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Liberia: Gov’t Hires Assets Recovery Team’s Head to Prosecute 5 Indicted Central Bank Officials

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Monrovia – The case involving five executives of the Central Bank of Liberia has taken a different outlook with the inclusion on the prosecution team the head of the Asset Investigation Restitution and Recovery Team (AIRReT), Cllr. Arthur Johnson.

Cllr. Johnson, who is also Chairman, Special Independent Prosecutors on the Team, has been added to the state’s team prosecuting the five Central Bank’s executives. Johnson’s inclusion on the team was made known to FrontPageAfrica, Tuesday, September 10.

When this paper contacted Cllr. Johnson, he confirmed being hired by the government to prosecute the Central Bank’s officials in the case, which is set to resume Monday, September, 16. 

Legal practitioners, who spoke to this newspaper on anonymity after hearing about of Johnson’s inclusion on the prosecution team, see it as a tact team owning to the assets recovery head’s “astute experience in criminal prosecution.”

It’s not established what will be Cllr. Johnson’s retention fees throughout the duration of this case. Cllr. Johnson declined to disclose it to this newspaper when he was asked for conformation.

This is not the first time for state prosecutor to hire Cllr. Johnson, a leading criminal lawyer, in the country to serve on its team.

Cllr. Johnson, a private legal practitioner, was hired by state lawyers in 2017 as one of its prosecutors alongside former Solicitor General Cllrs. Daku Mulbah, the late Theophilus Gould among others to try the famous Sable Mining bribery case involving seven former and current government officials including a businessman.

The seven current and former officials, including former House Speaker Alex Tyler, were tried for allegedly receiving bribe in the amount of US$950,000 from a British Company Sable Mining to change the Public Procurement and Concession Commission’s PPCC) Act of 2005 in favor of the Sable Mining to mine the Wologisi Mountain in Lofa County.

During the course of the trial at that time, Cllr. Johnson joined his other colleagues to protest the ruling of then Presiding Judge Yarmie Gbeisay when he ruled and decided to temporarily accept the prosecution evidence obtained from South Africa until the witness to testify to that evidence can come to Liberia to testify.

Cllr. Johnson and his colleagues appealed to the Supreme Court to review the Judge’s ruling, which was overturned by the Supreme Court and the defendants were later re-arraigned on order of the high court for a new trial where the eight defendants were declared not guilty but Cllr. Johnson did not participate in the new trial for reason not given.

However, in the Central Bank’s Economic Sabotage case, Cllr. Johnson will be collaborating with the prosecution to prosecute former Executive Governor Milton Weeks, Deputy Executive Governor for Operations Charles Sirleaf, Director of Finance Hagba Dorbor, Director of Operations Richard Walker and Deputy Director for Internal Audit Joseph Dennis.

The five defendants, charged with economic sabotage, money laundering, criminal conspiracy and facilitation, had gone on trial after the Presidential Investigative Team (PIT), investigating the alleged missing L$16 billion report, accused them for the missing of over L$2 billion and US$837,000 under their watches. 

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