Liberia: In L$16bn Trial, State Witness Staggers at New Documentary Evidence

During cross-examination, Baba H, Boakai could not deny or clarify that his investigation considered the documents introduced by the defense team of ex-governor Milton A. Weeks.

Monrovia – Defense lawyers representing the former governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Milton A. Weeks, has introduced new documentary evidence to prove their client’s innocence of the charges leveled against him by the State.

Defendant Weeks along with other former officials of the CBL were charged with the crimes of Economic Sabotage and Criminal Conspiracy, among others. They have been indicted for the alleged illegal printing of Liberian banknotes.

On June 30, Cllr. Abraham B. Sellah, lead counsel for Mr. Weeks, introduced new documentary evidence at the trial during cross-examination of prosecution’s first expert witness, Baba H.  Boakai.

The evidence introduced by Cllr. Sellah was a letter from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) addressed to Crane Currency, acknowledging that the company (Crane Currency) executed its contract with the CBL in good faith.

He also introduced a press statement from the CBL to the public acknowledging that there was no missing L$16 billion Liberian banknotes.

While on the stand, Witness Boakai, could not reconciled the documents presented with his previous testimony in court.

Witness Boakai served as the Program Manager for Enforcement and Investigations at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC). He also served as one of the lead investigators at the LACC who probe the defendants.

During cross-examination, Boakai could not deny or clarify that his investigation considered the documents introduced by the defense team of ex-governor Milton A. Weeks.

When questioned by Cllr. Sellah as to whether his investigative report covered the letter dated January 10, 2020, to the Crane Currency by Justice Minister Musa Dean, and the press release from CBL Governor Nathaniel R. Patray to the public, both acknowledging that the company executed its contracts with the CBL to print the banknotes in good faith and also there is no missing L$16 Billion, he replied: “As a witness in these proceedings, I have testified to instruments that I reviewed, analyzed and made reference to in my final report of the investigation that I was part of.”

“The instrument just read by the counsel was never a document that I came across or analyzed, and that I cannot speak to it.”

On June 29, Boakai told the court that the ex-CBL governor and Crane Currency were in violation of the very contracts signed for the printing of the banknotes.

He further testified that the LACC investigation established that the total amount of Liberian banknotes printed was L$13,004,750,000.00 in place of the L$10Billion.

He added: “Contrary to this, authority of the CBL informed the investigation that only L$10,359,750,000.00 as the total amount that was printed and received by them. So, from the analyses of the parking List which shows  the quantities and denomination of the total amount of bank notes printed and brought to Liberia in the tune of L$13,004,750,000.00 and that of the L$10,359,750,000.00 as reported by the defendant, you will have the variance of L$2,645,000,000.00 as the amount that is unaccounted for by the Co- defendant Milton A. Weeks.”

Boakai also testified that analyses of payment documents reveal that instead of the contract cost US$10,121,689.00, the CBL paid the total of US$10,555,587.00 for the printing of the L$10 Billion plus, thus leaving the variance of US$433,898.00 as the total amount that was paid in access of the contract cost.

However, a copy of the MOJ letter in the possession of FrontPage Africa, knowledge that Crane Currency acted in good faith in the execution of the contracts entered into with CBL.

“Having reviewed information additional to that contained in the Kroll and Presidential Investigation Team(PIT) Reports, including the detail of parking List, air cargo manifest and airway bills, the government of Liberia accepts that Crane Currency entered into contract with the CBL in good faith, in reasonable reliance on the bank’s lawful authority,” according to the letter.

It continues:” It is clearly documented that every bank note manufactured by Crane was delivered and accepted by the CBL and Crane was paid the amount for the bank notes delivered. As the result of the conclusion of this investigation, the government of Liberia confirms that the Indictment against Crane Currency has been dismissed and that no legal action of any kind will be brought against the company either now or in the future in regard to the aforementioned Crane order.”

Based on the letter, the defense team argued that the fact that the prosecution acknowledged that the contracts were executed in good faith, then no conspiracy occurred between the CBL and the defendants.

Meanwhile, when  witness Boakai was also quizzed on  the CBL press statement dated October 2, 2018 issued by former CBL Governor Nathaniel R. Patray clarifying that there is no missing L$16 Billion, Boakai could not deny nor confirm that his investigation also considered the document.

He said: “As I testified earlier to the report of the investigation team, I maintain that from the parking List received from the CBL, reviewed and analyzed, the total L$13,004,750,000.00 bank notes was printed, shipped and received by the CBL.”

However, according to the press statement, the internal investigation conducted by the CBL under Governor Patray, established that there was no missing monies as alleged in the indictment.

“That the new management of the CBL informs the Liberian public that it had concluded an internal assessment of monies printed and brought in Liberia between 2016 and 2018.”

It continues: “According to the record of the CBL, the total amount of money printed and placed in the reserved vaults of the bank was Liberian dollars L$15.5 Billion for the period 2016-2018. This amount was verified from the CBL internal Documents and documents received from Crane Currency of Sweden (the Contracted printer). The CBL wants to clarify to the general public and our partners in progress that there is no L$16 Billion missing as had been erronously reported in the media. The CBL has no records showing that monies printed under its authority have not yet been delivered into its reserved vaults.,” excerpt of the release acknowledging the CBL internal investigation stated.

These new documentary evidence introduced by Cllr. Sellah, legal counsel of defendant Weeks, has contradicted the prosecution’s first witness’s testimonies provided to the court against the defendants.

This means that the burden has now been placed on the prosecution to reconcile the witness’ testimonies to that of the documents introduced at trial; as the documents have become the point of contention for the defense teams in the case.