Liberia: Resumption of ‘Missing’ L$16 Billion Case Depends On Prosecution Lawyers – Court Source
Monrovia – FrontPageAfrica has reliably learned that hearing of the alleged L$16 Billion case involving five executives of the Central Bank of Liberia resumption depends on the request of the prosecution lawyers.
A source at the Criminal Court “C”, where the case is pending, made the assertion to FPA on Tuesday.
The disclosure comes as the August 2019 Term of Court continues for the second day across the country.
“All I can tell you is that the Central Bank missing alleged L$16 billion case resumption will depend on the request of the prosecution who has the task to inform the court of its readiness to start the case,” the source said.
The five central officials were indicted during the February 2019 Term of Court by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County on charges of economic sabotage, theft of property, criminal conspiracy, facilitation and solicitation following a report released by the Presidential Investigative Team set up by President George Manneh Weah to probe into the missing L$16 Billion.
They are former Governor Milton Weeks, former Deputy Governor for Operations, Charles Sirleaf, former Director of Finance Dorbor Haba, Director of Operations, Richard Walker and Joseph Dennis Director of Internal Audit.
The Presidential Investigation Team claimed to have uncovered a wide range of discrepancies in the printing of the new Liberian banknotes by Crane Currency in Sweden and brought into the country when the five Defendants served in various capacities at the CBL.
Two of the five Defendants Charles Sirleaf – son of former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – and Dorbor Haba Director of Finance were arrested on March 1, 2019 by officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) followed by former Governor Milton Weeks and then Richard Walker and Joseph Dennis and detained at the famous Monrovia Central Prison.
The Defendants were later released on an insurance bond issued by the Accident and Casualty Insurance Company (ACICO) but the insurance in an amount over US$900,000 was challenged by the prosecution.
The prosecution claimed that the bonds were inadequate to commensurate with the money in question.
The Defendants made their first court appearance on May 21, 2019, to justify their respective bonds and following the hearing, Judge Peter Gbeneweleh granted the bond, terming it as sufficient.
Following that ruling the prosecution again took exception to the Defendants’ representation by the Heritage Partner Law Firm who it claimed cannot represent the Defendants because the Heritage Partner Law Firm is currently benefitting a contract from the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) – a government entity.
According to Montserrado County Attorney Edwin Martin, lead prosecution lawyer, the Heritage Firm could not represent the Defendants who are prosecuted by the government when the firm is benefitting from a government contract, which he said equates to a conflict of interest.
Martin later took an appeal to the Supreme Court Chamber Justice Joseph Nagbe after Judge Gbeneweleh objected his argument.
But the Supreme Court Associate Justice Nagbe denied Martin’s writ of certiorari and told the Judge Gbeneweleh to continue with the case
Judge Gbeneweleh could not continue with the case when he was re-assigned to take over Grand Kru County Circuit Court on order of Chief Justice Francis Korkpor during the August 2019 Term.
If all goes well and the case is called for hearing the case will now be heard by newly assigned Judge Blamo Dixon, who has replaced Judge Peter Gbeneweleh at the Criminal Court “C”.