-Resolved to Employ Specialize Investigators
The U.S. Embassy in Liberia, through USAID has resolved to reach out and bring into the country, recognized firms with specialization in forensic investigations to conduct a scoping mission that could ascertain the basic facts of the alleged missing currency matter.
The US Embassy further indicated that its move is the most credible and effective means to quickly determine the scale of the alleged missing currency matter in the country.
In a statement issued in Monrovia Wednesday, October 10, 2018, the U. S. Mission noted that it has reached out to independent investigators internationally to probe and determine to what extent a broader mission would be needed.
Apparently, the statement is in reaction to previous call by the President of Liberia, Dr. George Manneh Weah, calling on the international community to assist the Presidential Investigation Committee probing report of the missing L$16 billion saga.
The statement also came in the wake of massive mobilization of the masses of the people across the country to engage in a nationwide protest in demand of the alleged missing L$16 billion.
Already, there are variances and contradictions in public statement from officials of the government in the wake of which President Weah calls on the people to be patient as he would leave no stone unturned in bringing persons found culpable to bear the force of the law to its full extent.
President Weah’s assurance was issued shortly before his departure to the United States where he addressed the United Nations General Assembly followed.
An interview by VOA with Liberia’s Minister of Information, Lenn Eugene Nagbe admitted the missing money and put the amount at more or less than L$15 billion instead of L$9 billion as reported by local media.
The Minister of Justice, Frank Musa Dean, also admitting to the missing money facilitated the constitution of a probe committee by the government of which his ministry is a part.
But the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel Tweah, and the Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Mr. Nathaniel Patray, denied that money was ever missing from the country.
Governor Patray said an internal audit conducted at the bank shows that the money in question was L$15.5 billion and was in the vaults of the CBL. His statement was apparently corroborated by President Weah when he returned from the UNGA meeting when he pronounced that there was no money missing, and that journalist who broke the news of the missing money will be brought to investigation to substantiate their reports.
In the meantime, there have been public protestations by some civil society groupings demanding government to bring back the missing money, calling on the international community to freeze direct support to the government until circumstances leading to the missing money are understood and culprits brought to justice.
Shortly after the first major protest, reports have indicated that the United States foreign reserve agency has announced suspension of its activities with the Central Bank of Liberia.
In the wake of these scenarios, the United States Embassy near Monrovia issued the statement in which the Mission says, “It is the assessment of the U.S. Embassy in Liberia that findings by the foreign forensic investigative scoping mission would be the most credible and effective means to quickly determine the scale of the problem.
The Embassy says this would be an appropriate means for the United States to support the Liberian government’s and citizens’ desire to understand the allegations and facts.”
According to the Statement, the US Embassy asserts that 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.
“To ensure the effectiveness and integrity of the process, the U.S. and Liberian governments have 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,” the statement noted.
“In addition, we have agreed that the completed report will be made public, so that there is full transparency and understanding of the outcomes. We urge 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,” the statement concluded.