United States Ambassador to Liberia Michael A. McCarthy has expressed concern over how some of Liberia’s most prominent business professionals and largest companies borrow millions of dollars from Liberian banks with absolutely zero intention of paying back their loans.
In his commencement address to Stella Maris Polytechnic’s 2021-2022 graduates and guests recently, Amb. McCarthy referenced the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment’s (LBDI) non-performing loan recovery program.
“How well are some of Liberia’s most prominent business professionals and largest companies “serving” the country if they borrowed millions of dollars from Liberian banks with absolutely zero intention of paying back their loans?” he asked.
The U.S. Envoy continued, “How can the Liberia Bank of Development and Investment spur the growth of new small and medium enterprises if, as a result of ‘non-performing loans of prominent people,’ the bank has no money to lend?”
Amb. McCarthy called out prominent Liberians and businesses for acting with impunity as they engage in corruption and break laws to enrich themselves.
Citing a number of examples representative of the pervasiveness of corruption in government and the private sector in Liberia, Mr. McCarthy warned of the dangers of institutions and individuals in Liberia acting with “impunity.”
“The Cambridge English Dictionary says that Impunity is freedom from punishment for something that is wrong or illegal,” the Ambassador continued.
He also cited a phrase he has heard repeated in Liberia: Liberia is “a country where impunity rules.”
Addressing the graduates, Mr. McCarthy also urged them to prioritize service in every activity they undertake.
“I encourage you to aim higher than what is considered service,” he told the 606 members of the 23rd graduating class of Stella Maris. The ceremony was held in the university’s “Poly Gym.”
“Today’s commencement celebrates not an ending point, but the beginning of your journey; a journey that will have a lasting impact on yourselves, on the Liberian people and on the country,” said Amb. McCarthy.
He told the graduates that they have commenced their work as leaders by applying the knowledge they have obtained so far.
“Perhaps, the biggest difference you can make as an individual, and a cohort, is through your gift of service. Dream to learn well! Learn so as to serve well,” Mr. McCarthy concluded.
In August, the President and Management of LBDI, Liberia’s only Development Finance Institution announced the launch of the program designed to collect an estimated $60 million in unpaid loans Liberian individuals and companies owe the Bank.
Mr. Deo Delaney, President and CEO of LBDI, said the U.S. Ambassador mentioning the bank’s recovery effort in his speech affirms for him that the initiative is a step in the right direction.
However, he said the effort targets some prominent companies and individuals that may have political or social influence.
“The goal of the program is to increase the Bank’s liquidity and profits after a five-year period of record loss during which the bank lost nearly 25% of its customer base,” said Mr. Delany.
He added that these actions will engender public trust and confidence among investors, customers, and other affiliates – including employees.
“An excessive amount of bad loans on the books only compounds the Bank’s dire financial situation,” Mr. Delaney said.
“It is one of the most important steps on our path to future growth.”