Liberia’s Missing Billions Saga: US, Liberia Agree to Independent, Forensic Probe
Monrovia – The U.S. Embassy in Liberia, through USAID, says it has reached out to independent, internationally recognized firms with specialization in forensic investigations to conduct a scoping mission in a bid to ascertain the basic facts of the alleged missing currency matter and determine to what extent a broader mission would be needed.
In a statement Wednesday, the embassy based on their assessment, that such a report would be the most credible and effective means to quickly determine 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.
The statement added: “If a broader and longer investigation were found to be needed after the scoping mission has concluded, the Liberian government could discuss next steps with international partners. To ensure the effectiveness and integrity of the process, the U.S. and Liberian governments have agreed that the independent forensic investigators will conduct their work with full access to information needed and without the imposition of additional actors from the government, civil society, or international partners.”
The embassy further noted that in addition to the terms, both parties have agreed that the completed report will be made public, so that there is full transparency and understanding of the 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.”
The US statement comes just less than a week after Central Bank of Liberia governor Mr. Nathaniel Patray declared that the CBL had no record showing that monies printed under its authority have not yet been delivered into its reserve vaults. “Records from Crane Currency of Sweden, which was contacted to print the money, show that Crane delivered L$15.5 billion through the Freeport of Monrovia and the Roberts International Airport between 2016 and 2018, and that all these monies were logged by the CBL and delivered into the reserve vaults of the CBL.”
The CBL President’s statement drew angry reaction from many concerned that the bank was pre-empting the investigation.
This was further bolstered a few days later when the investigative team set up by President Weah complicated matters by stating that there was no need for international assistance to probe into the missing money.
Alex Cuffy, who is the brother of Madam Celia Cuffy Brown, the acting head of the National Port Authority (NPA) when billions of local currencies reportedly came into the country, is being boggled by concerns over conflict of interest.
Both Mr. Cuffy and Mr. Chalres Gibson, representing the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, said last week that they saw nothing wrong with the CBL’s statement. “We interpose no objection to the matter. I think it was a good statement. As a matter of fact, if a group of people gives you something to keep for us and someone comes and says it is lost, it is only fair to come and say something.”
The US intervention come amid a recent FPA investigative report which found that additional monies were printed in South Africa.