‘No Money Missing in US$25M Mop-up Exercise’ – Says Justice Minister Musah Dean; Cites ‘Systemic Weaknesses at the CBL’
Monrovia – Frank Musah Dean, the Minister of Justice, has categorically defended the Minister of Finance and Development Planning and the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia that under their watches not a single penny of the US$25 million, which was intended to mop up excess Liberian dollar on the market ever went missing.
“There is, therefore, no issue as to the L$2.6 billion, representing the value of US$17M, being brought to the vault of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL). It can safely be concluded that no money is missing in the US$25 million mop-up exercise,” the Justice Minister said in count six of his “Response to the Auditor General’s Report on Factual Findings on the US$25 Mop-up Exercise Conducted by the Central Bank of Liberia.”
Minister Dean further said the process of exchanging the US$15 million used for the direct mop up as detailed in section 2.2.5 table 2 of the General Auditing Commission (GAC)’s report shows that US$6.7 million was taken out of the bank to be exchanged during the exercise.
There were five teams and US$8.3 million was exchanged at CBL premises.
“The accountability of the mop up funds is not in question, however, section 2.2.4 of the GAC’s report states that 15 entities listed by CBL, as having received money from CBL’s staff during the exercise, denied their participation in the exercise,” he stated.
According to the Justice Minister, eight of the entities on the CBL’s transaction list, were found not to be in existence and the burden of proof is on the CBL, which is headed by Mr. Nathaniel R. Patray, to establish the veracity of the transactions and the entities’ existence.
He averred that multiple sections of the report reference discrepancies and variances in the accounting records of the mop-up exercise.
“Again, these variances and discrepancies place the burden of proof on the CBL to explain these variances and discrepancies or to establish that they are not factual,” said Minister Dean.
He said the description of discrepancies, variances and delays in posting financial transactions, contained in the GAC’s report, point to the systematic weaknesses at the CBL.
Minister Dean also named the GAC, Kroll and the Presidential Investigation Team (PIT) reports discovered entrenched, systematic flaws at the CBL over the years.
He said there were recommendations made to President George Weah, who will address the nation shortly.
The Justice Minister said the US$25 million was authorized to be infused into the economy, to stabilize the exchange rate through the CBL.
The Justice Minister’s statement removed any blame, if there were any, from Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah, who has been on the receiving end of criticisms over his handling of the saga. Minister Tweah has maintained that the TEMT is only a policy making or strategy approving body. The GAC audit confirms Tweah’s statement that the TEMT approved the mopped-up strategy while squaring off with the Kroll report which stated that the CBL banking division implemented the money operations.
A source at the GAC, speaking to FrontPageAfrica on condition of anonymity Thursday said “the report was based on evidence. It is a report of factual finding.”
Section 1.4.2 of the report, however, points out that there was no corresponding USD account opened to hold the $25M USD to be drawn from the International Foreign Exchange Reserve account for the purpose of the mopped-up exercise.”
Governor Patray, per his documented interview, indicated that after TEMT’s authorization, the re-infusion of the mopped-up Liberian dollars started in November 2018 due to complaints from commercial banks and customers during the Christmas Seasons.
In its findings made public Thursday, the GAC concluded that it was able to verify that the Government of Liberia had paid back into the Foreign Reserve the US$25m borrowed for the mopped-up exercise.
Said the report: “The GAC was informed by the CBL through a formal communication dated April 2, 2019 with reference no. CBL/E Gov/NRP/2242/2019 that the Government of Liberia has not refunded the amount used for the mopped-up exercise although the MOU stated that GoL should refund the amount on or before December 31, 2018. The CBL on October 30, 2018 recorded in its books an account receivable of US$25 Million from the Government of Liberia.”