US Embassy to Provide Forensic Investigators in “L$16 Billion” Saga

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US Ambassador Christine Elder

The United States Embassy near Monrovia said it has reached out to independent, internationally recognized firms with specialization in forensic investigations to conduct a scoping mission to ascertain the basic facts of the alleged missing currency matter, and determine to what extent a broader mission would be needed.

The current development is a direct response to request by aggrieved and disenchanted citizens under the banners, Concern Citizens United to Bring Back our Money (COCUBBOM), and Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL) for international partners to help with investigators to ascertain the fate of their “missing L$16 billion.”

Another civil society group, the Citizens Action for the Establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia, are in support of the groups demanding accountability in the money saga.

COCUBBOM and EFFL carried out a peaceful protest in September, calling on the US Embassy, the European Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations to intervene by embarking on the Liberian government to account for the “missing money.”

The protesters also called on these international partners to provide technicians to investigate the matter as they do not trust the Liberian government on accounts that officials have been providing conflicting information surrounding the issue, and that most of the people on the presidential investigative team are related to people who are to be investigated.

According to the US Embassy release, issued on October 10, it is its assessment that such a report would 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.

“If a broader and longer investigation were found to be needed after the scoping mission has concluded, the government could discuss next steps with international partners,” the release said.

The embassy noted that in order to ensure the effectiveness and integrity of the process, the U.S. and Liberian governments have agreed for the independent forensic investigators to conduct their work with full access to information needed, and without the imposition of additional actors from the government, civil society or international partners.

They went further to reach a consensus that the completed report will be made public, so that there is full transparency and understanding of the investigation outcomes.

“We urge all Liberians to remain patient as the Liberian government, assisted by the United States and other international partners, considers appropriate and expeditious means to help resolve current concerns and questions about Liberia’s currency.

Meanwhile the EU Delegation in Monrovia has acknowledged receipt of petition by disenchanted citizens demanding accountability in the “missing L$16 billion.”

The petition was delivered since September 24, but the EU could not acknowledge receipt of the petition to the media until October 9 when a release from there reached the Daily Observer.

In its release, the EU Delegation, like the US Embassy, commended the protesters for conducting themselves peacefully and also the government for the enabling environment provided. Stressing the need for clarity on the issue in the face of such grievous allegations, the EU Delegation said it is important that a full, complete and transparent investigation is carried out and finished as soon as possible.

The EU further notified the public that it has not provided any technical or financial support to aid the ongoing investigation by the government as being stated in the circle of the media.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Let us not take the United States Embassy forensic aid to present the truth of this missing container a financial burden on the existing amount already on stock at the Central Bank. We also hope that this offer by the United States does not become an imposed security measure. Liberia has security experts but not technical forensic instruments to this end and have not yet invented any such science. This “scope mission” is a lesson to young Liberians to get busy developing and inventing their own security technology to have or rely on future self confidence. So for this technology, even if a trade offer, we appreciate the United States Government’s action. We look forward to a final decision from the Liberian Government, as soon as the American Embassy has forensically presented its results. The purpose of the Justice we all seek, is the technique of the truth. Talking with the Liberian people. Do not chat with me.
    Gone in silence.

    • By the way, “forensic” does not necessarily mean “technologically” done. All it means is that the process was comprehensive, using “fine tooth comb” as they say to probe the problem. It is a shame that such a simple matter as tracing or tracking whatever the object of this investigation, whether physical cash or container, could not be handled by our Liberian security people. This must be why people die under dubious circumstances in Liberia, and our security people have no clue how to get answers. Yet they pass around with talkie-talkies and making fabulous salaries as if they knew anything. Shame on our security people for this national shame they bring on us by their incompetence in solving this uncomplicated problem. And when those in the know tell us not to split hair over nothing as everything is fine, then what is there to investigate? If the new governor is covering up for others in that regard, then by all means he’s not the right man for this office. More than that, that makes him complicit in whatever the crime committed. So while banning or unbending people from leaving the country, Mr. Patray needs to be added to that list of persons of interest as well. Remember during our uncivil war the AFL became recognized as a warring faction at some point, same logic with Patray.

  2. Sometimes you need to employ technology to investigate a financial crime, such as using tools to decrypt documents, electronic bank transfers, etc. But in this case, it’s a simple forensic investigation, following the paper trail and chain of custody of the money. How much money was printed? Is there record showing that the CBL received all the money? If yes, does the CBL have record showing how the money was infused into the economy? Those are some of the questions…it’s not that complex because the Liberian financial system is not very sophisticated.

  3. In 2014, Obama had offered US federal agents’ help to EJS in disrupting corruption which she ignored, thus, President Weah should appeal to President Trump to do the same. Liberians want closure, so it makes no sense accepting US embassy help to have a private for-profit firm investigate a case of national security significance, when we can have federal agents who would consider the impact on their families, careers, and reputations in every decision they make. Please, please, reject the seemingly USAID Trojan Horse; don’t take that leap of faith and regret gravely too!

  4. Mr. Sylvester Gbayaforh Moses: Can you provide the ligit source of your information that during Ellen’s administration she turned down an offer from former president, Obama, to accept US assistance in combating corruption in Liberia?

    As well informed as you profess to be how credible are you when you attempt to inform the Liberian mass public without releasing the actual source of such information?

    I hope that you are not one of them who often glean rumors from Liberian propagandists who pose themselves as journalists for the sole purpose of spreading lies about certain individuals and dragging their reputation in sluice
    .
    Please take us to that site for the sake of the mass public.

  5. Reading from numerous comments on Facebook and other sites on the request for independent investigation, it’s clear many misunderstand the role of the preliminary investigation by the forensic experts. As one commenter alluded to, it’s a comprehensive analysis of the entire process and procedures in place from the authorization to the printing and delivery, storage or custody disbursement of Liberian issue notes, including all the appropriate signatories at every stage of the process. They will then follow the identified process with respect to the L$16 b. At each stage of the process, they’ll note any deviation from the required processes, identifying appropriate stakeholder per the process (that can include no documentation, lack of signatories, insufficient process, etc.). This exercise will include reviewing documents, interviews with key persons for each stage.

    Based on findings from the above steps, they’ll determine what type of Investigation or combination of investigation need to take place. They could conclude that any one or all of the below need to take place:

    Fraud investigations.
    Theft investigations.
    Criminal investigations (this could include money laundering, embezzlement)

    This is what the U.S. Embassy was referring to when it suggested that at this point the government and the forensic experts will decide what in-depth Investigation to have. This is when they’ll have identified specific individuals as persons of interest for questioning. Under a worse case scenario where lack of documentation exists and based on the experts’ observations, if there’s any suggestion that certain public officials not part of the required process in the flow of the money, those public officials will be caught in the investigation dragnet (e.g., public officials who were suddenly taken on major personal projects that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars).

    So it’s embarrassing that the nation’s security and financial crimes Agencies couldn’t conduct the initial scooping investigation. I read in one paper where q member on the Investigation Team suggested that it could take up to two years. That’s two fiscal years!

    The use of international partners rather than the FBI is based on exactly how the FBI operates. The bureau collaborate with and uses various partners around the world when investigating various criminal acts in a foreign country, including other agencies of the U.S government like USAID.

    On the rumor that Obama offered to provide EJS with FBI Agents to help weed out corruption, it’s not true. It’s a blatant falsehood. And does not warrant debating.

  6. Mr. John Kollie, I wrote a comment, not thesis where attributions and listing of research-sources are a requirement. And unlike some boastful bookish blockheads, I don’t cherish the silliness of sitting down just to scribble lies; more so, on a matter of national security.

    In 2014, when EJS visited the White House to thank Obama and America for helping repulse Ebola – an event covered by the associated press which millions of viewers and I watched on CNN – she excused lack of basics such as gloves, masks, medicines, ambulances, etc., for first local medical responders on systemic corruption. President Obama then offered US federal agencies to assist in reducing our corruption. A pledge that was repeated two weeks later by his new Attorney-General Mrs. Coretta Lynch to President Buhari who also complained of his fight against corruption in Nigeria. That EJS didn’t seize the opportunity was so dismaying, it forced me to make a disparaging comment on FPA when Buhari showed interest in the AG’s offer.

    I don’t write falsehoods. As a matter of fact, my first piece on the media space in 2009 was to refute a malicious defamatory article written in the “Perspective Journal” by a prominent deceased journalist exploiting a long past official assistance to make a convincing case for an asylum application in Belgium. It was a teachable moment, and am indebted to the person who brought that article to my attention: I never stopped reading and writing on matters concerning boneheaded assumptions and presumptions intended to stoke chaos in our country.

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