Liberia: UP, LP, ANC & ALP Respond to New Audit Mandate to the GAC; Think Pres. Weah Wants to Shield Tweah, Others
Monrovia – The four collaborating political parties — Unity Party (UP), Liberty Party (LP), Alternative National Congress (ANC) and All Liberian Party (ALP) — have categorically denounced President George M. Weah’s recent mandate to the General Auditing Commission (GAC) in which he instructed them to conduct a forensic audit, which was asked for in the Presidential Investigative Team’s report, alongside the USAID-sponsored Kroll report. According to these parties, which are now under the banner ‘Collaborating Political Parties (CPP)’, they think the President’s call is an attempt to shield his Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah and other members of the Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT).
“The President has directed the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to conduct a FORENSIC AUDIT into the MISAPPLIED, MISAPPROPRIATED or even stolen US$25 million that was meant to mop-up the excess Liberian Dollar from the market. We believe that this is an attempt to circumvent justice and shield Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, Central Bank Governor Nathaniel Patray and other members of the TEMT from prosecution,” the CPP, which is now being chaired by the former Standard Bearer of the All Liberian Party, Mr. Benoni W. Urey, said in a press statement.
Below is the rest of their statement:
“If the government relied on the investigated report from the Presidential Investigating Team (PIT) and the Kroll report as a basis for the arrest of Milton Weeks, Charles Sirleaf and other members of the Central Bank, these same reports should be used as reliance for the arrest of Minister Tweah and Governor Patray.
The four collaborating political parties and the majority of Liberians are baffled by the government’s decision to arrest some Liberians based on these two reports and at the same time request further investigation when it relates to officials in his government (Minister Tweah and Governor Patray).
We are not comfortable with this decision and believe that this is yet another attempt by President Weah to shield his confidants for the crimes they might have blatantly committed.
It is a glaring fact that audit reports are not normally the basis for prosecution. Instead, they create the basis for a further criminal investigation to be conducted by either the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) or the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). While audit reports of the GAC are subject to criminal investigations by the LACC; criminal investigations conducted by the LACC are not subject to audits by the GAC. Audits usually precede criminal investigation. Where we are in the process with a Presidential Investigation Team (PIT) report already issued by the LACC, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), which formed the basis for the arrest and prosecution of Milton Weeks et all, we need to use the same PIT report to prosecute those responsible for stealing the US$25 million; failing that and if the government chooses to do further investigation, any such investigation must be a continuation of the PIT investigation and could incorporate the GAC to give technical support.
Therefore, requesting the GAC to exclusively conduct the forensic investigation, to the exclusion of the LACC and the FIU, only inserts another layer in the process that could create the basis for unnecessary delay to bring to justice all those (including -Minister Tweah and Governor Patray) who bear culpability for the misuse of the US$25 million during the mop-up exercise.
While we appreciate the government effecting initial arrests in the issues surrounding the missing billions, we call on the government to avoid the temptation of applying selective justice. There should be no SACRED COWS as all those implicated in both reports are equal under our laws.
Of major concern also is the finding in both reports that there was possible MONEY LAUNDERING in the execution of the mop-up exercise conducted by Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah and CBL Governor Nathaniel Patray. This finding is of grave concern to the opposition community and the Liberian populace in general as it has the propensity to put the country on the spotlight in a negative way and also damages the image that we fought to build over the years. This in addition to the squandering of the US$25 Million by the TEMT is pressing reasons why this issue should be a priority to the government of Liberia.
Mr. President may we remind you of your commitment to serve the Liberian people irrespective of their financial, social or political positions in society. In this view, we would (if you have not already been informed) that the three other former and current employees of the Central Bank of Liberia that are still in prison have health challenges. In some instances, even worse than Deputy Governor Charles Sirleaf. Therefore, we are requesting a compassionate release of the three as was done for the others while they undergo investigation for whatever crimes they allegedly committed.”