Liberia: Top Prospect for CBL Governor Post Rejects Government Offer As Search Intensifies

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Monrovia – The search for the next governor of the Central Bank of Liberia has reportedly hit a snag with one of the top prospects turning down a legitimate offer to replace Governor Nathaniel Patray.

According to multiple sources within the administration, Mr. George Fonderson, Chairman of Baker Tilly Liberia, and one of the country’s highly-regarded finance professionals, reportedly told the government that he is currently committed to various international projects and engagements, making it virtually impossible for him to accept the role.

One source said Fonderson fits the bill of the kind of person President Weah is thinking of bringing in to head the bank, and someone international stakeholders including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund would be comfortable working with. “That is the kind of bar that we want to set, a person of Mr. Fonderson’s character,” said the source speaking on condition of anonymity, Tuesday.

FrontPageAfrica recently reported that several officials, including ministers in the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change-led government had been ruled out of the running to replace the current Governor, with President Weah keen to see an independent-minded person in the post in hopes of moving the nerve center of the Liberian economy onto a totally independent path, and away from the excessive borrowing which marred the early days of the administration.

The administration is said to be looking to break from the past and favors a plan to  depoliticize the appointment of the next Governor.

This is said to be a key reason why the search has deviated away from politically-connected persons or current actors who have been in the old system.”

The source said the President’s insistence on the path of independence is a key reason why the appointment and vetting process has been delayed. “The CBL will have to be led by a totally new person who comes with high credibility and competence. All  current Ministers or officials appear to be out of the running,” a source familiar with the ongoing vetting process confirmed to FrontPageAfrica at the weekend.

In recent days several names have been circulated regarding Mr. Patray’s replacement. Among those reportedly being considered are current Education Minister Professor Ansu Sonii and Mr. John Davis, President of the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment; former Finance Minister and World Bank technocrat, Dr. Antoinette Sayeh and Boimah Kamara, also a former Finance Minister and former Executive at the CBL, among others.

Widely regarded as a straight shooter with bonafide international credentials, Fonderson is a Fulbright Scholar and was a founding partner in 1992, of the firm that now operates as Baker Tilly Liberia.  He is a US Certified Public Accountant licensed in Washington DC, with over 30 years of post-qualification experience. Additionally, he is a Chartered Professional Accountant accredited in Ontario, Canada and a Certified Information Systems Auditor. He holds an MBA in Finance from the American University in Washington DC, USA, and a BBA Degree in Accounting, with high honors, from the University of Liberia. He is a member of the Liberian Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ghana and the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya. 

“The CBL will have to be led by a totally new person who comes with high credibility and competence. All  current Ministers or officials appear to be out of the running.”

– A source Familiar with the Ongoing Vetting Process

Earlier in his career, Fonderson spent many years in senior international roles at Deloitte & Touche, the largest professional services and accounting network in the world. He served as Director of Operations and a Board member of Deloitte & Touche Consulting West Africa (based in Ghana), Partner-in-Charge of Enterprise Risk Services for Deloitte & Touche East Africa (based in Kenya), Regional Coordinator for Deloitte & Touche Africa Region (based in South Africa), and Firm Director for Controls Assurance and Risk Management at Deloitte & Touche Canada. During his years in Africa regional management, he was privileged to represent the Africa region on Deloitte’s Risk Management and Information Technology Committees for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Region.

Since 2012, George has been actively involved in  the evolution and development of professional practice in Liberia, serving as Chairman of Baker Tilly Liberia. In this role, providing oversight and insights on the firm’s strategy and the development of its international alliances. 

Mr. Fonderson has been a consultant / advisor to various banking and financial services entities across Africa over the last 20 years.

In addition to his roles in professional accounting and consulting, George has served as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of a publicly-traded Canadian company, handling all aspects of financial reporting, regulatory compliance and corporate governance for its operations in Canada and emerging markets. He played a key role in completing the steps necessary to successfully conclude the company’s initial public offering (IPO). At various times, George has also undertaken roles as Chief Risk Officer / Chief Audit Executive for a number of companies that trade on major international stock markets. 

Fonderson has been actively involved in a number of professional organizations and, over the years, has presented or served as a professional resource-person at various professional forums, in many countries. Additionally, he has lectured at the College of Business and Public Administration, University of Liberia and is past Secretary-General of the Liberian Institute of Certified Public Accountants (LICPA). He remains keenly involved in the development of the accounting industry in Liberia and has chaired many of the Institute’s standing committees over the last 30 years.

He has been a member of the Technical and Standard Setters Forum of the Pan African Federation of Accountants (PAFA). George was Vice President of the Liberian Business Association in the 1990s and, in 1994, received the association’s Distinguished Personality Award for his contributions toward the development and enhancement of Liberian business initiatives.

The President announced on May 29, 2019 a timeline for Mr. Patray to take his bow from the bank. “The Executive Governor is scheduled for age-related mandated retirement in the next three months. During that period, we will work to transition the bank to new management.”, the President indicated.

His Deputy Presidential Press Secretary Smith Toby, announced last month that the President will name an appointment and restructure the leadership of the Bank this month.

Established on October 18, 1999 by an Act of the National Legislature of the Republic of Liberia, the Central Bank became functional in 2000, succeeding the National Bank of Liberia (NBL). Mr. Elie E. Saleeby, who served as the Bank’s first Executive Governor, is among those linked for a return. 

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