Liberia: Govt to Cough out Thousands of Dollars to Settle Former Deputy Governor Charles Sirleaf or Termination of His Tenure at the Central Bank
Monrovia – The Liberian Government will have to raise hundreds of thousands of United States dollars as settlement to Mr. Charles Sirleaf, the former Deputy Governor for Operations of the Central Bank of Liberia and eldest son of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
During her confirmation hearing last Thursday, a specific question was asked Mr. Sirleaf’s successor, Ms. Nyemadi Pearson the nominee Pearson about how the George Weah-led government intends to settle Mr. Sirleaf. Madam Pearson replied: Government is arranging with Mr. Sirleaf on how they can pay him for his remaining years in six installments.”
The total amount has not been disclosed but it is said to be part of benefits for his remaining tenure as deputy governor of the Central Bank of Liberia.
Mr. Sirleaf was appointed and commissioned in February 2016 to a five-year-tenured position. He was dismissed in 2018 when the CDC-led government took office.
The Act creating the CBL states that both the Executive Governor and the Deputy Governor of the Bank shall be appointed by the President of Liberia, subject to confirmation by the Liberian Senate, from among persons of unimpeachable standing and experience in financial matters, for a period of five (5) years
Mr. Charles Sirleaf was amongst several other Central Bank staffers who facec charges in connection with the alleged unlawful printing of local currency worth millions of dollars that reportedly disappeared in 2018.
The former bank officials were indicted in the case were: Former Governor Milton Weeks; Finance Director Dorbor M. Hagba, Director of Operations Richard H. Walker, and Deputy Director of Internal Audit Joseph Dennis.
While the legal process was ongoing, President Weah appointed Madam Pearson to the position of Deputy Bank governor for operation. Her confirmation was on hold due to the legal proceedings surrounding Mr. Sirleaf.
On Monday, the Committee on Banking and currency chaired by Senator Marshall Dennis (CDC-Grand Gedeh County) recommended to plenary of the Senate to confirm Madam Pearson for the position.
In 2018, parallel investigations were launched by both Liberia and the United States following media reports in September 2018 that a container full of newly-printed Liberian banknotes, worth more than US$100milion had gone missing.
After months of investigation, the business intelligence firm Kroll Associates Inc. Released its findings, according to Kroll, only L$5bn of the total L$15.5bn was printed and distributed in line with Liberian law. The central bank did not receive legislative approval for the remainder of the cash but entered into another contract with Crane who proceeded to print and deliver the money to Liberia anyway. Kroll also found an excess of L$2.6bn was printed in addition to what was initially disclosed. The PIT’s report recorded a similar finding.
According to Kroll, the central bank sold $15m for L$2.3bn. This means that US dollars replaced older Liberian notes in the economy. The Presidential Investigative Team reported, however, that in addition to the $15m, another $2m was sold to oil and gas company Total. But the PIT also outlined that 15 of the companies listed by the central bank to have taken part in the “mop-up” exercise denied any involvement. Another eight companies listed by the central bank were not in operation when the PIT made their visit.
Solicitor General Sayma Syrenius Cephus has said that the move is in line with Liberia’s Criminal Procedure Law which gives prosecuting attorney the right to file for a motion to dismiss a criminal indictment against any defendant.
“As Executive Governor, Milton Weeks was Chairman of the board, he was part of decision making and rest of the people [Sirleaf and the three acquitted] only acted based on instructions given them,” he said via telephone. Prior to dropping the charges, Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay granted a motion for separate trials for the defendants.