President George Manneh Weah says findings from investigation conducted by a London – based audit team over Liberia’s alleged missing 16 billion local currency are due at the end of February this year, warning that anyone implicated will face the full weight of the law.
In his second State of the Nation Address on Capitol Hill Monday, 28 February, Mr. Weah told legislators that the report will be released to the public by USAID.
“If it is established that there has been any willful act of criminality, negligence or malfeasance by anyone implicated in the report, the full weight of the law will be brought to bear,” he says amidst interruption from supporters cheering the Annual Address at the Capitol.
The alleged missing 16 billion report has rocked Liberia for much part of President Weah’s first year in office in 2018, sparking a populous campaign dubbed “Bring Back Our Money” which witnessed petitions to foreign diplomatic missions here, including the U.S. Embassy, the European Union and ECOWAS, among others.
Mr. Weah set up a local presidential investigative team, in addition to his request extended to external investigators to come and help government probe claims of the alleged missing Liberian banknotes.
U.S. experts have helped with the investigation, while local investigators also conducted their own probe, but delays in releasing findings into these investigations have in recent times generated fears in some quarters that these delays could lead to watering down the reports.
In his report to the Legislature Monday, Mr. Weah recalls that the news media in 2018 was circulated with reports of containers of money printed and imported into the country by the Central Bank of Liberia being allegedly missing.
Given the gravity of the allegations, he says his administration took several actions in response including setting up a special presidential technical committee to investigate.
He recalls that in addition, his government requested the assistance of the European Union, the African Union, the United States Government and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to help in conducting a separate external investigation into the alleged missing money.
With the assistance and support of USAID, Mr. Weah says an audit team from London, England was invited to independently investigate and report the findings.He says the report is due at the end of February, and it will be released by USAID.
By Winston W. Parley –Edited by Othello B. Garblah