The United States Embassy announced Wednesday that it has asked an independent, internationally recognized firm with specialization in forensic investigations through USAID to conduct a scoping mission that could ascertain the basic facts of the alleged missing Liberian bank notes and determine to what extent a broader mission would be needed.
The US Embassy in its statement said the team of independent investigators would work without the imposition of additional actors from the government, civil society, or international partners.It is not clear would become of the investigative team already established by the government, the Americans statement said the move is to ensure effectiveness and integrity in the investigative process.
The disclosure comes barely a day after the Special President Investigative Team probing people of interest delisted at least six names, including Deputy Governor Charles Sirleaf of the Central Bank of Liberia and CBL spokesman Cyrus Wleh Badio, from a travel ban imposed by the Ministry of Justice, pending outcome of the ongoing investigation.
The removal of some names from the travel ban has raised eyebrows among Liberians, some expressing serious doubt whether the ongoing investigation would yield fruitful result, especially, when the Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Nathaniel Patray has said no money went missing at the Bank.
“According to the records of the CBL, the total amount of money printed and placed in the reserve vaults of the Bank was L$15.5 billion for the period of 2016 – 2018. This amount was verified from the CBL own internal documents and documents received from the Crane Currency of Sweden (the contracted printer).
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 has no records showing that monies printed and under its authority have not yet been delivered into its reserve vaults. Records from Crane Currency of Sweden, which was contracted to print the money, show that Crane delivered L$15.5 billion through the Freeport of Monrovia and the Roberts International Airport between 2016 and 2018, and that all these monies were logged by the CBL and delivered into the reserve vaults of the CBL”, Governor Patray maintains.
However, in a statement issued in Monrovia on Wednesday, 10 October the U.S. Embassy says it is its assessment that such a report would be the most credible and effective means to quickly determining the scale of the problem, and would be an appropriate means for the United States to support the Liberian government’s and citizens’ desire to understand the allegations and facts.
“If a broader and longer investigation were found to be needed after the scoping mission has concluded, the Liberian government could discuss next steps with international partners”, the statement reads.
The Government of Liberia had earlier asked the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Reserve to assist with the ongoing investigation about the missing 16 billion Liberian banknotes.
Meanwhile, the statement says to ensure the effectiveness and integrity of the process, the American and Liberian governments have both agreed that the independent forensic investigators will conduct their work with full access to information needed and without the imposition of additional actors from the government, civil society, or international partners.
“In addition, we have agreed that the completed report will be made public, so that there is full transparency and understanding of the outcomes.”
The statement urges all Liberians to remain patient as the Liberian government, assisted by the United States and other international partners, considers appropriate and expeditious means to help resolve current concerns and questions about Liberia’s currency. Statement