Liberia: ‘Legislature Authorized the Printing of Liberian Bank Notes’ – Former CBL Official

Ex-officials of the Central Bank of Liberia on trial for the alleged unauthorized printing of Liberian dollar banknotes

Monrovia – Indicted former board member of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Board of Governors, Kollie S. Tamba says the Legislature authorized the printing of Liberian banknotes to replace legacy banknotes in the economy.

Defendant Tamba testified that the Legislature’s approval for the printing of the banknotes was given through a letter dated July 19, 2017 signed by the House Clerk Mildred Saryon and the Senate Secretary J. Nanborlor F. Singbeh.

Co-defendant Tamba made the testimony on Tuesday at the Criminal Court ‘C’ when he took the witness stand.

Responding to the charges of Economic Sabotage, Misuse of Public Money, among others levelled against him in the indictment, Kollie said: “My response to that this is not true. The Board of Directors was read a document signed the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of the Senate that indicated that after numerous meetings with members of the Legislature, the plenary of both Houses (Representatives and Senate) in session, directed that they (Saryon and Singbeh) communicate the decision of this joint session to the Central Bank.”

Tamba continued: “Paragraph next to the last paragraph in this letter indicated that the House had issued its full and legal authorization to the Central Bank to effect the decision made in the plenary of both Houses. The members of the Board of Directors understood this document to be full authorization to the CBL to proceed with replacing completely all legacy currencies. The board not being a lawyer, also received a draft of the referenced resolution. In that draft, and we as members of the Board of Directors, believed as certified all legal requirements.”

Excerpt of the letter that constitutes defendant Tamba’s reliance that the Legislature’s authorized the printing of the banknotes states: “We (Legislature) present our compliments, and by directive of the plenary of the Senate and the House of Representatives respectively (In session) apprise you that in separate discussions on the declining State of the Liberian economy. 

“The CBL is authorized to introduce coins in lower denominations into the economy to allow fraction transaction which could help to minimize inflation. In view of the above, and with the power assigned to the Legislature under Article 35(D) of the Liberian Constitution, this shall constitute your legal and sufficient authority.

“Our understanding of the document of July 19, 2017 provided sufficient authorization to the CBL. Every member of the Board of Governors was fully aware of the that Legislative approval was required in order to replace sufficiently all the legacy bank notes. The board was also aware of the urgent need to avert a major crisis in the banking system.”

Tamba added: “Despite our awareness and appreciation of the urgency of this matter, no action was taken whatsoever until the board received it’s full authorization from the plenary of both Houses of the Legislature.”

He also denied the assertion made in the Indictment that members of the CBL board mandated ex-governor Weeks to enter into contract with Crane Currency (the company hired to print the Liberian bank notes) to print L$10 Billion bank notes.

“This is untrue. Signing of contracts is strictly in the purview of the e Executive Governor and it is a strict operational matter that the Board does not get involved in,” Tamba added.

However, amid all the allegations against the defendants (Weeks, Tamba, Badio and Farhai), the CBL, after its internal investigation of the allegation, told the public that no money was missing, and that all monies printed and brought into the country were place in the CBL vault. 

Also, the Ministry of Justice’s letter to Crane Currency dated January 10, 2020, which serves as the basis for which the State indictment against Crane was dismissed, also acknowledged that the company acted in good faith in the execution of the contracts entered into with the CBL.

Also, the Minister of Finance, Samuel Tweah recently made public statements on the air ways that no money is missing, and that the opposition should apologize for propagating such false news.

Defendant Tamba is on trial along with ex-CBL Governor Milton A. Weeks, David Farhat and Elsie Dossen Badio for the illegal printing of the alleged missing L$16 Billion Liberian bank notes intended to replace legacy bank notes.

They were indicted by the grand jury of Montserrado County on June 8, 2020 for the alleged commission of the crimes of Economic Sabotage, Criminal Conspiracy, Criminal Facilitation among others.