The son of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Charles Sirleaf and former Central Bank Governor, Milton A. Weeks have been released on bail.
Both Mr. Sirleaf and Mr. Weeks were granted bail by the criminal Court “C” Judge Boimah
Kontoe on Friday March 8, after the men filed their criminal appearance bond.
Conditions set for their release require that Mr. Sirleaf and Mr. Weeks will not travel outside of Montserrado County without the court’s approval. They will submit all their travel documents to the Sheriff of Court “C” and report to the court twice each month.
Following two investigative reports here, Mr. Sirleaf, a Deputy Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Governor for Operations; Mr. Weeks, former CBL Executive Governor; Mr. Dorbor Hagba, CBL Director for Banking; Mr. Richard H. Walker, Director for Operations and Mr. Joseph Dennis, Deputy Director for Internal Audit were arrested, indicted and jailed for their alleged roles in Liberia’s alleged “missing” 16 billion Liberian bank note scandal.
Upon Mr. Sirleaf and Mr. Weeks’ release Friday on bail, Judge Boima Kontoe says only the two defendants had posted their bonds before the court, which means the rest of the three defendants in persons of Mr. Hagba, Mr. Walker and Mr. Dennis remained in detention.
According to Judge Kontoe, the Court granted Mr. Sirleaf and Mr. Weeks’ bonds on condition that they cannot leave Montserrado County without leave of court. Further they are required to report to the Sheriff of Court “C” twice every month.
Additionally, the third condition for their bonds is that they will submit all their travel documents to the sheriff.
The Presidential Investigative Team (PIT) set up by President George Manneh Weah finds that the CBL reported receiving a total of LRD$15,506,000,000 from its contracted firm Crane Currency AB, but analysis of the packing list submitted by the CBL to PIT actually reveals that 18,151,000,000 was printed and shipped by the firm.
The indicted officials are expected to give account for an excess amount of LRD$2,645, 000,000, which is yet to be fully accounted for.
This suggests that each of the defendants are expected to submit bonds in billions of Liberian dollars.
They have been indicted for multiple charges, including economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation following their arrests for their alleged roles in the billions of Liberian dollars scandal.
However, Judge Kontoe declines to state the value of each of the bonds tendered by Mr. Sirleaf and Mr. Weeks, and instead urges the media to search through the court records to establish the amounts.
Reporters could not get access to the documents referred to by Judge Kontoe at the time of the interview since all the formalities to get the defendants released concluded about the evening hours on Friday.
According to Judge Kontoe, some of the bonds are cash bonds and some are insurance bonds.
He says initially, Mr. Sirleaf had filed a motion for compassionate release on grounds that he has medical condition that requires care.
But in responding to Mr. Sirleaf’s motion for compassionate release, Judge Kontoe says prosecutors were resisting and requiring that Mr. Sirleaf be placed under house arrest to prevent the defendant from going anywhere.
When the court granted the motion for Mr. Sirleaf’s compassionate release and set the condition for his house arrest, Judge Kontoe explains that prosecutors later on reviewed the bond and subsequently dropped the condition for house arrest against Mr. Sirleaf and all the defendants posting their bonds.
Between Monday and Tuesday, 4 to 5 March, prosecutors here incarcerated the indictees upon their failures to secure criminal appearance bonds in billions of Liberian Dollars.
In the indictment, the prosecutors here clarify that it is from the PIT’s findings that these officials have been indicted, and not the findings from Kroll’s investigation, a firm hired by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to help Liberia in the probe.
The indictment indicates that the indictees had no authority to print an excess amount of LRD$2,645,000,000 to infuse it into the Liberian market.
The indictment reveals further that the defendants had no authority to pay the amount of US$835,367.72 to the CBL’s hired firm, co-defendant Crane Currency AB for the printing of the excess amount.
By Winston W. Parley