Liberia: Former CBL Board Member Switches Attention Back to Charles Sirleaf In Missing Billion Saga
Monrovia – Liberia’s long haul to establish more details about the alleged missing billions appears to be going in circus with accusing fingers pointing here, there and yonder.
Henry Karmo [email protected]
Claims and counterclaims between the former government of Ellen Johnson and George Weah-led administration sparked infuriation, as war-of-words saw political bedfellows become old adversaries. And then it subsided with the ‘GDP jibe’ just before the US government opted to takeover the investigation and determine where the money went or who is responsible?
While fingers are still sporadically being pointed, observers have always kept their attention on the Central Bank of Liberia, which is the statutory arm of the executive branch of government responsible for the printing and circulation of banknotes.
New Testimony Points To Sirleaf
And a latest testimony by a former board member of the CBL may just be enough to give investigators a clue about where to look to uncover facts about the alleged ‘missing billons’.
On Monday, November 12, 2018 Madam Melisa Emeh a member of the Board of Governors of the Central Bank of Liberia told members of the House of Representatives to look to the direction of Mr. Charles Sirleaf to answer to questions and concerns they may have about the ‘missing billions’.
The testimony from a former board member of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) may just be enough to give investigators a clue about where to look to uncover facts about the alleged missing L$16 billion bank notes.
On Monday, November 12, Madam Melisa A. Emeh told members of the House of Representatives to look to the direction of Mr. Charles Sirleaf for answers to questions and concerns they may have about the alleged missing bank notes in the ongoing investigation.
Three past and current board members including the former CBL Governor, Mr. Milton Weeks, appeared before plenary of the House of Representatives days after he (Governor Weeks) and former House Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay appeared to give testimonies about the reported missing money.
As former member of the board, Madam Emeh recalled that by 2016, there was a great need for additional cash because most of the banks didn’t have enough cash even with the five billion there was not enough cash so the Bank initiated discussions with the Legislature.
Said Madam Emeh: “Probably, we misinterpreted your communication for approval but we took it for approval. The Board doesn’t give approval we concur with the Legislature. We are board members and don’t interfere with the day-to-day running of the Bank.
“I left the Bank January 12, 2018 so I don’t know when the money came [to Liberia]. Charles Sirleaf has the information you are looking for. We had always used the Housing Bank down Waterside. It was left with the management to come forward to the Legislature with information.”
Madam Emeh’s testimony comes less than a week after the House of Representatives had accused former CBL Executive Governor Milton Weeks of authorizing the printing of the new banknotes without the acquiescence of the House.
During the first-day of the House’s hearing, the plenary exonerated all those that appeared, except the former CBL Executive Governor Weeks.
The Plenary then voted in favor of a motion by Rep. Edwin M. Snowe calling for Weeks and all those who served as members of the Board of Governors during the printing of the money to appear before the House, beginning Monday, November 12 and every other day-sitting of the re-called session until the fact is established.
The Plenary’s decision was triggered when Weeks admitted that the CBL had already entered into agreement with Crane Currency in Sweden to print additional L$10 billion before being authorized by the Legislature to replace the legacy banknotes.
New ‘Person of Interest’
But with the new testimony, it is now certain that more questions will now be bombarded at the former president’s son. The House of Representatives on Monday instructed its Chief Clerk to write the former CBL Deputy Governor, inviting him to appear before plenary. It is unclear when Mr. Charles Sirleaf will face the plenary.
Mr. Sirleaf has been a person of interest since news broke of the missing billions. At one point during the ongoing investigation, the Government of Liberia placed Mr. Sirleaf and several other staffs of the CBL on a travel ban.
‘The 15 Billion Was Infused into Economy’
Meanwhile, another member of the CBL Board of Governors, Madam Elsie Dossen Badio, during the Monday appearance, informed the House of Representatives that the money was printed, brought into the country and infused into the economy; adding: “It was done in the best interest of the country’s economy.”
“To the best of my knowledge, we did the resolution based on a request made by the Governor to the Legislature to print additional notes to put into the economy. The 15 billion came into the country and was infused into the economy. We acted in the interest of the country in replacing mutilated notes,” she stated.
Like other witnesses, Mr. Kollie Tamba, another board member, insisted that the Bank got its authority to print additional money from the Legislature.
“Our resolution addressed the mandate from the Legislature. We were specific about the amount,” he added.