President George Weah will certainly have a lot to say when he delivers his second annual message to the nation on Monday, January 28, 2019 at the National Legislature. A key expectation would be the findings in to the United States’ sponsored investigation into the “missing 16 billion” Liberian bank notes, but will he?
Already speculations abound that Mamba Point (seat of the US Embassy in Monrovia) is struggling to release the said findings because it is very unfavorable to the Weah regime and as such it has quietly released the report to the government of Liberia to avoid being accused of bringing it to public disrepute.
But other reports coming from the corridors of the Executive Mansion indicate that the US sponsored investigation has established that all the money -15.5 billion Liberian bank notes which were printed, whether by authorization of the 53rd National Legislature or not were accounted for based on the records of the Central Bank of Liberia or CBL.
However, multiple sources have informed this paper that the investigation has rather taken a new trend, with now the printers of the money being included in the investigation.
Sources told this paper Thursday, January 24, 2019 that though the actual disputed amount has been accounted for on records, but other documentation in the hands of investigators have revealed that the money was printed in excess. It is yet unclear who authorized the printing of the excess money, the sources said.
According to our source, the company hired to print the 15.5 bn bank notes, Crane Currency is now at the center of the new front of the investigation-with former CBL Governor J. Milton Weeks still hanging on the hook.
The major question which remain unanswered is if indeed money was not missing from the 15.5 bn printed and delivered at the CBL, again according to their record, then where was the excess amount diverted and who order it and for what.
Usually, printers would print documents in excess to make up for shortages or spoilage during printing to enable them meet clients’ target. Now if Crane Currency argues that it applies the same rule in the printing to the Liberian bank notes, then it raises more questions as to why officials at the CBL did not capture the excess amount in their report. “Could this be the money that was diverted which raised the alarm about the missing money?” one source queried as he explains.
There are fears that many officials of the CBL both past and present are still not off the hook yet, even if they proved by documentation that their records show that the entire 15.5 bn were printed and deliver, there is still an unaccounted excess and this could trigger the rolling of several heads.
It could be recalled that in the midst of the ongoing investigation by the Government of Liberia into the missing billions of Liberian banknotes, the CBL had argued that there was no 16 billion Liberian Dollars missing
The probe saw several employees of the CBL called in for questioning, including former executive governor J. Milton Weeks and incumbent deputy governor Charles Sirleaf.
“The Central Bank of Liberia wants to clarify to the general public and our partners in progress that there is no 16 billion Liberian Dollars missing as has been erroneously reported in the media,” the CBL saids in a press statement Tuesday, 2 October.
The CBL’s statement came just after President Weah on 1 October ruled out any possibility of money being missing under his regime, ahead of findings from an independent investigation for which the government says it was inviting international reputable institutions to help with investigation.
Instead, President Weah said if any money went missing as reported, it may be during the regime of his predecessor, former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf.
According to the CBL, its records show that the total money that was printed and placed in its reserve vaults was L$15.5 billion for the period of 2016 to 2018.
By Othello B. Garblah