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Defendant detaches CBL Board from Milton Weeks

-Over LD$10bn contract

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Former Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Board member defendantKollie S. Tamba seems to detach himself and other former CBL board members from the LD$10 billion contract that led to their indictment, saying the execution and signing of contract is straightly within the [purview] of the Chief Executive Officer.

While telling prosecutors Wednesday, 12 August that he is interested in his own defense in the case, defendant Tamba explained that at this point in time the knowledge and information he has … he did not have it then.

“To the best of my knowledge and as I testified previously, the execution and signing of contract is straightly within the [purview] of the Chief Executive Officer. I do not have further detail as to when or what date the contract was signed,” defendant Tamba testifies.

“As a co-defendant in this case and being interested in my own defense, all of the documentations submitted as evidence are read. At this point in time, the knowledge and information I have or certain event, I did not have at that time,” he adds.

He gave the responses when prosecutors asked him to say whether the CBL’s Board of Governor authorized the Executive Governor to print the LD$10 billion prior to the consummation of the contract between the CBL and Crane Currency or after the contract date.

Earlier on Tuesday, 11 August, defendant Tamba denied prosecution’s accusation that he and other CBL Board members passed a resolution authorizing the CBL to print currency and introduce coins without the full consent of the Legislature.

Defendant Tamba is on trial along with CBL former Executive Governor Milton A. Weeks, former CBL board members David Fahart and Elsie DossenBardio for theft of property; economic sabotage; fraud on the internal revenue of Liberia; misuse of public money, property or record; theft or illegal disbursement of public money; criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation.

Tamba said he is unaware whether the CBL adhered to a provision in the Legislature’s letter mandating the bank to furnish it (Legislature) with appropriate details prior to printing and minting of coins.

“To the best of my knowledge, I am unaware whether the provision of that document that you referred to was adhered to,” he told prosecution Tuesday, 11 August in response to a question if the CBL ever reverted to the Legislature with the appropriate details of the volumen and denomination of the replacing banknotes prior to printing the LD$10 billion.

According to Tamba, the “Board of Governors was read” a document signed by the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of the Senate that indicated … that the Plenary of both houses in session directed that they communicate the decision of the joint session to the CBL.

Tamba insists that the understanding of the Board of Governors is that the letter could not have been in reference to the previously printed LD$5 billion because prior to the transmission of the letter to the CBL, numerous meetings had been held with the Legislature.

“It was, therefore, impossible for the legislature to believe that 5 billion dollars that had been previously imported about two years previously was sufficient to replace completely all of the banknotes; 5 billion dollars just could not do it, and we believe that the legislature fully understood that,” he explains.

“May I repeat that our understanding of the document of July 19, 2017 … provided sufficient authorization to the central bank. Every member of the Board of Governors was fully aware that legislative approval was required in order to replace sufficiently all the legacy banknotes,” he testifies.

He testifies that the last paragraph in the letter indicated that the House had issued full and legal authorization to the Central Bank to effect the decision made in both houses.

According to defendant KollieTamba, the members of the Board of Governors “understood this document to be full authorization to the Central Bank to proceed with replacing completely all legacy currencies.”

“The Board not being a lawyer also received a Draft of the referenced Resolution. In that draft and we as members of the Board of Directors, believed as certified all legal requirement,” he says.

The government indicted the officials for allegedly printing and shipping to Liberia L$13,004,750,000.00 without authorization between 2016 and 2018 and allegedly understating the printed amount as L$10,359,750,000.00, giving a variance of L$2,645,000,000.00.

The four defendants on trial have pleaded not guilty for the charges levied against them, but the fifth defendant Melisa A. Emeh is said to be out of the bailiwick of Liberia and has not been brought to court.

The son of former President Sirleaf Mr. Charles Sirleaf was included in the previous two indictments for this same case, but prosecutors did not include him in this third indictment after they nolleprosequi the former Deputy CBL Governor for Operations with prejudice in May this year.

Besides Mr. Sirleaf, the prosecution here also entered a nolleprosequi (dropped charges) in favor of defendants Richard H. Walker, Dorbor M. Hagba and Joseph Dennis.

By Winston W. Parley

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