Four collaborating opposition political parties here are requesting President George Manneh Weah to immediately order the arrests of Finance Minister Samuel Tweah and Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Executive Governor Nathaniel Patray in relations to a US$25m mop-up exercise and some alleged missing billions.
The call by the former ruling Unity Party, Liberty Party, the Alternative National Congress and the All Liberian Party on Wednesday, 6 March comes as prosecutors here have indicted and jailed five top officials inclusive of Mr. Charles E. Sirleaf, son of former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf.
The four collaborating opposition parties are seeking Minister Tweah and CBL Chief Patray’s arrests because President Weah’s Presidential Investigative Team (PIT) has reported that the infusion of US$25m into the Liberian economy to mop-up excess liquidity was full of many discrepancies.
Between Monday and Tuesday, 4 to 5 March, prosecutors here incarcerated CBL’s Deputy Governor Mr. Sirleaf, former Executive Governor Milton Weeks, CBL Director of Banking Dorbor Hagba, Director for Operations Richard H. Walker and the Deputy Director for Internal Audit Joseph Dennis upon their failures to secure criminal appearance bonds in billions of Liberian Dollars.
They have been indicted for multiple charges including economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation following their arrests for their alleged roles in the “missing 16 billion” Liberian banknotes case.
The indicted officials are expected to give account of an excess amount of 2,645, 000,000 which is yet to be fully accounted for.
Reading a joint statement Wednesday morning, 6 March at the ALP headquarters on the Old Road, Sinkor, ALP national chairman Mr. Theodore Momoh says the four collaborating political parties demand that in addition to the arrests already made, government should move quickly to arrest Mr. Tweah, Mr. Patray and other ranking members of the Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT).
“This is in consideration of the investigations’ findings pointing to the conspicuously criminal way the Minister of Finance and Development Planning and the Central Bank Governor, as Chair and Co-Chair of the Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT) respectively, managed the US$25m … so-called mop-up exercise of 2018,” Chairman Momoh says.
Momoh says both Minister Tweah and Governor Patray misled Liberians in 2018 by telling the public that “no money was missing”.
The collaborating opposition parties say this action by the two officials created confusion last year and it may have been a calculated ploy to conceal the fact that billions of Liberian dollars printed and shipped between January 2016 and August 2018 had either disappeared from the CBL or may not have been delivered to the Bank.
According to Mr. Momoh, they appreciate that the government has moved to arrest Mr. Weeks, Mr. Sirleaf and Hagba.
“We welcome this move. But because of the gravity of this matter and the extent to which some senior members of this administration were involved in what is undoubtedly the biggest financial scandal in Liberia, this action is still grossly inadequate,” Mr. Momoh adds.
They collaborating parties urge President Weah to avoid the temptation to shield officials of his administration mentioned in the reports as having contributed to the messy monetary situation in the country while at the same time pursuing former officials for criminal prosecution.
The parties maintain that the two reports are unambiguous about the roles played by the current CBL administration which did not fully cooperate with both Kroll Associates, Inc. and the Government-commissioned Presidential Investigative Team.
He accuses President Weah’s government of being liable for the US$25m intended to mop-up excess liquidity, which they estimate to be about LD$4,000,000,000, as clearly accentuated in the report.
The parties deem it a gross misrepresentation and a deliberate attempt to undermine justice and misinform the people of Liberia, when the President declared upon his return from Israel, that his government has been vindicated by the PIT and the Kroll Inc. reports.
“How can President Weah tell the world that his government is vindicated when the current Deputy Governor and other current executives of the Central Bank of Liberia are being prosecuted for misuse of public funds and economic sabotage and when the two investigative reports speak to gross inadequacy of internal controls and systems at the CBL?” the opposition alarm.
They further argue that the reports clearly point to fraudulent and suspicious actions and inactions of current fiscal and monetary authorities.
Mr. Momoh laments that it is provocative for President Weah and his administration to ignore the fact that US$25m ordered from the national reserve to facilitate a so-called “mop-up” exercise last year was handled in a bizarre and criminal manner.
The opposition parties believe strongly that the senior members of President Weah’s Economic Management Team, as revealed in the reports, designed, directed and must have exploited last year’s monetary situation to commit the crime of money laundering.
Citing the PIT report, Mr. Momoh concludes that the Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT) and CBL under the leadership and direction of both Tweah and Patray failed to set standard criteria for the participation of businesses in terms of their legitimacy.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor –Edited by Winston W. Parley