Ex-deputy Governor Expresses Satisfaction with Min. Tweah’s Explanation of the L$16bn ‘Hoax’
MONROVIA – Mr. Charles Sirleaf, ex-deputy governor for operations of the Central Bank of Liberia says, he finally feels vindicated by the Finance Minister Samuel Tweah’s explanation to clearly debunks the alleged missing L$16 billion that landed him and other officials of the bank behind bars.
Last Friday, Minister Tweah during a press conference provided a detailed explanation of the reported missing money which has continued to be a stigma on the Weah-led administration internationally.
He also claimed that the narrative of the missing L$16 billion was designed by the opposition political parties and the media to smear the image of the country and the government.
The early stage of the CDC-led government was marked by the missing L$16 billion saga, US$25 million mop-up exercises, and other news of rampant corruptions which led to several protests in the country.
But briefing journalists on the recent visit made by him and other top government officials to the United States of America, Minister Tweah at the Ministry of Information Special Press Briefing said, despite the fact that corruption has been a serious menace during the past regimes, the news about corruption in the CDC-led government are all “lies” carried out by people whom he said forbid the Weah’s presidency.
“The narrative of corruption is the narrative of the opposition and people whose role is only to delegitimize the government of President Weah. There are lots of things that happen among you media people on how you report the news. Corruption is a big challenge in Liberia. It has always been. Cllr. Gongle says corruption was 10 times under Madam Sirleaf, the former Auditor General John Morlu said it. So, historically, the thing we called corruption in Liberia has been there,” Minister Tweah said.
He added: “It is one thing to earnestly have the right to change this corruption, and it is another to say this corruption is a historical problem and that we don’t like this George Weah man – since we said he was never going to be President and he still forced his way on us. Let us find a way to weaponize corruption, use it an instrument and a tool of delegitimizing to unseat this man. That debate is different from the clear debate about fighting honestly corruption –that is what is happening in Liberia, we told that narrative to the congressmen also.”
According to Tweah, there is more to do in fighting corruption. He, however, emphasized that the L$16 billion story was a lie that was purely intended to tarnish the government’s reputation.
“When corruption is about facts and evidence, then we have to stand strong to fight corruption,” he said.
Tweah went on to explain of the Kroll report in the L$16 billion saga in an attempt to give the public a better understanding of what unfolded and how the country was cleared through the findings of the international investigators.
His explanation of the saga led to the Mr. Charles Sirleaf who was one of those arrested and imprisoned by the Weah administration in connection to the alleged missing billions, stating that he finally feels relieved from the ‘false’ allegation he was entangled in.
He commented, “I have always believed in the straightness of Minister Samuel Tweah. From day one, you have said that there is no money missing. Today, Live on radio, you were succinct, clear, and concise.
you detailed the entire L$16 billion saga, even delving into the disparity between Kroll and Crane [Reports]. I felt even more so vindicated than the court case. It’s those journalists and opposition that, in my personal view, led me unjustly to jail and brought about character assassination.
I am angered but today you eased my pain. Thank you.”
Further speaking on the issue of corruption, Mr. Tweah said the government has begun to change the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission’s Laws and that the Internal Auditing Agency (IAA) will ensure that no money will be spent without the approval of the IAA.
“We want to prevent fraud before it happens not when it happens before we go to investigate. The LACC is taking a more proactive approach. We pledged our commitment to our US State encounterpart about fighting corruption and improving governance that was part of our message,” Min. Tweah said.
Victim of Transparency
Tweah said the CDC-led government is not the first sitting leadership to carry out mop-up exercise.
He said during former President Sirleaf, mop-up exercise was continually done by the Central Bank of Liberia to stabilize the Liberian economy.
He said, these are standard things that have been done in the Central Bank but it was not politicized during Sirleaf’s regime.
He added that under the CDC-led government, the issue of mop-up has been publicized by the oppositions, something he says has made the government a victim of transparency.
According to him, during the inception of the CDC-led government, there was no micro-economic framework to deal with the high level of inflation that was in the Liberian economy.
“When we came, the reserve money had gone down. We could not look to the reserve because the last government, the principal way they managed the exchange rate was to continually bring the reserve money down, that was the only thing they knew,” he said.
Tweah added: “They (Sirleaf government) had surplus US dollars in the economy, iron ore prices were high-up, lots of aids money were flowing. So, they used to take the US dollars surplus in the Liberian market to go after the Liberian Dollars. They did all of those things including mop-up exercise.”
He continued: “But when the CDC-led government came to power, the government was warned by experts that we can no longer borrow from the reserve before the money gets depleted at the Central Bank of Liberia.”
This, he said, at the time created the situation where the exchange rate was skyrocketing in the country.
He said, “When President Weah announced in his speech that the government was using US$25 million to do mop-up that was not a new policy. That policy of using country reserve has been an extended policy that has been used by Madam Sirleaf regime for 12 years but it was just never announced by Madam Sirleaf,” he said.
He said Governor Mills Jones and former Governor Melton Weeks all mobbed up to stabilize the economy, but the amount used were, however, not announced by the regime.
According to him, if President Weah had not announced that US$25 million was going to be used for mop-up exercises by the Central Bank, there was never going to be an issue about US$25 million mop-up exercises.
He said, “So, honesty and transparency for public information has now become a liability.”
He said it does not matter how people want to change the transparency about the mop-up process, the President will continue to be honest and transparent to the Liberian people.