L$16 billion case set for today
From all indications, it appears that the government is no longer interested in pursuing former members of the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) in connection to the alleged mysterious disappearance of over LD$2.6billion as the excess of the LD$10.5 billion authorized to be printed by Crane Currency in 2018.
This stems from the point where the case is scheduled to commence on Monday, May 25, at Criminal Court ’C’ at the Temple of Justice, with former CBL Executive Governor Milton Weeks still being the lone defendant, contrary to Solicitor General Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus’s boastful statement that he would make sure the former board members are arrested and prosecuted along with Weeks but, as of yet, there is no document to show that Cephus has actually acted on what he said.
Initially, Weeks, together with Charles Sirleaf, Deputy Governor for Operations, Dorbor M. Hagba, Director of Finance, Richard H. Walker, Director for Operation and Joseph Dennis, Director for Internal Audit, in 2019 was charged with economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy, and criminal facilitation and money laundering.
To the disappointment of Weeks, the government decided to dismiss those charges against Sirleaf, Hagba, Walker, and Dennis, and leaving him as the lone defendant and although Cephus had vowed to include members of the Board of Directors, he has deliberately failed to do as there is no court records to show that he actually included members of the board.
When Cephus was justifying the inclusion of members of the CBL Board, he said Weeks served as Secretary to the board by statute and is said to be in the know and had participated in the authorization of the printing of the L$10.5 billion with its excess including the controversial L$ 2.6 billion.
“But, our focus of the prosecution is being redirected to the Board of Directors and the Executive Governor,” Cephus declared.
They were said to have acted unilaterally and unlawfully by printing and importing into the country three times the amount of banknotes it had been authorized to do by the Legislature.
That report was carried out by the investigative auditing firm, Kroll Associates, hired by the United States Government through its Embassy near Monrovia to look into the alleged disappearance of several billions worth of newly printed Liberian banknotes in 2018.
Initially, it was widely reported that containers full of banknotes vanished from the Free Port of Monrovia and the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County; however, there was not any proof that this happened.
Instead, the report found that the CBL had acted unilaterally and unlawfully by printing and importing into the country three times the amount of banknotes it had been authorized to do.
Crane Currency, the currency printing company in Sweden that printed the banknotes, had earlier challenged the government to prove its involvement in any illegalities, which did not happen until the state prosecutors dismissed the accusation against the company.
Earlier, the government had claimed that Sirleaf, while serving as Acting Bank Governor, conspired with his boss, Weeks, and other officials of the bank to intentionally print and cause the printing of excess Liberian dollars.
The government said actions on the part of the defendants had the propensity to cause serious economic instability, undermine the government and cause citizens to rise up against it.