Ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the first time here denies reports in the media that she told investigators that at 80, she is too old to remember anything, particularly issues about the alleged missing 15.5 billion Liberian banknotes.
The HOT PEPPER newspaper, one of the dailies in Monrovia ran two stories on its frontpage last week, quoting former President Sirleaf as saying at 80 years, she is “too old to remember things.”
Madam Sirleaf officially turned 80 on Monday, October 29, 2018 and held a quiet celebration at her private residence opposite James Spriggs Payne Airfield in Monrovia attended by family members, friends, former and current officials. President George Manneh Weah accompanied by Finance Minister Sameul Tweah, and other members of his cabinet, briefly graced the occasion.
Speaking Monday with BBC Stringer Jonathan Paye-layleh, Madam Sirleaf responds that anybody who made such assertion needs to go and look at themselves, adding, “Do I look like somebody to say I am 80 years and I can’t remember; Come on. You got a foolish paper here that’s always doing sensational things and those sensational things are not true.”
The former President maintains that there is absolutely no fact to that. “I’m very strong; my mind is functioning well, and so that’s strictly propaganda and nobody should listen to that”, she adds.However, Madam Sirleaf confirms some investigators met with her. “And I told them everything I do, every decision I have made, every action I have taken, is not by word of mouth; it’s by paper; it’s by document. Anybody wants to know anything I have done, please go to the records of the Ministry of State, it’s written there, and they will (provide) full clarification on anything, because I don’t just talk, I write anything I do, and so go and read the records.”
A government investigative team is probing circumstances surrounding the alleged missing money with several high profile personalities being interrogated, including former executive governor of the Central Bank of Liberia J. Milton Weeks. Madam Sirleaf’s own son at the CBL Charles Sirleaf, was also called in for questioning, but subsequently left off the hook.
At the same time, the United States Embassy near Monrovia recently announced through USAID that it has reached out to independent, internationally recognized firms with specialization in forensic investigations to conduct a scoping mission that could ascertain the basic facts surrounding the alleged missing currency.
The report in the media followed the alleged disappearance of Liberian banknotes, totally about 15.5 billion that were printed abroad and brought into the country. The government thru the Ministry of Justice confirmed ongoing investigation “surrounding the arrival of containers and bags of moneys into the country, by and thru the Freeport of Monrovia and the Roberts International Airport, and that initial findings indicate that the containers and bags of moneys allegedly arrived between November 2017, prior to the inauguration of the current Government, and August 2018” after the inception of the Weah administration.
However, the current Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia Nathaniel Patray, says no money is missing. “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 has no records showing that monies printed and under its authority have not yet been delivered into its reserve vaults. Records from Crane Currency of Sweden, which was contracted to print the money, show that Crane delivered L$15.5 billion through the Freeport of Monrovia and the Roberts International Airport between 2016 and 2018, and that all these monies were logged by the CBL and delivered into the reserve vaults of the CBL”, Governor Patray maintains.
My mind is functioning well–Story by Jonathan Browne