Sen. Kaipay Requests Independent Probe into ‘Missing Billions’

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Senator Jonathan Kaipay of Grand Bassa County.

In the wake of recent revelation of the alleged disappearance of billions of newly printed Liberian Banknotes, Grand Bassa County Senator, Jonathan L. Kaipay, is commending the President George Weah for taking immediate steps in probing “this extremely embarrassing economic situation.”

But while we acknowledge and appreciate the initial approach by President Weah to unearth the truth of this mysterious financial saga, we also call on the President to go an extra mile by soliciting the expertise of a credible independent body to conduct a forensic audit to ensure best practices,” Senator Kaipay urged in a press statement.
The Liberty Party Senator further commended President Weah for appealing to the United States Government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to send in the FBI and financial experts to conduct an independent investigation into the matter.

“The CDC–led Government, which is party to the prevailing financial impropriety, must not conduct its own audit because, to do so, will create crises of credibility and transparency,” Senator Kaipay maintained.

The Grand Bassa County Lawmaker made the statement in a phone call to his Capitol Hill Office in Monrovia from the United States where he is attending the 28th National Convention of the United Bassa Organizations in the Americas (UNIBOA).

Meanwhile, Senator Kaipay has expressed support for calls by his colleagues at the Legislature for an Emergency Session to assist in solving the mystery of the missing billions, since he asserted, it is the Legislature that authorizes the printing of the country’s currency and which, according to the former Central Bank Executive Governor, Mr. Milton Weeks authorized the printing of the huge amount in question.

It may be recalled that on the eve of the end of the regime of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Senator Kaipay wrote plenary of the Liberian Senate requesting that body to cite the Minster of Finance and Development Planning to provide “pertinent information on the status of the country’s economy and development program as the government of President Sirleaf leaves office in January.”

Senator Kaipay in his communication specifically requested the government through then Minister of Finance to provide the Senate “with an accurate account of the country’s debt portfolio, (grant and loans) since the ascendency of President Sirleaf from 2006-2017. “The information must also include all programs for which the funds were negotiated and received and how much was achieved with the expanded amounts.”

Of equal importance, the Senator’s communication continued, “is the name of the institutions that awarded those grants and loans and the tenure thereof. ”

The Grand Bassa County lawmaker who chairs the Senate Committee on Autonomous Commissions and Agencies, maintained that the information would enable the Legislature and the incoming government to have a sense of how to “restructure our economy in order to minimize the country’s debt burden and focus more on sustainable growth and development. ”

The communication was voted upon and sent to the Committee on Ways, Means & Finance and requested to report to plenary in two weeks.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Who’s stopping the Senate from conducting its own investigation?? In 2016, weren’t these the same clowns who authorized the Central Bank to print additional money Liberian dollars??

    Instead of calling on the President to go the “extra mile”, why can’t the lawmakers get a “credible independent Body to conduct a Forensic audit of the CBL”??

  2. The Bassa Senator is in the right direction. The Legislature approved the printing 5 billion. The purpose was to replace mutilated bank notes. How did 16 Billion enter the country is not with the knowledge of the Legislature. We must go to the bottom of this. The truth has to be revealed. And if anyone is found liable, he/she should be penalized and our country and people will get back their Good image.

  3. Why should any independent investigation be carried out when the US is involved in tracking down the mysterious disappearance of the Liberian banknotes? Okay, if Senator Kaipay’s request is granted, will the independent investigator perform his or her duty free of charge?

    The words “independent investigation” are being bandied around especially in the US these days. Trump is the gentleman who’s being investigated because of so many unexplained issues that pop up constantly in his leadership, past and present. The fact of the matter is that millions of US tax dollars are being spent as the Mueller investigation heats up. But, can Liberia afford to spend thousands of dollars on an investigation when the nation’s Treasury is almost broke? Senator Kaipay sounds like a patriot. It’s understandable. But, while the US government and others are doing all that’s possible to retrieve the missing money, it is premature at this particular time to press for an independent investigation.

    A Bong county elementary school principal in the Zota district had to quit his job recently because he wasn’t being paid. The former principal stated that scores of teachers nationwide aren’t being paid their regular salary. It will be highly appreciated if Kaipay could look into the issue of teachers’ pay. Without being paid, a teacher or principal will not perform a good job.

  4. While I had argued for an Independent Counsel’s (or Prosecutor) to have taken over the lead for probing the missing money, I am confident that with the FBI and Department of the Treasury of the U.S involvement, they should be able to generate an independent assessment of the money, its trail, signatories on authorization of the money being printed and vendors used as well as signatories at all points of travel of the money from source of printing to destination and subsequent appropriation. That’s indeed a great help that the nation does not have the capability as well as an institution of independence to undertake. The major problem will be what part of the findings of the FBI would the government produce to the public, and if the President will let the chip fall where it may. Just so readers can be aware, the FBI will not provide any result of their findings to the public and only to an appropriate agency of the U.S., like the Treasury Department’s Financial and Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) if there’s any money laundering suspicious findings that include U.S Dollars and/or any money missing was determined to be infused into other nations that may render the funds to be used for terrorist funding. Other than that, the FBI assisting a foreign government would only provide their findings to the government and allowing the government to make its own internal decision on how to treat the report. The President seems to be determined to act accordingly based on the findings from the investigation when he suggested no one would escape accountability. That’s a good start I think in this confusion.

    I also do not blindly support the criticism the Minister of Finance is receiving because of his public statement unless proven that he intentionally and knowingly made it to defraud, sabotage or avert accountable and transparent investigation of the missing money. In fact, he is most likely the one person that would and should be relied on to give a credible assessment of the whereabouts of the money, along with the Central Bank officials. He is the nation’s Finance Minister, so the statements are within the scope of his authority, unless his critics can prove the points I made above. This does not include assumptions, unproven unrelated issues (e.g., his salary at ADB, even though there’s no reason for me to believe he was lying, since advisory fees could have added up to his base salary may have increased his annual compensation). I am sure the FBI Team will inquire from him supporting documentations to support his public statements, as well as follow up on the CBL’s own assessments and supporting documents. Nothing else I have read in the public square matters. Most are simply individuals’ own unsupported presumptions and hearsays with no relevant supporting documentations.

    Unless someone is an expert in Financial Fraud, anti-money laundering, and record keeping requirements of institutions of government of corporations, I think commenters should be careful in doling out specific steps that should be followed in this investigation, since most commenters do not know the facts or the complexities of conducting financial crimes analysis. What all can support is the independence of the investigation and the demand for subject matter experts to do that.

    This is from someone who’s being involved in both the legal and risk analysis for, at least three of the last major financial crashes that have impacted the American free enterprise system and the global economy at some level.

  5. Look, this is all spilled milk from Sen Kaipay.

    As of the moment former Governor Weeks reported that he cannot tell the HOUSE how much money was printed, and that the president (Ellen) authorised him to do so, The HOUSE should have subpoenaed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the time and compel her to give reason(s) why she shouldn’t be held in contempt for authorizing the Central bank’s governor not to divulge to it what it has given authority for. However, those feckless legislators, for some strange reason (most likely they had received envelops), never acted and therefore never care about their rights under the constitution and that of the liberian people.

    Mr. Emerson, having come to admire your analysis (legal), am I mistaken here?

  6. J.M.
    The issues these:
    1) Who has constitutional authorization to mandate the printing of new notes? The Legislature does
    2) Who had Constitutional obligation to determine timing and the facilitation (e.g., selection of printer, contractual arrangements, transport arrangements, receipt and dispensing of authorized new notes into the economy) and accounting of new notes?
    The Central Bank of Liberia
    3) Does the CBL operate independently as an autonomous Agency?
    Yes
    4) Does it also have any direct reports to the President, such as to be subject to the President in how, when and why it makes its monetary decisions?
    No
    5) Did the Legislature grant authority to the CBL to print new notes, and what’s the content and context of the instructions?

    The Legislature granted the CBL authorization to replace completely legacy notes (e.g. meaning all legacy notes in circulation). The instruction was two-fold. First was specific instructions to print L$5B in various denominations specified in the instructions. This amount did not state the Legislature ascertained and concluded that was the amount of legacy notes in the economy.
    The second part of the instructions required a complete replacement of legacy notes. The CBL is statutorily authorized to make monetary policy decisions independently. And since it already had the Legislative mandate, it did not need additional authorization to print the additional L$10B, once it determined there were legacy notes in the amount of L$10B after the initial L$5B. It therefore proceeded to execute the Legislative mandate based on the institution from the Legislature as stated below:

    “to replace the legacy notes completely with the newly printed banknotes so that there will be a single type of Liberian currency, thus facilitating proper control of the money supply.”

    This is why I am more inclined to hold the Minister of Finance more credible in his statement. He might be right in inferring that the analysis that needs to be done is determine how much legacy notes were already in the economy? Only after that will one determine if the CBL print excess notes beyond what was authorized. Remember the institution was not limited to just L$5B, but a complete replacement of legacy notes, and that could have been 10, 15, 16 billion Liberian dollars.

    Legally, Ellen government could not have printed the money, since the Constitutional authority lies with the autonomous Agency, CBL, operating independently. Ellen is now a private citizen. They will have to sue her in a criminal court and prove all charges against her. If the House’ threat is just hubris from what appears to be ambitious lawmakers.

    So, as you can see, the burden of proof lies with the House. What exactly was it intent when it authorized new notes? Do the members even understand the very authorization they granted?

  7. replace “institution” with “instruction” appropriately as the context require in my above posting, and pardon few typo errors from mobile device.

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