The Nation Now Awaits Your Action Mr. President, Now That the PIT Has Submitted Its Report.

5
185

Finally, the long awaited report on the “Missing Money” has been released by the Presidential Investigating Team (PIT) and to the surprise and perhaps dismay of many in the public, there is no missing container, as had been widely speculated. Instead the report states that the Central Bank has yet to fully account for L$2,645,000,000 (two billion, six hundred forty-five Liberian dollars). But experts say if the amount cannot be accounted for it could be interpreted to mean that the amount is missing.

This unaccounted for amount represents the variance between the 15,506,000,000 (fifteen billion, five hundred and six million Liberian dollars) in currency banknotes shipped to Liberia by the Crane Currency, and the L$18,151,000,000 (eighteen billion one hundred fifty-one million Liberian dollars) actual amount of banknotes  printed, shipped to Liberia and received  by the Central Bank into its vaults.

It can be recalled that various sections of the public had expressed strong reservations about the integrity of the PIT, fearing that it could be compromised or that its report would be doctored before its release to the public. But not withstanding, the apprehensions the PIT, in the opinion of this newspaper, has dispelled the fears of the “doubting Thomases”.  The report constitutes a virtual indictment of the Central Bank’s performance during the reign of President Sirleaf which dates as far back as 2016 when the Legislature authorized the printing of 5 billion Liberian dollars.

It can also be recalled that this newspaper in its October 2, 2018 editorial headlined, “Play Play Kill Bird“, amongst other things had this to say: “Additionally, alarm bells have been triggered by the corrupt and apparently criminal behavior, with impunity, of CBL officials deliberately ignoring the need to officially record financial transactions on the books of the bank. Strangely, and for unexplained reasons, the CBL’s Board of Governors including the Board of Directors should be equally held liable for such flagrant departures from official policy and best practices in financial management”.

“These CBL officials are charged with a statutory responsibility to provide oversight on the CBL’s operations. Granted, the Legislature may have issued unclear directions to CBL leadership on the printing of additional currency banknotes, why did the Board of Directors including the Board of Governors overlook gross transgressions of public policy by the leadership of the CBL and why did they not put a halt to the unapproved printing of additional banknotes”?

“Further, why are these officials not being held liable for gross negligence of duty including malfeasance and nonfeasance in the discharge of their duties and responsibilities? Given the virtual lack of proper accounting and recording of transactions, it may very well prove difficult to bring any CBL official to book since any considerations of prosecution must be based on facts. How well can these facts be established will prove a daunting task, primarily because of the apparent criminal behavior of CBL and Finance Ministry officials”.

Recalling further, this newspaper in its September published an article written by J. Yanqui Zaza, a financial analyst and regular contributor to this newspaper. The article, headlined, “Did President Weah Pump the 3/23/18 L$374B into the Economy without Recording as President Sirleaf Has Claimed in 2016 AND 2017”, observed that Financial Notes within the 2016 and 2017 audited financial statements of the CBL did not reflect any information about the L$5b and L$10B of printed banknotes.

And Mr. Zaza questioned whether such was due to an error or an official decision to omit such relevant information. And if indeed, CBL officials made a conscious decision to omit those transactions from the records, why did they do so, was the question raised. And Zaza further observed that two separate external Audit Firms (PWC) and KPMG examined these records in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Continuing, Mr. Zaza observed that the CBL under President Sirleaf’s watch did not disclose any Financial Notes within the audited financial statements to indicate the value of the money printed in 2016 and 2017 respectively. The CBL also did not disclose the amount of mutilated Liberian dollar banknotes destroyed or replaced or any amount pumped into the economy granted it actually did pump money into the economy.

It is indeed interesting but not surprising that the PIT would come up with findings closely paralleled to issues raised in previous editorials as well as articles written by Mr. Yanqui Zaza. This is because the facts are so compelling that they are difficult to ignore.

As the findings of the PIT show, it appears as though the entire operation was driven by criminal motives and or intent. And it does appear amiss that senior as well as middle level management of the CBL including the management of Crane Currency would have committed such brazen acts were they not assured by a higher authority of impunity for their actions in case such actions ever did come to light.

This newspaper must commend the PIT for a job well done. It should not be forgotten that the investigation was but a human endeavor prone to mistakes as any human enterprise and is more likely than not to have its shortcomings. However pitted against the many challenges, some of which include inadequacy of time and a lack of adequate financial resources as a spokesperson of the PIT indicated.

This newspaper must also commend President George Weah for commissioning the investigation and allowing it to discharge its functions without interference as far as available evidence suggest. As always it has unfailingly warned President Weah of the consequences of failing to take charge and lead lest he be led by others to an uncertain and unkindly fate.

Now the nation awaits his action on the recommendations put forth by the PIT. He cannot this time falter and react in similar fashion as he did with the recommendations of the Presidential team set up to probe bribery claims against former officials involved in the ExxonMobil bogus deal.  The nation now awaits your action Mr. President, now that the PIT has submitted its report.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Editorial Board of the Daily Observer:

    Sir, I think you should revisit the report and consider the idea of revising your conclusion that the L$2,645,000,000.000 is the only amount of money missing, implying that the report provided documentations proving that the Central Bank of Liberia deposited the L$15,506,000,000.00
    In government’s account held by the Central Bank of Liberia.

    Sir, in your article, dated 3/1/2019, you stated that the only amount to be accounted (or missing) is the difference L$2,645,000,000 (i.e., L$18,151,000,000 and the L$15,506,000,000 accounted for).

    Sir, did the report provide any evidence to support the findings that L$15,506,000,000 was accounted for?

    1) For example, did the report provide documentations to prove that commercial banks gave L$15,506,000,000 old banknotes to the Central Banks of Liberia?

    2) Or, did the report provide documentations to prove that the Central Bank of Liberia gave L$15,506,000,000 new banknotes to the commercial banks?

    3) Or, did the report provide documentations that the Central Bank of Liberia deposited in other central banks in Africa or outside of Africa a portion of the L$15,506,000,000 or the entire amount of the L$15,506,000,000?

    4) Or did the report provide documentations to show that the respective ending balances of currency in circulation in 2016, 2017 and 2018 reflected the addition of new banknotes in case the Central Bank of Liberia did not destroy the old banknotes?

    5) Did the report provide documentations to prove that the appropriate authority destroyed the L$15,506,000,000 old banknotes?

    If not, should the Government of Liberia ask the Central Bank of Liberia for the L$15,506,000,000?

    Thanks.

    • Very salient questions, Mr. Zaza. It is always enlightening to hear/read the perspective of seasoned contributors like you on these confounding national issues as sort of guideposts in our quest for the panacea to those issues.

      Hopefully others of similar or equivalent expertise as you will chime in to take us through this maze. From a layman’s perspective, it seems from this report that the perennial problem of accountability or lack thereof is still the Achilles’ heels of the GOL.

      When any leader, administrator, caretaker, manager or government official for that matter cannot account for public assets entrusted to him/her for a given purpose and over a given period, it spells problem/dishonesty ranging in scope from embezzlement, pilfering, misappropriation, corruption, etc., etc.

      In some instances the leader or administrator may not necessarily be personally liable or the heister or cheat in the obtaining scenario. Rather, it could simply be as a result of the absence of records/documents, processes, procedures or anything exculpatory to exonerate the individual or situation, period. This is alluded to in this report.

      From John Morlu’s tenure as Auditor General of Liberia few years ago, as well as with succeeding auditors thereafter, no government entity audited ever came out clean or clear of the cloud of “misappropriation.” Every audit report has come out with the same dismal and depressing result-Guilty as hell!

      Meanwhile, ministers and directors always came back kicking and raging over those findings, insisting they were innocent of any expropriation. The experiences were eye-opening in themselves, serving at the same time as teachable moments, wherein the GOL would begin to install or put in place processes, procedures, requirements, systems, policies, etc., as a way of correcting those oversight deficiencies.

      It is regretful and distressing that 13 years after the fact, we are still grappling with same “lack of procedures, processes, policies,” etc. in conducting our national affairs.

      Let me remind us here that upon the declaration of Liberia as a sovereign and independent nation in 1847, Great Britain, France and other nations immediately recognized Liberia as such, in terms of respecting all the rights appertaining thereto, other geopolitical hardball by some of these same countries notwithstanding.

      Meanwhile, it took the US nearly 10 years after 1847, before it would recognize Liberia as an independent and sovereign nation. Why? That explanation could be a dissertation by itself, but suffice it to say US leaders at the time did not believe any group of black people were capable of running anything, much more a government with all its complexities anywhere and all by themselves. Impossible!

      Liberians were on the verge of proving to not only Americans, but the whole wide world that they could run a government on their own, without the input of especially any Caucasian. If you ever thought the “Negroid descent” clause in our constitution was racist, well, therein lies the rationale.

      So why all this historical excursion? you may ask. Simply that we continue to prove the US and other Caucasians right all the time and from the beginning of time by not just these subnormal actions, but especially when we go running to them to rescue us from ourselves! Be it for peace, health, education, bi/multilateral aid, you name it, the disdain continues in that regard.

      As indicated in this “Missing Money” report, the finances of any nation like the strength of its military, etc., are matters of national security and ought to be guarded to the chest as such.

      Reasons why the selection/election of competent people to manage our national affairs, ought to be taken seriously as we perfect our national democratic aspiration. That way we could do some of these things by ourselves, without necessarily involving and thereby exposing national security interests to outsiders no matter the purported level of friendship.

      Thank you once again, Mr. Zaza, for your foundational piece.

  2. Hi Mr. Hilary Snyder,

    Once again, thanks for your comment and commendation. And I hope other
    analysts will accept your recommendation and join this important debate.

    However, I am worry that the news media was quick in accepting the report from the investigating team and concluded that the Central Bank of Liberia accounted for L$15,506,000,000 new banknotes.

    The investigating team informed the public that authorities at the CBL did not provide evidence that it (CBL) gave the new banknotes to the nine (9) commercial banknotes. Also, the investigating team stated that the team did not receive any evidence from the CBL that it (CBL) received old banknotes from the nine (9) commercial banks. If CBL did, it (CBL) provided no documentation that it (CBL) destroyed the L$15,506,000,000. old banknotes, stated the investigating team.

    Further, the investigating team did not say if it (investigating team) contacted officials at the nine (9) commercial banks to investigate if CBL gave them (9 commercial banks) the new banknotes, and/or if they (commercial banks) gave the old banknotes of L$15,506,000,000 to the Central Bank of Liberia.

    The investigating team stated that the CBL infused the L$15,506,000,000.00 into the Liberian economy. If true, how did the Central Bank of Liberia infuse the L$15,506,000,000.00 into the economy? The investigating did not explain.

    Did the investigating team provide a schedule and documentation to explain the 2016, 2017 and 2018 beginning and ending balances of Liberia’s Currency in Circulation? Did the investigating team provide a schedule and documentation of CBL’s 2016, 2017, and 2018 deposits held within banks located outside of Liberia?

    Should the public assume that CBL infused the $15,506,000,000.00 new banknotes into the economy the same method the Officials at the Ministry Finance used in using US $17 million to buy back Liberian dollars?

    I hope the news media could get more answers to these questions and inform the public by Monday.

Leave a Reply