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Politics News

Gov’t suspends Weeks’trial

Liberian prosecutors say they are currently in conversation with indicted former Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Executive Governor Milton Weeks to find a common ground in resolving his trial for his alleged role in Liberia’s LRD$16 billion scandal, thereby asking the Criminal Court “C” to suspend the trial for three weeks.

“Movant submits that the burden of providing the indictment drawn against the within named respondent rests on the Movant and where both the Movant and Respondent are endearing to find a common ground on the way forward in resolving the matter to save time, energy and resources, it is proper for an application of this sort to be made so that the parties can have ample time to discuss and reach a peaceful agreement before proceeding,” the State’s motion filed Monday, 25 May reads.

The State argues that the practice and procedure in this jurisdiction instruct that where the parties at their own volition have initiated the process of opening windows of opportunity to hear each other’s concerns and advance suggestions on how to resolve a triable issue gear at finding an amicable solution …, a motion for continuance is the proper remedy at law to invoke.

The prosecution notes that its request for continuance is not made in bad faith, nor is it intended to baffle or prolong the proceedings, requesting the court to grant them further relief as the court deem just and equitable in the proceedings.

Mr. Weeks has remained the lone defendant in the LRD$16 billion economic sabotage trial after prosecutors nolleprosequi (drop charges against) his alleged accomplices including former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s son Charles E. Sirleaf, DorborHagba, Richard Walker and Joseph Dennis while challenged a previous decision at the Supreme Court.

Due to the prosecution’s move, the court on Tuesday, 19 May quashed and dismissed a writ of ne exeatrepublica used by prosecutors to prevent the four CBL officials from leaving Liberia in granting government’s request to drop charges against them. But what happened to the $16 billion local currency which prompted the defendants’ indictment still remains a mystery.

Having seen his compatriots walk as free men, Mr. Weeks, who initially had a matter pending before the Supreme Court from the same case, withdrew his appeal from the high court, which then ordered Court “C” to commence the trial.

At the commencement of the case Monday, 25 May, the prosecution informed Court “C” Judge YamiQuiquiGbeisay that in the last few days, there are strong indicators that suggestions geared at mitigating the charges and finding a way forward in dealing with other issues are quite ripe and incredibly probable, thus requesting for continuance of the proceedings.

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Mr. Weeks and four other defendants were all indicted on 4 March 2019 for economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy, criminal solicitation and money laundering for their alleged roles in Liberia’s alleged LD$16bn scandal that rocked the country throughout 2018 and sparked local and international investigation following protests here.

The Court in August last year ordered the officials and their former boss, Mr. Weeks to file LD$1,058,000,000 bonds each, which when combined totaled LD$5,290,000,000 after a new indictment for money laundering had been added to the previous charges.

At the request of the Government of Liberia, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) issued a tender to contract independent forensic investigation firm Kroll Associates to conduct a scoping report engagement to ascertain the basic facts of the alleged disappearance of the new banknotes, and to determine to what extent a broader investigation would be required into the matter to help achieve a clearer understanding of the currency situation.

Kroll’s independent review of the situation was in part prompted by Liberian and international media reports covering the alleged disappearance of the new banknotes, which included allegations that a container of new banknotes shipped by Crane AB to Liberia and subsequently delivered from either the Freeport of Liberia or Roberts International Airport to the CBL was missing.

It reported that the actual value of new banknotes printed by Crane AB to Liberia totaled LRD 15.506 billion, therefore new banknotes totaling LRD 0.506 billion were printed by Crane AB above the initial contractual amount of LRD 15.0 billion.

Of the new banknotes printed and shipped by Crane AB totaling LRD 15.506 billion, Kroll said the CBL had injected new banknotes totaling LRD 10.146 billion into the Liberian economy without removing from circulation (and destroying) the equivalent quantity/value of legacy banknotes.
By Winston W. Parley

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