Barely less than 24 hours after the acquittal of the gang form the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) by the court who were on trial for economic sabotage, Liberia’s Solicitor-General, Cllr. Syrenius Cephus has vowed that government will fight back by making sure that those acquitted be brought to be prosecuted.
Solicitor-General Cephus noted that Criminal Court C Judge Yamie Gbeisay dwelled on the Krolls report which was not permissible in the trial.
According to him Milton A. Weeks, three board members of the CBL, Elsie Dossen Badio, Kollie Gamba, and David Farhat, will be prosecuted and that the case is not over.
At the same time, acquitted former governor Weeks told the media on the day of their freedom been restored that since the case against them that money was missing and now that it has been established by the court that in fact no money was missing, those who registered that money was missing must be brought to court to prove that money was missing.
Weeks also noted that those who said money was printed brought into the country and later got missing pointed out that some of the money was printed by Crane, China and elsewhere will have to prove it in court.
Some time ago, Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe reported that LD15bn printed and brought into the country was reportedly missing.
As this money tussle began to steam up, Finance Minister Samuel Tweah on a local radio station in Monrovia debunked Minister Nagbe’s assertion about the missing money and emphatically stated that no money was missing and that Minister Nagbe was not saying the truth.
However, the statement did not land on a bed of roses as former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf whose government these officials at the CBL including her son, Charles Sirleaf, Deputy Governor for Operations were arrested, charged and dragged to court; fired back at Minister Nagbe for dragging the hard earned repetitions of people in the mud.
In the case that lasted for some time finally came to a close when Criminal Court C Judge Yamie Gbeisay ruled that the state lawyers from the Ministry of Justice did not prove beyond all reasonable doubts that the defendants printed excess Liberian dollar banknotes without the authorization of the Legislature.
According to a local daily Criminal Court C Judge Gbeisay has found former Milton Weeks and other ex-officials of the CBL not guilty on charges of economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy, and criminal facilitation relating to the printing of the L$10 billion banknotes.
Judge Gbeisay’s ruling, which comes as a blow to President Weah’s quest to root out corruption, said the amount of Liberian dollars banknotes printed and sent to Liberia was double-checked and that the Presidential Investigative Team (PIT) did a poor job by erroneously concluding that L$2.645 billion — a conclusion which resulted into the state charging the defendants for printing L$13 billion-plus, instead of L$ 10 billion as contracted.
Judge Gbeisay also added that the amount of Liberian dollars banknotes printed and sent to Liberia were double-checked and that the actual amount of banknotes printed and sent to the country was over L$15,506 billion. He added that the court could not find the defendants guilty of the printing of L$2.645 billion because the unauthorized printing by CBL is not a specific crime under the Liberian criminal law.
Ruling further, he said: “The defendants, having being found not guilty of the printing of L$2.645 billion, and the court has established that the unauthorized printing by CBL is not a specific crime under the Liberian criminal law; the charges of economic sabotage, fraud on the internal revenue, misuse of public money, prop or records, theft/illegal disbursement of public money, criminal conspiracy, criminal facilitation theft of property not being proven, the defendants are hereby adjudged not guilty; with the provision that they may be reprimanded under the Code of Conduct or the Legislature for the abuses of their offices. The defendants are hereby set at liberty and the Criminal appearance Bond ordered returned. The Writ of Ne Exeat Republica is hereby ordered revoked.”
“It is a well-calculated opinion of this court that from the analysis of evidence adduced at trial before this court, it is L$10 billion that was printed under the 2017 contract with an excess of 374,750,000, making a grand total of 10,345,750,000.00; and that there was no printing of an extra L$2.645 billion and that no such L$ 2.645 billion existed to be missing and or not accounted for, this court hereby declares.”
Meanwhile, for the past two years since the issues of the alleged missing L$16 billion came to public knowledge, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has not been able to escape public criticism for the role play in printing the money.
Some of this criticism, which has been harsh at times, include allegations of criminally authorizing the Central Bank of Liberia under the leadership of then Executive Governor Milton A. Weeks to print L$10 billion and have it shipped under the cover of darkness in the midst of Liberia’s 2017 elections year.
But in reaction to this criticism, former President Sirleaf in an exclusive interview with the DAIY OBSERVER said her hands are clean in relation to the printing of the L$10 billion and did nothing criminally as being speculated by the public.
According to former President Sirleaf, when she was approached by the then CBL Executive Governor Weeks about the need to print an additional L$10 billion, since the previous L$5 billion imported was not enough to meet the market requirement; she forwarded the issue to members of the 53rd legislature, who did not get back to her.
“I do know 2017, being a political and toxic environment, that there were a lot of maneuvers going on. Executive Governor Weeks then required that what they had imported was not enough to meet the requirement. Therefore, he needed to print an additional L$10 billion notes. Again, we passed it to the Legislature.
“I did not get from the Legislature resolutions as was the previous case,” Sirleaf said. “Maybe, at that time, Legislators were very adamant about their role in the printing of currency and they were very difficult – meeting directly, calling people from the Central Bank for meetings before their committee to exert their right.”
Defending her innocence, former President Sirleaf said the Legislature then left her in the dark about the resolution, authorizing the CBL to print the money; therefore, she has no proof of the L$10 billion and the entire processes that got it imported and printed.
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