Defendant Pewee Flomo, a former finance officer accused of diverting hundreds of United States Dollars from the hydrocarbon development funds on Tuesday, August 5, told the Criminal Court ‘C’ that the custodians of the funds did not manage them properly, and said he had been falsely accused.
The development funds had been managed by the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL).
NOCAL alleged that Flomo, without any authorization, withdrew the money from its account at Ecobank-Liberia.
The fraudulent withdrawal allegedly took place in August 2013, the company claimed.
Defendant Flomo, who was responsible for handling financial documents on the development funds, in his testimony alleged that at no time did his immediate bosses provided him with any bank reconciliation statement on the use of the money.
NOCAL’s operational funds were also entrusted into his care, according to him.
The reconciliation allows a person to match or reconcile, a cashbook with statements received from the bank.
It is also a process of checking and comparing the transaction in your cashbook with the transaction on the bank statement.
In that direction, all of the transactions on the bank statement should be reflected on the cashbook; and those that are not on the bank statement, should be reflected on the bank reconciliation statement.
But defendant Flomo noted that this did not happen in the case with the hydrocarbon development funds.
“I received and processed bank reconciliation statements from Ecobank about the operational funds. As for the hydrocarbon funds, the bank did not give me any reconciliation statement, neither did my bosses ever make any inquiry about it,” the defense witness stated.
“This is how we have been working, before I was accused of diverting the hydrocarbon development funds.
There has been no proper management of the development fund,” defendant Flomo claimed during his cross examination by the prosecutors.
“I challenge anyone of them to disprove what I have just said, whether they have in their possession a bank reconciliation statement from Ecobank regarding the NACOL’s hydrocarbon development funds,” he averred.
Earlier, when Augustine Mend (the officer who investigated and charged Flomo) testified, he alleged that the defendant was implicated when another man identified as “Prince Koffa” mentioned his name.
Koffa was arrested at one of Ecobank’s branches in Monrovia, while attempting to encash the NOCAL’s hydrocarbon development fund check bearing the name Joseph Howard, the police investigator further added.
The prosecutors’ witness further alleged that it was Koffa who identified Flomo, when the investigators took him to the NOCAL’s office to do so.
However, defendant Flomo explained that before Koffa’s arrest and alleged confusion, he had already been arrested and handcuffed on the order of his bosses.
“Koffa did not know me personally. This was why my bosses decided to arrest and handcuff me, so that he could easily identified me. When they arrived at the office,” he defended his arrest and subsequent charge.
Flomo is charged with theft of property, forgery, criminal facilitation and conspiracy, claims he has denied, describing them as a “conspiracy.”
It may be recalled that when NOCAL released its fiscal year 2013/2014 budget, the institution through Madam Marie E. Leigh Parker said that the “budget strategically responds to the priorities of Liberian’s emerging hydrocarbon sector with heavy emphasis directed toward manpower training and capacity building.”
She further noted, “We promise scrupulous implementation of the budget and the sector will move in a strategic direction at the end of the 2013 /2014 budget year.”