Liberia: Mid-Level Central Bank Staff to be Implicated in US$25M Mop-Up Investigation?


MONROVIA – Not much is being heard about the investigation of the US$25 million mop-up exercise which the Kroll, Presidential Investigation Team and the General Auditing Commission all say was full of discrepancies, hence the need for further investigation.

The General Auditing Commission (GAC) in its reports blamed the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) for breaching standard operating procedure (SOP) hence, must be answerable for the discrepancies in the amounts disbursed to local money exchangers.

There have been many qualms over the blind eye given to some key members of the Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT) which oversaw the implementation of the mop-up exercise.

The TEMT was headed by Finance Minister Samuel Tweah and co-chaired by the Governor of the Central Bank, Nathaniel Patray. Min. Tweah is on record for saying that the team decided to carry out the mop-up exercise outside the regular banking procedure since that has not yield any fruitful results over the years.

However, impeccable sources at the CBL has informed FPA that there are attempts on the part of investigators to shield the big guns of the Technical Economic Management Team who were responsible for the overall administration and supervision of the mop-up exercise and lay the blame squarely on mid-level staff at the Bank. 

The Sacrificial Lambs?

Edwina Edet, a Cash Officer, Florence Crayton, Head Teller, Massah M. Sonie, Assistant Director/Banking Department, Jackson Wolobah, Deputy Director/Research, Department, Amaso Barnes, Director/ Financial Market Department, Flex Musa, Head/Auction Unit, and others, FPA gathered are listed to be hooked as scape goats in the investigation. 

“Now they are trying to accuse me and others instead of those that mandated us to do what we did and one colleague of ours in person of Matthew Innis died mysteriously from the beginning of this mop up exercise investigation and been one of the key players I am afraid for my life because they could even decide to silence me,” one of the employees informed FPA.

The staff added: “I was informed by an insider that I am targeted to be used to quiet the public since in fact, it has been made clear that no money lost and the public keep asking for people to be held accountable. They are thinking on using Massah M. Sonie and others that were not named but mine name was mentioned and since they cannot get Charles Sirleaf, former Deputy Governor, Dorbor M. Hagba, former Director of Banking and others, they are after me and others.”

Another employee of the CBL explained to FPA: “The mop up exercise started July 17, 2018 and ended October 26, 2018. The US$15 million that was sold amounted to L$2,303,363,898. The Liberian Dollars was logged in the vault of the CBL. The Kroll and the PIT investigators saw said cash. The GAC did not see the proceeds from the mop up because authorization was given by the Executive Governor for that amount to be paid to Commercial Banks and also be used to pay Ministries and Agencies salaries. The detailed report was prepared and submitted to the TEMT and there was no issue raised. From the beginning of the exercise, we were just call to submit names of tellers to go on the Streets to sell USD for LRD which we did as was instructed by our bosses. Staff at our level were never had part in the planning instead, we were just instructed and which we did and during the implementation of our functions there was an hourly reporting system coupled with a daily detailed report.” 

Who’s to Take Responsibility?

Both Kroll and the Presidential Investigative Team Reports point to discrepancies in the disbursement of the money, but the two reports fell short of establishing culpability. However, the Public Financial Management Regulations of 2009 explains squarely what the delegation of responsibilities entails by heads of entities. 

Section C.9. of the Public Finance Management Regulations of 2009 “Delegation of Duties by Head of Agency or Spending Unit (1) Unless a delegation is expressly prohibited or restricted by an enactment or in instructions, a Head of Agency or Spending Unit may, in writing, delegate authority for the performance of any of his or her functions to a subordinate officer who, having regard to the requirements of the assigned functions, is competent and capable. (2) A head of government agency or spending unit may provide for the delegation of his duties in the government agency’s accounting manual. (3) Delegation of authority to perform functions or duties under these regulations does not diminish the accountability of the head of Government Agency or relieve him or her of responsibilities provided in these regulations.”

In this case, according to pundits, the leadership of the Technical Economic Management Team is expected to take full responsibility for the overall happenings with the mop-up exercise.