Gov. Patray wants travel restrictions lifted
Amid the controversy surrounding the “missing” L$16 billion, the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) yesterday categorically denied that any money has gone missing from the bank’s vaults and has said that all money printed and brought into the country between 2016 and 2018 can be accounted for.
Governor Nathaniel Patray said in a press conference that the CBL has conducted its internal assessment of monies that were printed and brought into Liberia and none is missing as it is being speculated in the country.
Governor Patray, who was accompanied by Dr. Mounir Siaplay, Deputy Governor for Economic Policy and Deputy Governor Charles Sirleaf, called on the government to vacate the travel restriction through a writ issued against its officials.
According to Governor Patray, CBL’s record on the total amount of money printed and placed in the reserve vaults of the bank is L$15.5 billion for the period of 2016 to 2018.
“This amount was verified from CBL’s own internal documents and documents received from the Crane Currency of Sweden that printed the money,” Governor Patray said.
“The CBL wants to clarify to the general public and partners in progress that there is no L$16 billion missing, as has been erroneously reported in the media. The CBL has no records showing that the monies printed under its authority have not yet been delivered into its reserve vaults. Record from the Crane Currency of Sweden, which was contracted to print the money, shows that Crane delivered L$15.5 billion through the Freeport and RIA between 2016 and 2018 and that all these monies were logged by the CBL and delivered into the reserve vaults of the CBL,” he said.
Governor Patray said the CBL welcomes the establishment and expansion of the Special Investigative Team constituted by President George Weah, which includes: Civil Society Groups (CSOs), Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Financial Intelligence Unit of Liberia (FIUL), Joint Security Team (Justice Ministry, Liberia National Police and National Security Agency) as well as the Association of Certified Public Accountants, among others.
He said the bank also welcomes the government’s decision to engage international partners such as the Government of the United States, the African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), United Nations (UN) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“It is our latest information that is based on this engagement, and the government and its partners are in the process of securing the services of a reputable International Forensic Audit Firm to conduct a forensic audit of all flows of printed money between 2016 and 2018,” Patray said.
Mr. Patray said the CBL will cooperate with this investigation and avail all records in its possession to the investigation, stating that, “I confirm that all employees of the CBL are committed to cooperating fully with the investigation and will continue to make themselves available to the Special Investigative Team whenever they are called upon.”
Meanwhile observers here say this clarification by Governor Patray is but a rehash of what President Sirleaf said recently in a BBC interview that the money was printed in Sweden and all was fully accounted for. But officials of this government including Information Minister Eugene Nagbe had disclosed that money was printed in Lebanon and China and brought into the country. He made absolutely no mention of Sweden rather he named instead, China and Lebanon and emphatically stated that money did actually go missing.
A prominent Liberian lawyer and former security official (name withheld) told the Observer that this entire affair smacks of a cover-up intended to shield certain top officials who are believed to have connections to the alleged disappearance of the money. At this stage it remains unclear whether this latest statement statement from the Central Bank means the investigation has come to a close although the Government has announced the expansion of the membership of the investigating team.