The Ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has added a dramatic twist to the ongoing missing 15 billion Liberian Dollar bank notes, an equivalent of USD104 million, by calling for the investigation of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who has repeatedly denied that the disappearance of the containers happened under her watch.
CDC’s National Chairman Mulbah Morlu on Saturday joined River Gee County District #3 Representative Francis S. Dopoh calling for an immediate investigation of ex-President Sirleaf in the wake of the alleged missing containers full of money.
Speaking at CDC headquarters Saturday, 22 September, Mr. Morlu says the former president should be investigated in connection to the alleged disappearance of over 15 billion Liberian Dollars believed to have been printed during her administration.
Mr. Morlu claims that Mrs. Sirleaf shares greater responsibility of the missing billions, arguing that the CDC- led government has no link to the scandal.
The alleged missing billions were printed and brought into Liberia during Mrs. Sirleaf’s administration in November 2017, but they allegedly exited the Freeport of Monrovia in containers and disappeared between March and April 2018 during the CDC – led administration.
At one point President George Manneh Weah’s administration says the disappearance of the money was uncovered in August 2018.
But Finance Minister Samuel Tweah in a fury said there was no container of money missing, a statement which has been echoed by ex-President Sirleaf in an interview with a local BBC correspondent.
President Sirleaf has told the BBC’s Focus on Africa on Friday that though she is not aware of what the current administration has been involved with, she is certain that no money printed during her administration ever got missing.
According to the ex-president, all moneys printed were properly accounted for.
The explanations by former President Sirleaf, the former Central Bank Governor Milton Weeks and Finance Minister Tweah have raised more eyebrows about the circumstances surrounding the alleged missing money.
Government last week announced that it had asked the United States Government to help with the investigation by requesting the services of the FBI and US Treasury Department as well as the IMF among other reputable international organizations.
Morlu says President Weah stands committed to bring individuals connected to the money to face justice.
“Our president has spoken … he has told us to remain patient and wait for the ongoing investigation. So let us wait for the country giant for the fight against corruption,” Morlu says.
Morlu believes that the former president cannot escape the blame, saying Mrs. Sirleaf didn’t leave any report or turnover note with respect to the money in question.
Morlu further alleges that former Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Governor Milton Weeks said the bank could not disclose the arrival of the printed billions to the president because the CBL is an autonomous entity.
To this end, he says ex- governor Weeks and his deputy Charles Sirleaf, (Son of ex-president Sirleaf) should be thoroughly investigated due to their roles at the bank.
In a related development, Morlu is casting blame at opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC) political leader Alexander Cummings, accusing him of sponsoring a plan demonstration seeking to compel those responsible to “Bring back our money.”
Morlu therefore discourages the citizenry not to adhere to such call from the opposition, but to rather wait for the outcome of the investigation.
Meanwhile, River Gee County District #3 Representative Francis S. Dopoh insists that former President be called to the Legislature to answer to some questions surrounding the alleged missing money.
In an interview Friday, 21 September, Rep. Dopoh cited alleged violation of Article 34 of the Constitution.
Article 34 (d) of the Constitution among other things gives the Legislature the authority to levy taxes …, to borrow money, issue currency, mint coins and to make appropriations for the fiscal governance of the Republic.
According to Rep. Dopoh, the fact that money was printed and it was not fully accounted for to the House of Representatives as to how much was printed, it is important for the House to step in to bring to book those involved in this matter.
Rep. Dopoh is calling on President Weah to immediately act in the alleged missing billions Liberian dollars issue.
He says what is going on here is one of the easiest things for President Weah to deal with.
He believes that all President Weah needs to do is to take some strong actions and it does not stop him from going to the UN General Assembly in New York.
Mr. Weah has already departed Liberia for the UN General Assembly, urging Liberians to remain calm as anyone caught in any financial malfeasance will be held accountable.
Rep. Dopoh argues that it is the right of those that want to protest to do so once it is peaceful.
Rep. Dopoh strongly expresses disagreement with the president when it comes to appointing a committee [to look into this case] due to claims that government has not yet established anything yet to the public.
“So what [is] the committee going to investigate? Missing money or they’re going to investigate money that are not accounted for?” he wonders.
Rep. Dopoh continues that it is the House’s oversight responsibility to call the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) and ask what happened.
The lawmaker says he doesn’t see why government is calling on the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to probe the matter.
Dopoh suggests that if money is missing, police and other state securities here and the CBL and all its senior officers should be held to account.
He concludes that the Central Bank needs to be clear if money was not missing but rather put in circulation in the market.
This matter has seen both ruling party supporters and oppositions demanding those who might be responsible for the money to be brought to justice.
By E.J. Nathaniel Daygbor and By Bridgett Milton–Edited by Winston W. Parley, additional editing by Othello B. Garblah