House of Representatives Orders Forensic Audit of Central Bank of Liberia for Past Five Fiscal Years

Monrovia – The Plenary of the House of Representatives has ordered a forensic audit of the activities of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) for the last five fiscal years.

Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh,

Plenary reached the decision in its 39th day sitting of the 54th Legislature on Thursday, June 18 based on the advice of its joint Committee on Public Accounts, Expenditure and Audit.

The committee was taxed to review the General Auditing Commission (GAC) report on the US$25 million mop up exercise carried on by the Central Bank of Liberia.

The mop up exercise was ordered by President George Weah shortly after taking over the presidency in 2018 to address the increasing depreciation of the Liberian dollars against the United States Dollars.

Like previous reports before it, the GAC Agreed-upon audit revealed that the exercise was marred by several irregularities.

Although, the GAC did not indict specific individuals, the ineffectiveness of the mop up exercise raised suspicions of embezzlement on the part of the Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT) which is headed by Finance & Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah and co-chaired by the Governor of the Central Bank, Nathaniel Patray.

However, in its recommendation, the Committee called for a forensic audit of the CBL covering fiscal period of July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2019 including but not limited to the US$25 million mop up exercise, the missing Liberian Dollars Bank Notes and the micro loan program.

The Committee, in its report noted that the Agreed-upon Procedure (AUP) approach utilized by the Auditor General in investigating the Mop-Up exercise is a report of factual findings which levied the responsibility on users of the report to take decisions based on the facts presented by the Auditor General.

It recommends the Auditor General to submit within two weeks upon submission of plenary, a comprehensive cost estimate to be funded by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) through the consolidated fund to enhance the conduct of a forensic audit of the CBL.

It then called on the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) through the consolidated fund to enhance the conduct of audit.

Disagreement Marred Joint Committee’s Recommendations 

Meanwhile, prior to the endorsement of the joint committee’s recommendations, several lawmakers vented that disagreement against the report.

Rep. Robert Flomo Womba (Bong County district #4), taking the floor noted the GAC audit report unveiled series of discrepancies over the disbursement of the US$25 million that warrant prosecution, adding that constitution another audit is a waste of government’s resources.

“Nowhere in the world that an audit report will come up with continuous deficiency and then we order another audit. We should stop wasting the Liberian people money,” Rep. Womba protested.

He was backed by fellow lawmakers including Reps. Larry Younquoi (Nimba District #8), Ivar Jones (Margibi County #2) and Beyan Howard (Lofa District #5). 

Rep. Younquoi indicated that there is substantive evidence of improprieties, and as such somebody should be liable. He wants those who oversaw the execution of the mop up exercise to be prosecuted just how Ex- CBL Governor Milton Weeks, Deputy CBL Governor, Charles Sirleaf and others are being prosecuted in the wake of the Kroll and the Presidential Investigation Team reports.

But other lawmakers including Rep. Edward Karfia (Bong District #5) Isaac Roland (Maryland District #3) and Rep. Clarence Gahr (Margibi County District #5), who co-chaired the House Committee on Public Accounts noted that the procedure used by GAC was not enough to warrant prosecution as it did not indict anyone.

In addition, he noted that based on several recommendations from Krolls and the Presidential Investigation Team, there was a need to conduct a forensic audit to hold people accountable if there was any misapplication; not an Agreed-upon audit as was in the case of the GAC. 

Following a motion by Rep. Alex Grant (Grand Gedeh District #3), the House voted on the recommendations through yea and nay votes; much to the dismay of several lawmakers including Rep. Larry Younquoi who opted for the votes to be taken by head count.  

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