Liberia: Finance Intelligence Unit to Release Report on Missing Billions while U.S. Investigative Report Still in Limbo
MONROVIA – The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is poised to release its investigative report on the ‘missing’ 16 billion Liberian dollars, FrontPageAfrica has gathered.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
The FIU report is likely to be released ahead of the U.S.-backed independent investigative findings on the saga which many believe would be the most independent and reliable report relating to the missing billions.
It is not clear why the Embassy is yet to release its findings.
In September 2018, hundreds of Liberians and civil society groups marched the streets of Monrovia in a protest dubbed #BringBackOurMoney and petitioned the U.S. Embassy, European Mission, ECOWAS and the United Nations to independently investigate the alleged missing billions in Liberian dollar banknotes.
The protestors also called the international community to withhold “all direct support (in terms of financial and non-financial aid)” to the government until it can fully account for the missing money.
In response to the protest, the U. S. Embassy in October disclosed that USAID had reached out to independent, internationally recognized firms with specialization in forensic investigations to conduct a scoping mission that could ascertain the basic facts of the alleged missing currency and determine to what extent a broader mission would be needed.
U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, Christine Elder revealed in December 2018 that the USAID hired international forensic team had completed the “information gathering phase” which involved meeting with number of relevant persons in Monrovia, including those who are involved with domestic investigation.
She said the Government of Liberia provided full cooperation during the exercise, adding that the international forensic team has returned to where it came from and is now analyzing and compiling its findings to be made public, although she failed to mention how soon the report would be out.
When contacted last week by FrontPageAfrica on the status of the investigation, FPA was informed by the U.S. Embassy that it could not provide any further update either than what was provided by the Ambassador in December last year.
While the Americans are dragging to release their findings, the FIU is taking the lead to unveil to Liberians what unfolded in the missing billions saga. There is, however, concerns over the true independence of the FIU findings.
The release of the report comes ahead of the President George Weah’s Annual Message which he is expected to deliver next Monday at the Legislature.
At the opening of the second session of the 54th Legislature on Monday, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor noted that the continuous allegations of corruption and mistrust amongst government functionaries as challenges the CDC-led government is grappling with.
“There were some challenges attending our first year; with concerns being expressed in some quarters of our society about alleged missing funds; claims and counter claims of corruption and bribery; Bank Liquidity, perceptions of disrespect and mistrust amongst functionaries of government; and issues of the alarming rate of sexual and gender-based violence in our nation,” she said.
Vice President Taylor was very particular of the alleged missing 16 billion Liberian dollars.
The Liberian government’s accounts of the missing money have been conflicting.
Finance Minister Samuel Tweah initially said 16 billion Liberian dollars did not get missing. He later clarified that he never meant money didn’t get missing at all. He told the Liberian Senate that it could be possible that some money got missing. Mr. Tweah is a member of the Economic Management Team set up President Weah.
The Governor of the Central Bank, also a member of the Economic Management Team, had told reporters that no money was missing and that the money in question were in various vaults belonging to the Central Bank. He said all moneys printed by the Bank could be accounted for.