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Politics News

Urey, Weeks defend bonds

-Ex-CBL officials

Indicted former Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Executive Governor Milton Weeks’ sister Angelique G. Eupheme Weeks, II and businessman Benoni Urey faced tense questionings Tuesday, 21 May in a crowded courtroom to justify the value of bonds they proffered for the ex-official’s release from the Monrovia Central Prison early this year.

Prosecutors in Monrovia say a US$909,319 bond proffered by businessman Benoni Urey as part of three sureties filed to secure the release of Mr. Weeks from detention is inadequate.

Mr. Weeks and the son of former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf, Charles E. Sirleaf, also a former Deputy CBL Governor are on trial along with Mr. DorborHagba, CBL Director for Banking; Mr. Richard H. Walker, Director for Operations and Mr. Joseph Dennis, Deputy Director for Internal Audit in relation to their roles in Liberia’s LRD$16 billion scandal.

Montserrado County Attorney Cllr. Edwin K. Martin indicates that as part of three sureties [for Mr. Weeks], businessman Benoni Urey posted a bond in the amount of US$909,319, while the amount in the indictment against Mr. Weeks is at the value of US$835,367.72 and LRD$2,645,000,000.00.

From the legal calculation provided by law to justify and provide sufficiency of bond value, the County Attorney Cllr. Martin says it [the bond value] seems to have been in the tune of USD$1,673,735.44 plus LRD$5,290,000,000.

According to Cllr. Martin, prosecution deems the US$909,319 bond value proffered by Mr. Urey for defendant Weeks as insufficient and inadequate to secure his release.

However, Cllr. Martin’s further attempt to have Mr. Urey explain how he would justify the insufficiency of the bond value was disallowed by the Court because presiding Judge Peter Gbenewelleh says the prosecution’s question invades the province of the presiding judge and it is purely an issue of law.

In response to court’s concern about Mr. Urey’s confidence in defendant Weeks’ appearance in court when requested by the court, the surety says he has confidence in the integrity of the indictee.

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He says he prays that Mr. Weeks will continue to be a law abiding citizen with the integrity he has built for himself over the years, concluding that he has “no doubt that Mr. Weeks will honor his obligation to the court and the people of Liberia.”

Later during the hearing, Mr. Weeks’ sister Angelique Weeks similarly faced questioning over a property bond she filed with the court.

She says the property was conveyed to her by her mother, the late Eupheme G. Cooper Weeks who had earlier acquired it in the year 1959.

Madam Weeks explains that the property was valued through an appraisal by the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) in 2012, adding that she has been paying taxes on the property from that time of valuation to present.

Due to the absence of co-defendant Milton Weeks’ third witness in court on Tuesday, Judge Gbeneweleh granted defense lawyer Cllr. Abrahim B. Sillah’s request to allow the hearing to continue today, Wednesday, 22 May to enable an insurance company and the Central Bank of Liberia to appear.

Mr. Weeks and the rest of the other four indictees along with family and friends were in court for the hearing Tuesday.

The ex-officials 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.

The Presidential Investigative Team (PIT) set up by President George Manneh Weah found 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.

They are expected to give account for an excess amount of LRD$2,645, 000,000, which is yet to be fully accounted for.

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.

Upon being indicted, they were initially incarcerated between Monday and Tuesday, 4 to 5 March this year by prosecutors. But the defendants gradually got released from the Monrovia Central Prison following the submission of separate bonds.By Winston W. Parley

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