How far is the missing “16 bn” probe?

There appears to be a deafening silence as it relates to updates on the ongoing probe surrounding the “missing” 15.5 billion Liberian bank notes.Last week, former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf admitted that she had been visited by some of the investigators but she did not say which group. Mrs. Sirleaf comment only came about as she denies media reports allegedly quoting her as saying she is too old to remember anything about the 15.5 billion. The former president just celebrated her 80th birthday on Monday October 29.

She did not say in her denial when she was visited by the investigators. But this still doesn’t help in providing an update on the investigation into the country’s biggest scandal.The prolong silence over the present status of the much trumpeted investigations sanctioned by the George Weah led government and the independent investigators announced by the US Embassy here is raising eyebrows among the general public with many speculating that the case is dying a natural death just like other probes ordered before it in Liberian style.

Efforts to get Information Minister Eugene Nagbe to provide the latest update on the ongoing probe proved futile on Sunday as his mobile number rang endlessly unanswered.
The press and public affairs officer at the Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Maud Somah told this paper on Sunday night that there is yet no update on the investigation.

So far, Government has cleared all Central Bank of Liberia’s (CBL) staffs from its lists of persons of interest and travel ban, leaving on it former CBL Governor Milton Weeks.The removal of the names of CBL’s employees from the lists of persons of interest and travel ban came a fortnight following reports of the arrival of an advance team of independent investigators spotted at the Capitol Building sometimes last month.

The United States Aid for International Development or USAID, nearly four weeks ago announced that it had reached an agreement with the Liberian Government to provide independent investigators from reputable firms to look into the missing money saga.The independent investigative team are expected to carry on a scooping mission and expand into full scale investigation depending on their findings.

The USAID and the Liberian Government agreed that whatever findings established by the team will be made public.Despite reports indicating that an advance team of independent investigators were spotted at the Capitol a fortnight ago holding brief meetings with key individuals at the Legislature, not much have been heard.

As if that is not enough, the Liberian public is yet to be told as to what is the status of the team of local investigators since the Minister of Finance, Planning and Development was quoted to have said that it did not have money to fund the local team of investigators.

But there also appears to be another problem, despite not being funded, sources closed to the local team of investigators say the team is also finding it very difficult to access the needed documents it has requested from the relevant agencies of government-simply put, sources say there appears to be an uncooperative posture from agents of government.

All these development came days after the Governor of the CBL, Mr. Nathaniel Patray announced on October 2, 2018 that there was no money missing at the bank.

“The Central Bank of Liberia wants to clarify to the general public and our partners in progress that there is no 16 billion Liberian Dollars missing as has been erroneously reported in the media,” the CBL said in a press statement Tuesday, 2 October.

But as government remain thigh-lipped on the probe, it only spur speculation among the public about its attempt to hide the truth concerning what actually happen to the “missing” 15.5 billion Liberian bank notes.

-writes Othello B. Garblah

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