IREDD Warns Against Selective Justice Following ‘Missing Billion’ Arrests

Herald Aidoo is the Executive Director of IREDD

Monrovia – The Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) is recommending to the Government of Liberia, in the spirit of openness and on the bases of exclusive rights of Liberian to Know, and right to information, release the full un-redacted report.

IREDD said it has taken note of swift steps by the government through the Liberian National Police to effect the arrest of some officials of the Central but has caution against selective justice.

Mr. Herald Aidoo IREDD executive director said his institution notes that the findings from the report are overwhelming and troubling and underscores the complete collapse of the country’s financial and administrative institutional systems, process and mechanism across the Public financial management chain and extremely weak oversight public institutions.  

“IREDD wish to recommend to USAID and the Government of Liberia that in the spirit of the doctrine of openness and on the biases of the exclusive rights of Liberians to Know and right to information, we call for the release of full and un-redacted report.”

Over the weekend Mr Charles Sirleaf, Deputy Governor for Operations at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) was arrested, cuffed and taken to the Liberia National Police Headquarters Thursday, February 28, where he is believed to have spent the night.

Mr. Sirleaf, son of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was picked up from the Central Bank amid tight security just after a board meeting, which he was a part of.

He was arrested along with Mr. Dorbor Hagba, Director of Banking. 

Another staff of the Bank was arrested is the former Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Milton Weeks,   turned himself into the Liberia National Police and undergoing investigation in connection with discrepancies in the printing and failure to account for several billion in Liberian dollar banknotes.

He was picked up Friday morning at his residence after the police officers barricaded his house the entire Thursday night.

He was escorted to the Police Headquarters by his lawyer, Cllr. Negbalee Warner.

The report unveiled many discrepancies as to the total and actual amount of new Liberian dollar banknotes printed, shipped and received by the Central Bank of Liberia, thereby creating doubts as to the total amount of Liberian dollar banknotes in circulation; as well as the negative impact said discrepancies are having on the economy.

The Presidential Investigation Team (PIT) in its report released Thursday disclosed that in 2016, the printing and importation of L$5 million was authorized by the National Legislature through resolutions issued by both House of Representatives and House of Senate. However, the contract between the Central Bank of Liberia and Crane Currency AB (an American Currency Printing Company with offices in Sweden) to print an initial L$5 million was consummated prior to Legislative authorization.

According to the PIT report, the Central Bank did not abide by international best practice for selecting and contracting Crane Currency to print the new Liberian Dollar Banknotes.