Former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s son and Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Deputy Governor Charles E. Sirleaf has been rearrested and jailed along with several other CBL officials including former CBL Executive Governor Milton A. Weeks for alleged money laundering.
Defendants Sirleaf, Weeks, Dorbor M. Hagba, Richard H. Walker and Joseph Dennis are being prosecuted for alleged economic sabotage on account of their alleged roles in the missing $16 billion Liberian Bank note scandal.During the time that prosecution claims the crime occurred, Mr. DorborHagba worked as CBL’s Director of Finance Department; Richard Walker as Director for Operations; and Joseph Dennis as Deputy Director for Internal Audit.
The defendants were rearrested Tuesday, 20 August for money laundering at the Temple of Justice where they accused had gone for a hearing of the economic sabotage case.Their rearrest order was issued on Monday, 19 August based upon an indictment prepared against them by the grand jury for Montserrado County to answer to the charge of money laundering.
Later in the day on Tuesday, 20 August, there were suggestions in some quarters that efforts were being made to release Charles Sirleaf from detention over his health condition, but this could not be immediately verified.
According to the indictment filed before Criminal Court “C” on 19 August, between April 2016 up to August 2018, the five defendants allegedly deliberately colluded and conspired with a wicked intent to launder money and sabotage the Liberian economy.
In the alleged scheme, the accused allegedly defrauded the CBL and the government when they printed excess Liberian dollar bank notes amounting to LRD$2,645,000,000 to infuse it into the Liberian market without authorization.According to the indictment, the defendants deliberately launder the money to the detriment of the Liberian economy and paid US$835,367.72 to printing firm co-defendant Crane Currency for the printing of the LRD$2,645,000,000.
Meanwhile, the Criminal Court “C” presided over by Judge A. Blamo Dixon expresses observation that Crane Currency AB, SE-14782 of Tumba, Sweden had not been brought under the court’s jurisdiction.The judge advises the prosecution to invoke the appropriate law to that effect.
The indictment indicates that based publication by a local daily that a container carrying Liberian dollar banknotes destined for CBL had gone missing, there were public outcry and several street demonstrations.US funded Kroll Associates and President George MannehWeah’s Presidential Investigative Team (PIT) conducted separate investigations in this case.
According to the indictment, from PIT and Kroll’s investigations, it was established that on 17 May 2016 , acting CBL Executive Governor Mr. Sirleaf made a request through his mother former President Johnson – Sirleaf to the Legislature to print LRD$5,000,000,000 to replace mutilated legacy notes.The indictment says both the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate through joint resolutions granted approval to the CBL.A contract was executed with co-defendant Crane Currency for the amount of US$5,210,000 for the purpose of printing LRD$5,000,000,000.
However, the indictment says co-defendant Sirleaf had earlier executed and entered into a contract with co-defendant Crane Currency on 6 May 2016 11 days before the approval by the Legislature was obtained.The indictment asserts that this shows that Mr. Sirleaf had taken the decision without any legislative approval.The defendants are accused of printing $5,146,250,000 new Liberian dollar banknotes, 146,250,000 in excess of the approved amount.
While the contract amount for the printing of the 5,000,000,000 Liberian dollar banknotes was US$5,210,000, the indictment adds that co-defendants Weeks, Sirleaf, Hagba, Walker and Dennis allegedly paid to Crane Currency the amount of US$5,611,469.58, an excess of US$401,469.58.The indictment details that there was no signed letters for the extra Liberian dollar banknotes printed as provided for in the contract.By Winston W. Parley