Liberia: Court To Decide Fate of Four Indicted Ex-CBL Officials In L$16 Billion Case

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Monrovia – The fate of four ex-officials of the Central Bank of Liberia including former Executive Governor Milton Weeks on trial in the “missing L$16 Billion” case will be decided by the Criminal Court “C’ at the Temple of Justice on August 25.

Judge Yarmie Gbeisay made the announcement Wednesday following a two-hour final argument by prosecution and defense lawyers.

The Judge’s ruling, which may either acquit or convict the defendants, is subject to an appeal to the Supreme Court if the defendants are convicted.

Wednesday’s arguments were characterized by claims and counter claims by prosecution and defense lawyers.

State lawyers argued that they have proven that the former CBL officials are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

On the other hand, the defense lawyers accused the prosecution of not providing evidence to prove the guilt of the Defendants, who were all in court Wednesday sitting quietly and listening to both side of the arguments.

Arguing, state prosecutors argued that the Legislature, through a joint resolution, mandated the former Governor of the CBL in 2016 to print L$5 Billion to replace mutilated Liberian banknotes on the market.

The prosecution further argued that the ex-CBL officials chose to print extra L$10 Billion outside of Legislative approval and in the process of printing the extra L$10 Billion, L$2.6 Billion of that amount could not be accounted for.

“We are aware of that amount of money printed and brought in the country and received and placed in the vault of the CBL but L$2.6 Billion excess could not be accounted for,” said prosecution lawyer, Cllr. Jerry Garlawolo.

As for the case against the board of Governor, the prosecution contended that the board passed a resolution to print the extra L$10 Billion when there was no authorization from the Legislature.

“Your honor, convict all of these Defendants because they conspired to carry out this act,” argued Solicitor General, Cllr. Syrenius Cephas.

The first defense lawyer, Cllr. Abraham Sillah representing ex-CBL Governor Weeks, counter argued that in the six-week trial, the prosecution did not produce any evidence as indicated in the indictment against the defendants.

Cllr. Sillah, a counsel of the Heritage Law Firm, stated that the law provides that the state shall prove every element contained in the indictment, adding that the joint resolution the state lawyers are relying upon to prove the guilt of the defendants is filled with irregularities.

He said the letter of July 19, 2017 addressed to ex-Governor Weeks was not a joint resolution but an authorization to print additional money since the initial L$5 billion was not enough to replace all of the mutilated banknotes.

Cllr. Sillah told the judge that the prosecution should not use the court as a weapon to “get at important people” and that the decision Defendant Weeks took was to safeguard the country’s crippling economy.

“In view of the foregoing take Judicial notice of our legal memorandum to this court and do just and equitable to the Defendants,” said Cllr, Sillah, who pleaded with the court to acquit the Defendants.

Former Chief Justice Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott, representing board members Elsie Dossen, Badio,Kollie Tamba, and David Farhat, argued that the defendants acted on the order of the Legislature.

Cllr. Scott said the Legislature should be indicted because they passed a resolution to print money that was unlawful resolution and that the money government claimed to be unlawfully printed have been used by the same government.

The former Chief Justice accused former House Speaker Nuquay, one of government’s witnesses in the case, of lying under oath that the Legislature did not give CBL the authority to the print money.

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