related developments, this newspaper has gathered that, notwithstanding assurances by President Weah that those found culpable will be held to account, a peaceful demonstration, according to sources is yet being planned by a consortium of about 26 civil society groups to be staged on Monday, September 24, in order to draw attention to their demands for accountability and to seek the support of the international community in their bid to have the Liberian government “bring back” their money.
Additionally, it has been reliably gathered that agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation have already arrived in country and have reportedly commenced their investigation. According to sources, at the primary issue of concern to the Feds is that of United States Dollars which, is being suspected, could be part of a money laundering operation possibly involving terrorist organizations.
Meanwhile a Liberian musician whose popular hit tune, “Bring Our Container Back”, which is being aired on various radio stations around the country has been released from detention. According to sources, the musician was arrested on account of his recent release but has since been released following a splurge of concern on social media platforms. Unconfirmed reports say the musician was arrested for plying the streets on a motorcycle well after the Police designated 10 PM cutoff time for the operation of commercial motorcycles in the city.