-In CBL L$2.6B Trial
The possibility of the government establishing its criminal case against former Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Milton Weeks, could likely be a reality only if four former executives of the Bank, including former Deputy Governor for Operations, Charles Sirleaf, who saw charges against him were recently dropped, accepts any offer to testify in favor of the state.
Sirleaf, together with Weeks, Dorbor M. Hagba, Director of Finance, Richard H. Walker, Director for Operation, and Joseph Dennis, Director of Internal Audit, were jointly indicted in 2019 with multiple charges that range from economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy, and criminal facilitation.
They were said to have acted unilaterally and unlawfully by printing and importing into the country three times the amount of banknotes that they had been authorized by the Legislature to print.
To sustain their quest to convict Weeks, the state prosecutors on Friday, May 16, made a submission before Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay, pleading to the judge about their desire to modify the early motion of nolle prosequoi (drop charges) filed before the court in favor of the four co-defendants.
Judge Gbeisay is yet to make a determination into the matter. However, the state prosecutors had said they were dismissing the charges against Sirleaf with prejudice to the state, meaning that the case with Sirleaf is dismissed permanently and cannot be brought back to the court.
Usually, such a decision can be taken based on a contractual agreement wherein the individual, on whose behalf the charges are dismissed, has to agree to testify in favor of the state.
It is unclear whether what was the agreement with Sirleaf, who served as Deputy Governor at the time of the incident in March 2018, will agree to serve as a key witness of the state against his former boss, Weeks.
And, if it were to be the case, it would mean that Sirleaf may have disregarded the humiliation and disgrace he and his onetime confidant went through when they were first arrested and subsequently jailed on multiple occasions by the government.
Hagba, Walker, and Dennis, meanwhile, the state dismissed their cases without prejudice, meaning that the case against them can be reopened if they were to refuse the terms and conditions of the agreement if there exists any.
It can be recalled that the former CBL executives were indicted after a report of the alleged missing LD$16 billion was released.
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 some billions of newly printed Liberian banknotes in 2018.
Initially, it was widely reported that shipping containers full of banknotes had vanished from the Free Port of Monrovia and the Roberts International Airport, in Margibi County. However, the report by then did not find 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 number of banknotes it had been authorized to print.
The banknotes were said to have been printed by Crane Currency — a currency printing company in Sweden, but the company challenged the government to prove that Crane did anything illegal, which did not happen until the state prosecutors dismissed the accusation against the Crane Currency.
Initially, the government had claimed that Sirleaf, while serving as Acting Bank Governor, conspired with his boss Weeks and other officials of the bank, all of who intentionally printed and caused the printing of the excess Liberian dollars, which actions on the part of the defendants have the propensity to cause serious economic instability, undermine the government and cause citizens to rise up against the government.
Those are the individuals the government solely relies upon as its key witnesses by dropping their charges in return for the testimonies.