In the wake of speculations on social media that the USAID-contracted firm investigating the alleged missing L$16 billion newly printed banknotes has identified some high profile public officials, including President George Weah, as being connected, the firm has said that it has begun to gather information and plans to meet with relevant persons in Liberia, including Liberians leading the domestic investigation.
In response to inquiries by the Daily Observer on the speculation, the international firm through the U.S. Embassy near Monrovia, said: “In order for the international team to complete their work expeditiously, they will not engage with the media or public groups while conducting their assessment in Liberia.”
According to the Embassy, they will depart Liberia after a period of fact-finding and complete their report from their offices outside Liberia after the Christmas and New Year holidays.
It further notes that since the international team is still in the information gathering stage, suggestions of what their conclusions may be are premature.
The U.S. Embassy said it remains committed, in conjunction with the Liberian government, to release the completed report. It also indicated that it will be a matter for the Liberian government to determine how to address any issues raised in the report or areas which require further exploration.
In early October, USAID, at the request of the Government of Liberia, contracted an international firm with specialization in forensic auditing to conduct a scoping mission to ascertain the basic facts of the alleged missing Liberian currency matter and determine to what extent a broader mission would be needed.
In a release dated October 10, the Embassy assured that forensic reports to be gathered by the international team will be the most credible and effective means to determine quickly the scale of the problem, and would be an appropriate means for the United States to support the Liberian government’s and citizens’ desire to understand the allegations and facts.
Request for the intervention of foreign partners to investigate the alleged missing $16 billion Liberian banknotes was made by aggrieved protesters on September 24, through a petition delivered at the U.S. Embassy, the European Union office and the United Nations office in Monrovia. The alleged missing money was earlier announced to the public amid conflicting accounts from senior government officials.
Since the announcement was made and public disquiet about the money simmered, there has been no information about how far the investigation has gone until recently when speculations about the outcome of the investigation began to trend on social media on December 10 before the international forensic team through the U.S. Embassy could react.
On the Darius Dillon Center for Intellectual Exchange Facebook page, one Dembele Osman Kolebally wrote that the forensic experts designated by the U.S. Embassy have in their possession findings revealing the involvement of President George Weah and key officials in the disappearance of the $16 billion.
According to the poster, the U.S. Embassy, having assured the Liberian public that it would make public any findings in the investigation, was tight-lipped on its current findings involving President Weah and some of his high-profiled officials.
Clarifications from the Embassy have not only debunked this Facebook post but have also enlightened the public about its ongoing activities as Liberians have been longing to hear how far the investigation has gone since it commenced.