Defense lawyers representing former Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Executive Governor Milton A. Weeks have pleaded with Criminal Court “C” in Monrovia to permit and reinstate the property valuation bond he filed during previous trial of the L$16 billion case, after his re-indictment was announced along with several CBL officials and board members.
After a new indictment for money laundering was added to the previous charges levied in the first indictment against the CBL officials in 2019. The Court in August last year ordered the five CBL officials who were on trial at the time, to file LD$1,058,000,000 bonds each, which when combined totaled LD$5,290,000,000.
Having nolleprosequi the previous indictment, prosecutors here on Monday, 8 June issued a new indictment, the third in the case against the CBL officials, this time, including other members of the bank’s Board of Governors for alleged economic sabotage surrounding the $16 billion Liberian Dollars scandal.
The new indictment alleges that the defendants knew that the total money printed by Crane Currency under the second contract was L$13,004,750,000 which accounts for an excess of L$2,645,000,000, and yet they connived to defraud the Government of Liberia by criminally concealing and understating the excess amount printed.
The defendants allegedly recorded only L$359,750,000, excluding the L$2.6 billion which they allegedly stole and exercised unauthorized control over at the detriment of the Government of Liberia.
With the exception of former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf’s son, Charles E. Sirleaf, who at the time was the CBL Deputy Governor for Operations, the prosecution in the new indictment lists the Bank’s Board of Governors and its officials as indictees, including David M. Farhat, Melissa A. Emeh, Elsie Dossen Badio and Kollie Tamba.
The other defendants are former CBL Executive Governor Milton A. Weeks; Dorbor M. Hagba, former Director of Finance; Richard H. Walker, former Director for Banking and Joseph Dennis, former Director for Internal Audit.
The new indictment contains seven charges which are higher in number compared to the five charges levied against the defendants in the previous indictments, and except for Mr. Sirleaf, all his alleged accomplices are reindicted. The move by the defense counsel to plead for the reinstatement of the previous bond appears to avoid their client being rearrested.
The defense urged the court to take judicial notice that in addition to the property valuation bond and the surety, their client had and continues to comply with all the additional conditions associated and connected with the bond. The defense team complained of the “undue burden” that defendant Weeks had endured in procuring a bond each time an indictment is obtained and served on him.
With reference to defendant Weeks being allowed to benefit from his previous property valuation bond, Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay says that action is within the sound discretion of the judge, adding that the court will review the records of the past indictment including the charges and the behavior of the defendants.
“The court will ascertain further and assess whether the property used to indemnify the defendant is still in tight and whether the sureties of this property are still available,” Judge Gbeisay says. On that basis, he says the court shall proceed to use its discretion in favor or against the defendants.
The government here indicted the officials in 2019 for their alleged roles in the misapplication of $16 billion Liberian Dollars printed and shipped to Liberia to replace old local currency after a series of mass protests led local and international institutions to investigate a claim that the money had gone missing.
By Winston W. Parley