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Weah’s headache

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Following days of persistent pressure both from the public and four collaborating opposition parties here, President George Manneh Weah finally orders an investigative audit into how US$25 million earmarked to mop – up excess Liberian Dollars was expended.

The Executive Mansion says in a press release issued Thursday night, 7 March that President Weah mandates the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to come up with findings within two weeks.

Liberia’s Finance Minister, Samuel Tweah, chaired a Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT) that spearheaded the controversial US$25m mop – up exercise, with the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Executive Governor Nathaniel Patray as co-chair.

Since the arrests, indictments and detentions of five central bank officials, including former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s son Charles E. Sirleaf, for printing excess billion Liberian Dollars, pressure has been mounting here for President Weah to ensure that other suspects, including Minister Tweah and Executive Governor Patray are questioned how the US$25m was used in the mop-up exercise, which was conducted outside the banking system.

The calls for their investigation result from report by a Presidential Investigative Team (PIT) which determines that the TEMT and CBL deviated from the conventional best practice, which calls for the use of legitimate banking institutions and licensed foreign exchange bureaus or sale auction.

The PIT finds that the TEMT and CBL carried out direct mop – up process by engaging some foreign exchange bureaus and some local businesses other than the commercial banks.

According to the PIT, the TEMT and CBL sold a total of US$14m in exchange for a total of L$2,151,363,898.00 between the periods July 17, 2018 to September 18, 2018.

“Growing out of the Presidential Investigative Team’s report, which calls for a ‘forensic investigation’ of the entire mop-up exercise carried out by the Central Bank of Liberia, and the report done by Kroll – an institution of international repute which was commissioned by the U.S. Government – that calls for ‘further understanding’ of how the exercise was conducted, the Ministry of Justice, by directive of President George Manneh Weah, has requested the General Auditing Commission to conduct an investigative audit into how the U.S.$25 million earmarked for the mopping exercise was expended,” the release says.

In July 2018, the government approved the infusion of U.S. $25 million into the Liberian economy in order to bring about stability in the market.

Between Monday and Tuesday, 4 to 5 March, prosecutors here incarcerated CBL’s Deputy Governor Mr. Sirleaf, former Executive Governor Milton Weeks, CBL Director of Banking Dorbor Hagba, Director for Operations Richard H. Walker and the Deputy Director for Internal Audit Joseph Dennis upon their failures to secure criminal appearance 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 “missing 16 billion” Liberian banknotes case.

The indicted officials are expected to give account for an excess amount of 2,645, 000,000, which is yet to be fully accounted for.–Press release

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