Prosecutors Allege Conflict of Interest in Former Central Bank Governor Weeks’ Economic Sabotage Case
Monrovia – Former Central Bank Governor Milton Weeks, one of four Central Officials charged with economic sabotage in connection with the alleged 16 billion Liberian bank notes in the country has been caught into another predicament as prosecutor asked the court to reject his lawyers and one his sureties.
Report by Kennedy L. Yangian, [email protected]
In a motion filed to the Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice and argued on Monday, 27, 2019, the prosecutors are requesting the court at a pre-trial conference hearing to reject the Heritage Partners Law Firm from representing the former bank governor due to what they termed as conflict of interest.
The Heritage Partners Law Firm is owned and operated by the Dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia Cllr. Negbelee Warner
Solicitor General-designate Cllr. Syrenius Cephas and Montserrado County Attorney Edwin Martin are leading the prosecutor team at the pre-trial conference.
They claimed that their request to the court is based on the fact that the Heritage Partners had signed a legal contract with the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) since 2018 to provide legal services for that government entity.
“You cannot come to this court to represent someone who the government has charged with a criminal offense when you are benefiting from a government entity this is a breach of professional ethics and conflict of interest,” argued Cephas and Martin.
Cllrs Cephas and Martin also went on with their arguments by also requesting the court to deny the surety posed as property bond for former Governor Weeks by Dewitt Vanballmos, the current Director General of the National Social Security Corporation.
Both the two lawyers claimed Vanballmos is in government, therefore, he cannot surrender his property to be used as surety for someone that the same government is prosecuting for an alleged act of corruption this act according to the two-state lawyers breached the code of conduct for public officials.
The Heritage Partner Law Firm legal counsel Cllr. Abraham Sillah counter-argued that the state lawyers arguments were belated because they should have raised the issue within three-day as required by law after he had filed Weeks’ bond and announced his legal representation for the former governor and once this was done means that the prosecutors don’t have the legal basis to raise that issue now.
“Your honor the prosecutors had three days to raise that issue’ where were they when we started representing Defendant Weeks at the Police station, the Monrovia City Court and now at the Criminal Court “C”?” argues Cllr. Sillah, who prayed the court to dismiss the prosecution’s motion.
On the issue of the contract with the LRA, Sillah argued that LRA was created by the Act of the National Legislature in 2013 as a distinct government entity which has a board of directors as compared to other government entities and employees of the LRA are not civil servants as other government entities.
According to Sillah, no one has the right to prohibit a Liberian citizen from exercising his or her right to give out their property as surety for another Liberian citizen.
“Your honor, the prosecutors are trying to tell this court that as an official of government you should not lease your property to an opposition member,” said Cllr. Sillah.
Following the arguments from the prosecution and defense counsel, Presiding Judge Peter Gbeneweleh told the parties that ruling into the motion was reserved and will be delivered based on a notice of assignment.
Former Central Bank Governor Milton Weeks, former Deputy Governor for Operation Charles Sirleaf, Dorbor Hagba Director of Finance, Richard Walker Director for Operation, Joseph Dennis Deputy Director for Internal Audit are all indicted with economic sabotage, criminal facilitation and solicitation.
Their indictment has grown from the President Investigative Team (PIT) report over the alleged 16 billion Liberian banknotes printed in Sweden by the Crane Currency.