Defendant Kollie S. Tamba, one of the four ex-Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Board of Governors on trial says he is unaware as to whether the Bank adhered to the Legislature’s letter mandating it (bank) to furnish that body 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 volume and denomination of the banknotes prior to printing the LD$10 billion.
Testifying at the ongoing hearing at the Criminal Court “C” in Monrovia Tuesday, defendant 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 the LD5 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.
Mr. Tamba denies 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.
According to him, the “Board of Governors 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.
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, 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.
Mr. KollieTamba says, he began working with the Central Bank of Liberia when it was known at the time as the National Bank in 1988, holding a position of Assistant Manager in the Foreign Exchange Section.
His final position with the CBL was Senior Advisor for Multilateral Religion and Special Project and Head of the Microfinance Unit before he retired in 2013 during former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s administration.
After that Mr. Tamba says, in 2016 he was again contracted by the CBL to serve as Provisional Administrator at the First United American Bank which is now the GN – Bank. He says in May that same year, he was also appointed to the Board of Governors for a two-year’s tenure that ended in May 2018.
Defendant Tamba is standing trial alongside several former officials including former CBL Executive Governor Milton A. Weeks, 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.
The government indicted the ex-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 to 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-Edited by Othello B. Garblah