By Lewis S. Teh
The Presidential Investigative Team (PIT) setup by President George Manneh Weah says Crane Currency AB of Sweden and the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) conspired in printing 18 billion Liberian dollars instead of 15 billion to defraud the Liberian government.
The local investigative report released Thursday, 28 February at the Ministry of Information in Monrovia comes while external investigators hired by USAID also release their findings from separate investigation conducted surrounding Liberia’s alleged missing 16 billion local currency.
The CBL reported 15,606,000,000 (15.6bn) Liberian dollars banknotes as the total amount printed, shipped by Crane Currency AB and it (CBL) received the money between July 2016 and April 2018.
But the head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and member of the PIT Mr. Alex Cuffey says analysis of the packing list submitted by the CBL reveals that the amount of 18,151,000,000 (18.1bn) Liberian dollar banknotes were printed and shipped by Crane Currency.
According to Mr. Cuffey, this leaves a variance of 2,645,000,000 (L$2.6bn) Liberian dollar banknotes that is yet to be fully accounted for by the CBL.
Releasing the summary report before a huge crowd of local and international journalists, Mr. Cuffy says Crane Currency AB of Sweden knowingly and willfully conspired with CBL officials to defraud the government here.
He says CBL contracted Crane Currency to print the total of L$15bn at the total cost of US$15,331,689.20 in violation of the laws of Liberia.
The PIT accuses Crane Currency AB of Sweden of allegedly ignoring the terms and conditions of the contract by printing L$18,151,000,000, rather than the L$15bn that was needed to be printed.
Mr. Cuffey says the company’s action is in complete breach of the contract, and caused the Liberian government to incur extra cost of US$835,367.72.
Further, Mr. Cuffy narrates that several middle level personnel of the CBL were found in violation of the laws of Liberia in the discharge of their duties.
Regarding the CBL personnel’s violation of the laws, Mr. Cuffey cites ensuring full receipt and accountability of the total and actual amount of Liberian dollars banknotes printed and received by the CBL.
He says they knowingly conspired with the former senior management executive and the current senior management executive of the CBL to conceal the true nature of the total and actual amount of Liberian dollars banknotes printed and received by the CBL.
Additionally, Mr. Cuffey says the CBL personnel criminally doctored and fixed reports, understanding the full and actual amount printed and received by the CBL.
According to the FIU Chief, as of October 16, 2018, the Central Bank sold a total of US$14 million in exchange for a total of L$2,151,363,898.00 between the period of July 17, 2018 and September 18, 2018.
Cuffy points out that the Technical Economic Management Team did not have a clear strategy, and the Central Bank deviated from conventional best practice which calls for the use of legitimate banking institutions, commercial banks and licensed foreign exchange bureau or sale auction.
He indicates that given the many discrepancies as to the total and actual amount of the Liberian dollar banknotes printed, shipped and received by the CBL …, the PIT strongly recommends the demonetization of the current Liberian dollar banknotes new and legacy.
According to Mr. Cuffey, doubts were created as to the total amount in circulation, as well as as the negative impact that the discrepancies are having on the economy.–Edited by Winston W. Parley