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U.S. Fed lifts ban on Liberia’s reserves

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Information available to this paper indicates that the United States Federal Reserve has lifted a temporary ban placed on the country’s reserve making way for the resumption of payments through the Central Bank of Liberia or CBL on Monday October 22.

The ban placed on Liberia’s reserve follows the placing on travel ban of several officials of the CBL amongst them incumbent Deputy CBL Governor Charles Sirleaf, a signatory to the country’s reserve after reports of “a missing 16 billion” Liberian bank notes emerged in September this year.

The resumption of payment, according to documents in the possession of the New Dawn, comes after the CBL provided documentations requested by U.S Federal authorities including a signed copy of the amended security procedure, a list of emerging contacts and a revised signature listing.

“We have reviewed and are ready to resume payment operations for Monday October 22 (for or at your earliest. We just wanted to clarify few points before proceeding,” Anthony Reginelli, Relationship Manager, Africa-Middle East, at the U.S Federal Bank of New York, Central bank and International Account Service Markets Group said in an email dated Friday October 19.

“We would continue to accept payments on Monday and Wednesday, for value Tuesday and Thursdays respectively and would continue to review each for compliance with our U.S sanction and AML policies,” Mr. Reginelli said, adding “There might be times where we need to reach out for additional information and ask for your cooperation and patience. In this regard, we would let you know by SWIFT/or email if we ever needed to hold or cancel a payment similar to historical practice.”

U.S. Federal Reserve official further stated in his email that the bank had pre-approved the first two signers from the official list authorized by the CBL on October 15, 2018.The lifting of the temporary ban brings relief to a country currently smarting under financial crisis, as investigations into the alleged missing 15.5 billion Liberian bank notes, about US104 million continues.

The United States Aid for International Development or USAID barely two weeks ago reached an agreement with the Liberian Government to provide independent investigators from reputable firms to look into the saga.The independent investigative team are to carry on a scooping mission and expand into full scale investigation depending on their findings.

The USAID and the Liberian Government agreed that whatever findings established by the team will be made public.Last week, members of the Independent Investigative Team hired by the USAID made brief visits at the Capitol.

USAID and the Liberian authorities reached the agreement days the Governor of the CBL, Mr. Nathaniel Patray announced on October 2, 2018 that there was no money missing at the bank.“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 said in a press statement Tuesday, 2 October.

The CBL further requested that Government vacates its writ and remove the travel restriction placed on its staff so as not to interrupt the smooth operations of the bank.

The current probe had seen several employees of the CBL called in for questioning, including former executive governor J. Milton Weeks and incumbent deputy governor Charles Sirleaf.But Mr. Sirleaf along with other CBL officials were delisted by the Liberian Government last week, something which may have contributed significantly to the US Fed’s decision.

-writes Othello B. Garblah

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