State Witness Makes Revelation in US$4M Theft Case


In his testimony during which he alleged that the defendants on trial interchanged their profile to steal US$4 million from the First International Bank (FIB), their previous place of work, Godwin Okoro, has also told Criminal Court ‘C’ that one of the co-defendants, Africanus Freeman, failed to account for L$40 million, when he was investigated by his committee

Co-defendant Freeman together with nine others was charged by the state with multiple crimes including money laundering, forgery, theft of property and criminal conspiracy. Prosecutors are alleging that they stole over US$4 million from the bank.

They claim that only five of the ten defendants have denied the charges when they were first read to them in court.
Okoro, whose committee charged the defendants, further alleged that the act was discovered when authorities of the bank ordered its internal control auditor to conduct an immediate audit of some of the vaults that were in the custody of the defendants.

According to him, prior to that audit, the bank management decided to transfer some of its staff from one branch to another.
“Before then, some staffs of the bank were swiftly transferred. Africanus Freeman was transferred from the Central office to the bank’s Duala Branch as cash officer, while another employee, Mustapha Dukuly, was asked to take over from Freeman,” Okoro alleged.

He claimed that the handing over process that should have taken place between Dukuly and Freeman did not happen according to the bank’s policy.
Okoro explained that according to the bank’s policy, a cash officer transfer should be done with the physical counting of money in the bank’s vault between the two officers concerned and one other person who happens to be the resident internal auditor.

In the case of the transfer between Dukuly and Freeman, that procedure did not happen, Okoro alleged. Instead, the two officers without the auditor went ahead to do their own thing, Okoro claimed.

“However, there was a problem in the handing over transaction between Freeman, who happened to be the outgoing cash officer and Dukuly with respect to the validation of the vault,” he continued. “The new resident internal auditor Forkpa Kaboi, who should have been there to supervise the vault counting and witness the turning over process, failed to attend. Nobody was there to verify and validate the counting of the cash in the vault.

“It was during the audit that we discovered several irregularities. By then Africanus Freeman had already assumed full duty as cash officer at the bank’s Duala branch,” the state second witness claimed.

“Before discovering the discrepancies,” Okoro alleged, “co-defendant Freeman had already informed the bank’s head treasurer that he had deposited over L$54 million mutilated cash into the vault, which information the head treasurer posted against the bank account with the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).”

He told the court that Freeman was the staff responsible to distribute and collect cash from all their branches and have said money sent to the bank’s head treasurer.

Okoro further alleged that it was during the investigation, that they discovered that co- defendant Freeman managed to deposit an amount of L$13 million out of the L$54 million, which clearly showed that he did not deposit L$37 million as he claimed to have done.

According to him, after the transfer of Freeman to Duala, they also noticed several shortages in the vault at the Central branch.

“We also noticed that at the Duala Branch where Freeman was assigned there was a shortage and when we decided to investigate the head of operations, she told us that she left her own vault key with Freeman to attend to a family matter, “Okoro also alleged.

He continued that, “Freeman also went to one of the bank’s money gram outlets and collected from one of the bank’s tellers there, Ekins Bettie, (deceased) and withdrew over US$248,000. The audit discovered that all of the money was posted by the defendant (Freeman) without showing any documentary evidence to that effect.”

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