The Executive Governor-designate for the Central Bank of Liberia, J. Aloysius Tarlue appears before the Liberian Senate today, Thursday, 5 December for confirmation hearing after his recent nomination to the post.
President George Manneh Weah nominated Mr. Tarlue to the CBL following the retirement of former Executive Governor Nathaniel R. Patray, whose tenure at the Bank was marred by lack of proper account for a controversial US$25 million mop-up of excess liquidities and 16 billion Liberian bank notes printed and brought into country.
If confirmed by the Senate, Tarlue faces a daunting task of stabilizing the economy, which is in shambles, characterized by hyperinflation and severe shortage of cash. The depreciation of the Liberian dollar is hurting sellers and buyers alike amid lingering distrust about plan by the government print new banknotes.
Already, some members of the Senate are contending that Mr. Tarlue does not have a degree in Economics, suggesting that this may disqualify him for the high profile post.
But the International Monetary Fund 2019 report on Liberia and the Kroll Report on the ‘Missing LRD16 billion’ recommended that the head of the Central Bank of Liberia, who is the executive governor, should be person with high level experience in compliance and risk analysis.
The CBL nominee who had worked with several banks in the United States of America, is credited for drafting and updating AML compliance and writing supervisory policies and procedures, as well as assisting in developing a comprehensive cross-business view of AML risk. He had reviewed and approved exceptions, and kept abreast of regulatory developments and enforcement actions to assess the potential impact to JP Morgan Chase.
Ahead of his confirmation hearing, public opinions about the nominee continue to whirl, with critics questioning his qualifications, while others have trumpeted his massive experience from working with several United States-based multilateral financial institutions.
Academically, Tarlue holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Kean University with17 years in quality compliance experience, enforcing standards in a range of global financial institutions.
He worked for J.P. Morgan Chase, from March 2013 up to 2018 as Compliance Officer – Quality Control. There, he provided subject matter expertise on AML/KYC and Sanction requirements to front office, lines of business and operations, and possess in-depth knowledge of BSA/AML Regulations, PATRIOT ACT and OFAC; well versed in AML and Terrorist Financing emerging trends.
Tarlue started off with HSBC Bank NA, serving as compliance officer with compliance policy & procedure team. In this role, he conducted reviews on all new and existing clients, ensured that profiles were in accordance with regulations and HSBC policies and procedures; provided testing and feedback to senior management regarding training and system design, from a Quality Assurance perspective.He conducted quality assurance reviews on New Business KYC profiles, across multiple business lines, ensuring AML Regulations, HSBC policies and procedures are maintained.
In late 2018, President Weah appointed Tarlue as Chairman of the Liberia Electricity Regulatory Commission (LERC)where he oversaw the standing up of the electricity regulator, mobilizing a pool of technicians recruited through a stringent competitive process.
The International Monetary Fund report on Liberia calls for stronger compliance mechanisms for the Central Bank of Liberia which the newly nominee carries with him at the CBL.
The IMF also highlighted that the internal control of the Central Bank of Liberia is weak and need total overhaul.
IMF directors agreed that the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) should tighten monetary policy with the objective of reducing inflation to single digits by 2021, noting that while the financial soundness indicators show that the banking sector in Liberia appears adequately capitalized, the CBL should enhance its supervisory efforts.
They highlighted the need to prioritize strengthening the CBL’s supervisory, regulatory, and resolution frameworks in light of the elevated level of nonperforming loans, focusing on measures that improve loan underwriting standards.
IMF also points that in the context of the development agenda, aggressive efforts should be made to strengthen governance and reduce corruption, advising the authorities here to upgrade their anticorruption and AML/CFT frameworks in line with international standards.
More recently, new risks have emerged in the areas of autonomy, governance, and currency operations.
But the CBL Board continues to operate with acting members without stable appointments, which undermines its autonomy.However, with the nomination of Mr. Tarlue, that new risk should be handled if members of the Liberian Senate give their approval.
Two investigative reports by the Presidential Investigative Team (PIT) and KrollAssociates Inc. on currency operations (released in February 2019) did not find hard evidence of large-scale theft of newly printed banknotes, as had been reported in the local media. However, they did note significant discrepancies and weak controls at all stages of the currency procurement and storage process.By E. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne