Liberia drops charges against Crane Currency
On the request of Liberian prosecutors, the Criminal Court “C” in Monrovia has dropped all charges against Crane Currency, AB, the company that printed billions of Liberian dollars which brought down several officials here into an alleged corruption scandal.
“Notwithstanding, since the Movant requested court to drop charges against the Respondent on grounds that it does not intend to prosecute the respondent, the said motion is hereby granted, dismissed and the indictment also ordered dismissed,” presiding Judge Nancy F. Sammy ruled Monday, 20 January.
Crane Currency was indicted by Liberian prosecutors along with former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s son and Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Deputy Governor Charles E. Sirleaf, former CBL Executive Governor Milton A. Weeks and several other CBL officials for alleged money laundering.
The Liberian officials including defendants Sirleaf, Weeks, Dorbor M. Hagba, Richard H. Walker and Joseph Dennis have been facing prosecution for alleged economic sabotage on account of their alleged roles in the missing $16 billion Liberian Bank notes scandal.
In September 2019, Judge A. Blamo Dixon recused himself from the trial of the case for reason best known to him, which led the cause to come to a pause. The court is now presided over by Judge Nancy F. Sammy.
Though prosecutors here indicted the money printing company Crane Currency AB, SE-14782 of Tumba, Sweden, they did not bring the company under the court’s jurisdiction for the trial of the case, except for the Liberian officials.
According to the indictment, the defendants deliberately launder money to the detriment of the Liberian economy and paid US$835,367.72 to printing firm co-defendant Crane Currency for the printing of LRD$2,645,000,000.
They accused allegedly defrauded the CBL and the government when they printed excess Liberian dollar bank notes amounting to LRD$2,645,000,000 to infuse it into the Liberian market without authorization.
During the time that prosecution claims the crime occurred, Mr. Dorbor Hagba worked as CBL’s Director of Finance Department; Richard Walker as Director for Operations; and Joseph Dennis as Deputy Director for Internal Audit.
While being prosecuted, the defendants were rearrested on 20 August 2019 for money laundering, based on allegation that between April 2016 and up to August 2018, the five defendants allegedly deliberately colluded and conspired with a wicked intent to launder money and sabotage the Liberian economy.
US funded Kroll Associates and President George Manneh Weah’s Presidential Investigative Team (PIT) conducted separate investigations in this case.
According to the indictment, from PIT and Kroll’s investigations, it was established that on 17 May 2016, acting CBL Executive Governor Mr. Sirleaf made a request through his mother former President Johnson – Sirleaf to the Legislature to print LRD$5,000,000,000 to replace mutilated legacy notes.
The indictment says both the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate through joint resolutions granted approval to the CBL.A contract was executed with co-defendant Crane Currency for the amount of US$5,210,000 for the purpose of printing LRD$5,000,000,000.
The indictment says co-defendant Sirleaf had earlier executed and entered into a contract with co-defendant Crane Currency on 6 May 2016, 11 days before the approval by the Legislature was obtained.
The indictment asserts that this shows that Mr. Sirleaf had taken the decision without any legislative approval. The defendants are accused of printing $5,146,250,000 new Liberian dollar banknotes, 146,250,000 in excess of the approved amount.
While the contract amount for the printing of the 5,000,000,000 Liberian dollar banknotes was US$5,210,000, the indictment adds that co-defendants Weeks, Sirleaf, Hagba, Walker and Dennis allegedly paid to Crane Currency the amount of US$5,611,469.58, an excess of US$401,469.58.
The indictment details that there was no signed letters for the extra Liberian dollar banknotes printed as provided for in the contract.By Winston W. Parley