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No authorization given to print LD$10bn

--Former Speaker Nuquaye testifies

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Former House Speaker Mr. Emmanuel Nuquaye, now Director General at the Liberia Aviation Authority (LAA), testifies that no authorization was given the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to print additional LD$10 billion.

“As we have clearly established and can be seen by the letter written to the CBL, no authorization was given in the form of a letter to even create a ground for an argument as to the mode of authorization whether through letter or resolution,” he said as State – subpoenaed witness Thursday, 16 July.

The government here indicted several CBL officials including the bank’s Board of Governors, accusing them of printing and shipping to Liberia L$13,004,750,000.00 without authorization, and allegedly understating the printed amount as L$10,359,750,000.00, giving a variance of L$2,645,000,000.00.

All the defendants on trial including of former CBL Executive Governor Milton A. Weeks, David Fahart, Elsie Dossen Bardio and Kollie Tamba have pleaded not guilty for charges of 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.

Mr. Nuquaye who served as Speaker of the House of Representatives from October 2016 to January 2018 testifies that the House of Representatives did not sign any Joint Resolution to print $10 billion Liberian Dollars, adding that there is no such resolution.

“I have no knowledge about the printing of the 10billion Liberian Dollars banknotes,” former Speaker Nuquaye testifies. Mr. Nuquaye, a 2017 vice presidential candidate on a ticket with former ruling Unity Party (UP) presidential candidate Joseph Nyumah Boakai, says he has no information absolutely on the printing of LD $10 Billion by the Central Bank.

He says what he knows is that members of the House of Representatives raised issues about mutilated money on the market after the bank, with the full authorization through a [Legislative] Joint Resolution, had printed and brought into the country LD$5 billion to be infused in the market to replace mutilated banknotes.

Additionally, he says the Legislature sent a communication to the CBL, instructing it to introduce coins of lower denominations on the Liberian market based on information provided by former CBL Executive Governor Dr. Mills Jones that minted coins were sitting in the vault of the CBL.

“To the best of my certain knowledge, there is no paragraph or provision in that communication that authorized the CBL to print 10billion Liberian Dollars,” witness Nuquaye continues.

“NO. The paragraph did not authorize the printing of additional banknotes. If the Legislature contemplated the printing of additional banknotes, it would have … used the word “print” instead of “introduce,” Mr. Nuquaye argues.

He explains that the word “introduce” as used in paragraph three was intended for the CBL to infuse into the economy coins that were printed and are being kept, adding: “and even as we speak being kept in the vault of the CBL.”

The CBL officials were indicted for the alleged theft of billions of local currency printed and shipped to Liberia following a series of mass protests that prompted local and international investigation into claims that the money went missing.

The fifth defendant Melisa A. Emeh is said to be out of the bailiwick of Liberia and has not been brought to court, therefore the court has granted prosecution’s request to grant her a separate trial so as to enable the four other defendants that are available to get speedy trial This third indictment in the case did not include former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s son Charles E. Sirleaf who served as Deputy CBL Governor for Operations when the financial scandal emerged at the bank, because he was nolleprosequi 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

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