Former President dismisses allegations of her administration’s involvement in the alleged ‘missing’ 16 billion Liberian dollar banknotes.
The former President’s statement came days after Minister of Justice Frank Musa Dean, in a statement, said the current administration was not informed about the arrival of the containers and bags of money into the country.
Former president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, in a BBC Focus on Africa Program last Friday, said that the drama surrounding the alleged missing L$16 billion are clear lies. “What clear lies!” she said, noting that, “There is no missing money.”
She added: “They should take time and check the facts. They should take time and go through the process before coming to the public. The records are there. I am certain whatever my administration did was in accordance with the law and the Constitution and there is no money missing.”
She further told the BBC presenter that, “This container that they’re talking about, the Minister of Finance has been clear on that. He said there’s no container or money missing.”
President Sirleaf also questioned the motive of the government for holding on to the investigative report compiled by the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) surrounding the reportedly missing L$16 billion.
Madam Sirleaf added that the Central Bank has already done an investigation, which clearly gives an answer to the reportedly missing money, but it is surprising that the report has not been released.
“Why haven’t they released the report of the investigation? Why are they sitting on it? Does the President realize what he has done to the country? The reputation of the country is also at stake. Talking about L$16 billion; do they know what the GDP of this country is?” Madam Sirleaf asked.
She also distanced herself from the report that she ordered the printing of the extra L$10 billion in banknotes, although her government was ordered to print only L$5 billion by the legislature in 2016.
“I have to laugh because they don’t understand how things operate. The Central Bank is an autonomous institution and the legislature by its constitutional role gives approval for the printing of banknotes; the record on that is clear. They should have taken the time to check the facts before coming up to the public.
“I’m angry, I’m shocked. When it comes to the government, I say this is our country, we have a new President, and we all must support him for the good of our country. I’ll like to call on the government – given that the country’s reputation and innocent people’s reputation has been impugned – they must go back to the media and say that the investigation is concluded and the evidence and facts are known, they must go back to the media and correct it,” she added.
Meanwhile, Madam Sirleaf has frowned at the manner in which Information Minister Eugene Nagbe has disseminated information concerning the reported missing L$16 billion.
“For what I know, contracts were signed with a company called CRANE International to print the Liberian dollar banknotes only in Sweden. The records on that are clear. What Mr. Nagbe is doing is impugning innocent people’s reputation and credibility. I don’t know where he got his information from but he must answer to where he got his information from,” Madam Sirleaf said.
In a related development, President Weah, in a statement issued over the weekend, noted: “I ask all citizens to be patient and those involved in the investigation to be cooperative. I am confident that in the end, we will come to a logical conclusion into the circumstances surrounding this money and if anyone is caught in any financial malfeasance they will be held accountable to the full extent. I can assure you, my fellow Liberians, proper accountability of the money in question is vital to my government’s ability to improve your lives.
“As we accelerate our investigation to which I have invited international partners to join in in advising us to ensure transparency, let us remain calm and have faith in the process.
“I believe that the mandate I received from you is a mandate to end corruption in public service and I remain fully committed to this task. I promise to deliver on this mandate and I will not let you down.”