Liberia: Speaker Chambers Says US Agents Probing ‘Missing Billions’ have no Authority To Summon Legislature

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Monrovia – Liberia’s House Speaker Bhofal chambers says the United States agents probing the missing L$16 billion will fail if they attempt to include members of the House of Representatives in the investigation.

Report By Henry Karmo / [email protected]

Chambers stressed that the House of Representatives will honor no invitation from investigators as they are exempted from investigation – as provided by law, although he failed to specify the exact stipulation in the law.

“The people from the FBI know contemporary Democracy; they know contemporary constitution. They will never think of inviting the House of Representative for an investigation doing so will be a failure on their part,” said at a press conference on Thursday at the Capitol.

“There was some speculations that the chief clerk [of the House] was invited and if that is true it was an oversight and people involved have settled that, but this body cannot be invited for investigation.”

Chambers comments comes in the wake of claims and counter claims between the Central Bank of Liberia and the Legislature over who gave authorization for the printing of excess 10 billion Liberian dollar banknotes.

On one hand the CBL have claimed that it got legislative authorization to print excess 10 billion Liberian Dollars bank notes, while the Legislature (Senate and House of Representatives) have issued disclaimer stating they only gave authorization for the printing of only five billion.

In response to media speculation that investigators from the FBI visited the Capitol and held discussions with some members of that body, the Speaker said, “There has never being any information that investigators came to this House, this house is open to everyone and as of today’s date there has been no such case.”

In response to a question by a FrontPage Africa reporter during the press conference about whether the Government of Liberia established a Term of Reference for the investigation specifically for the foreign investigators, Chambers said that it is the function of the Executive to make the determination, assuming that if there should be any it would include the printing of the excess 10 billion dollars.

“The issue of investigation or prosecution lies with the Executive, and the term of reference has been developed by people given the task to do so. Without knowing the details, the TOR would be the scope of the printing of excess money because the five billion authorized by the legislature is what concern us,” he said.

“The House Representative is the fulcrum of democracy. Any other institution cannot invite this legislature; this legislature is under constitutional obligation to call anybody for questioning. The Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) told us there is no missing money so how the transaction and authorization was done in my view will be the point of investigation.”

‘People Making Noise’

The House Speaker, who happens to be the third powerful person in the ranking of the Liberian governance system, labeled Liberians calling for investigation into the missing money scandal as noisemakers.

“Basically, when people say bring back out money it’s noise because to say bring our money means you know where the containers are,” he added.

The House speaker has also played down claims that the legislature is demanding U$10K in order to return to special sessions. He confirmed that the legislature is making the decision to return and as per normal practice, they will do so to work in the interest of the Liberian people.

Oppositions Slow to Comment

Attempts to gather view from opposition political parties on the Speaker’s latest comments did not materialize as many opted to comment but promised to do so after reviewing the Speaker’s comments.

However, the Secretary General of Unity Party Mo Ali who quickly weigh-in on the Speaker’s stance said the foreign investigators will not be distracted by such comments.

“They will be investigating what happen to the reported missing billions, so if the trail leads to any one person or group of people, I’m certain they will be investigated.That’s one cardinal reasons why we opted for independent international investigators,” said Ali.

“I’m not sure the international investigators coming will not be taking orders from Speaker Chambers; however, if they are called on to answer some questions as part of the investigation and they refused, then that is clearly undermining and would lead to the investigation team not getting to the bottom of things.”

Campaigners calling for independent investigation of the money scandal have stressed that they don’t have confidence in the government’s handling of the investigation.

That was before the United States Embassy near Monrovia agreed to independently investigation the saga.

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