The Jury of Criminal Court ‘C,’ last Tuesday evening brought down a guilty verdict against a finance officer from National Drug Service (NDS) for stealing US$179,183.06 and LD$958,247.08.through a fraudulent account he opened for the company at the First International Bank (FIB).
It was after a four-week trial that the jury convicted Wesley Jlue for the commission of the crimes of theft of property and forgery, of which he was indicted by the grand jury for Montserrado County.
The money was raised from the sale of malaria drugs donated to the NDS by Global Funds.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Jlue, from November 2012 up to March 2014, maintained the fraudulent account in the name of NDS, at the FIB.
He used the account and directed checks given to him for deposit into the company’s Global Funds account with another bank, Ecobank-Liberia.
All the transactions with the FIB were done through the Reconciliation officer at that bank and any communication between him and the bank had to go through the bank’s appointed officer.
Despite Jlue’s intimate involvement in all of the Global Funds’ dealings at Ecobank, he lied that his managing director, Beyan K. Johnson, instructed him to open the fraudulent account at FIB. “I have never taken any corporate action without the clear written or verbal instruction from my boss,” he told the jury.
Over approximately two years, Jlue obtained hundreds of thousands of both United States and Liberian dollars from the Global Fund checks, which he then diverted to his personal account at FIB.
Jlue also lied to the court saying that his boss, Johnson, prepared and signed the documents used to open the account at FIB purportedly for NDS to pay staff and customers because of the difficulty they were encountering in withdrawing money from the Global Funds account at Ecobank.
In fact, the NDS never made a single withdrawal from FIB, and all their payments were made from Ecobank and the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) where the company’s Global Funds accounts were kept.
For his crimes, the Reconciliation officer was suspended by his institution until he could restitute the amount which it is not clear he had done.
The Global Fund is the world's largest financier of anti-AIDS, TB and malaria programs and by mid-2012 had approved funding amounting to US$ 22.9 billion that supports more than 1,000 programs in 151 countries, including Liberia.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates was one of the first private foundations among many bilateral donors to provide seed money for the project.
NDS is the custodian of the Global Funds in the country. It is also responsible for supplying and sell drugs including HIV/AIDS and TB medications to public and private health centers.