JOINT POSITION OF THE ALL LIBERIAN PARTY, ALTERNATIVE NATIONAL CONGRESS, LIBERTY PARTY AND UNITY PARTY ON REPORTS BY PRESIDENTIAL. INVESTIGATION TEAM (PIT) AND KROLL ASSOCIATES, INC.
March 6, 2019
Upon receipt of the two reports released last week by the Presidential Investigation Team (PIT) and Kroll Associates, Inc., the four Collaborating Political Parties (All Liberian Party, Alternative National Congress, Liberty Party and Unity Party) have analyzed and concluded that both the past and the current governments are culpable in the brazen and shameless looting of public funds.
Specifically, the current government of President George Weah is liable for the US$25m (about LD$4,000,000,000) as clearly accentuated in the report. Hence, it was a gross misrepresentation, and even a deliberate attempt to undermine justice and misinform the people of Liberia, when the President declared upon his return from Israel, that his government has been vindicated by the PIT and the Kroll Inc. reports. How can President Weah tell the world that his government is vindicated when the current Deputy Governor and other current executives of the Central Bank of Liberia are being prosecuted for MISUSE of public funds and economic sabotage and when the two investigative reports speak to gross inadequacy of internal controls and systems at the CBL as well as clearly pointing to fraudulent and suspicious actions and inactions of current fiscal and monetary authorities?
This hasty and prejudicial comment from President Weah only exposes the President’s intention to put a presidential shield of protection over key cronies of his political party who have been hooked by the findings of the reports. The four Collaborating Political Parties therefore demand that in addition to the arrests already made, the government should move quickly to arrest Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, Central Bank Governor Nathaniel Patray and other ranking members of the TEMT. This is in consideration of the investigations’ findings pointing to the conspicuously criminal way the Minister of Finance and Development Planning and the Central Bank Governor, as Chair and Co-Chair of the Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT) respectively, managed the US$25m (about LD$4,000,000,000b) so-called mop-up exercise of 2018.
We recall that both Minister Samuel Tweah and Governor Nathaniel Patray had misled Liberians in 2018 that “no money was missing”. This action by the two officials created confusion last year and might have been a calculated ploy to conceal the fact that billions of Liberian dollars printed and shipped between January 2016 and August 2018 had either disappeared from the CBL or may not have been delivered to the CBL despite having been paid for, printed and shipped to the country by Crane AB. After mounting public pressures, President Weah reluctantly agreed to commission two separate investigations into the money dilemma.
We appreciate that the same Government that had initially resisted calls from civil society groups by downplaying this grave matter when news about it first broke out last year, has moved to arrest three (3) persons, including former Central Bank Governor Milton Weeks, current Deputy Executive Governor Charles Sirleaf and Director of Banking, Dorbor Hagba. We welcome this move. But because of the gravity of this matter and the extent to which some senior members of this administration were involved in what is undoubtedly the biggest financial scandal in Liberia, this action is still grossly inadequate. President Weah should avoid the temptation to shield officials of his administration mentioned in the reports as having contributed to the messy monetary situation in the country while at the same time pursuing former officials for criminal prosecution.
The two reports are unambiguous about the roles played by the current CBL administration, which, according to the two reports, did not fully cooperate with both Kroll Associates, Inc. and the Government-commissioned PIT. In other words, the reports indict both past and present CBL administrations. In fact, Kroll Associates, Inc. makes it clear that requests made to the CBL for documentation “remain outstanding” and that information provided by CBL during the review exercise were inaccurate and “incomplete”.
Kroll Associates, Inc. has also informed the Government of Liberia through its Scoping Report that they discovered “discrepancies at every stage of the process for controlling the movement of banknotes into and out of the CBL”. Considering the time of printing and shipment being from January 2016 to August 2018, it makes no sense for Governor Patray not to be charged as done to both his predecessor and current Principal Deputy. President Weah must show fairness in this matter and not try to shield anyone linked directly to this massive robbery and economic sabotage. He must understand that Liberia will take years to recover from this wickedness.
Also, it will be provocative for President Weah and his administration to ignore the fact that US$25m (about LD$4,000,000,000bn) ordered from our national reserve to facilitate a so-called “mop-up” exercise last year was handled in a bizarre and criminal manner. We remind the president that senior members of his Economic Management Team, as revealed in the reports, designed, directed and must have exploited last year’s monetary situation to commit the CRIME OF MONEY LAUNDERING. In fact, the report of the Presidential Investigative Team (PIT) was unequivocal in stating that the “TEMT/CBL (under the leadership and direction of both Tweah and Patray) failed to set standard criteria for the participation of businesses in terms of their legitimacy (eg. duly registered businesses and or tax compliance, etc.)”; and “that the principle of KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER (KYC) was not observed throughout the mop-up exercise thereby creating the platform for illegal business dealers to clean their illegal money”. This is a very grave matter that the administration should not downplay.
We hasten to draw President Weah’s attention, since it appears that he is yet to fully understand the implications of the two reports, to the disclosure that on July 10, 2018 under the direction of the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel Tweah, US$20.0m (LD$3.2bn) was drawn on the US$25m (about LD$4,000,000,000bn) announced for a mop-up without any clearly written strategy and approval. That this withdrawal order was made several days before the CBL Board could issue a decree on this matter on July 16, 2018, according to Kroll Associates, Inc. and President’s Weah nation-wide address of the same date announcing the infusion of US$25 million, is even more worrisome.
Kroll Associates, Inc. identifies three (3) risks that President Weah should not overlook: potential misapplication, potential opportunities for money laundering, and potential execution of transactions with illegal businesses. As revealed in the reports, Minister Tweah and the President’s Economic Management Team willfully encouraged and created the conditions for these high risks. For an economy that is already severely undermined by unchecked waves of corruption and growing loss of investors’ confidence since the president assumed office in January 2018, this is an act of sabotage. There should be no sacred cows.
While we appreciate the efforts of the United States Agency for International Development USAID in the conduct of a scoping investigation into the missing billions and the US$25m (about LD$4,000,000,000bn) intended to mop out excess bank notes from the market, we wish to state unequivocally that the controlling issue here is just not who overstepped the bounds in the printing of the bank notes but also who used the money and how they used it, or better still where is the money?
As a matter of fact, considered from the face value of the LD$2.5b (about USD$ 12.5m) bank notes and US$25m (about LD$4,000,000,000bn) one would come to the realization that US$25m is more in value than LD$2.5b (about US$ 12.5m). Even so, the economic paralysis created for the suffering mass of our people as a result of the actions of those former and present officials of government, are of consequential implications and require reciprocal actions. It is therefore of grave concern to us that the Government of President Weah would move expeditiously in the direction of effectuating arrests in the LD$2.5billion (about USD$ 12.5m) case involving former Bank Governor Weeks, Charles Sirleaf and others, while being reluctant on extending similar action to his officials.
The four Collaborating Political Parties take due note of Kroll’s indication of a “Redacted report.” Considering that there was a need to redact the report for whatsoever reason, we believe for the sake of increased credibility of the report it would serve a good purpose to have an un-redacted version of the report made available to the National Legislature, the custodian of the people’s authority and to national institutions such as the four Collaborating Political Parties. In this regard, the four Collaborating Political Parties request a copy of the unedited version of the report.
Our concern is also drawn to the sequence in which the two reports were issued. To the best of our recollection the PIT investigation was commissioned in advance of the Kroll investigation as a result of mounting pressure on the government to commission an international investigation. Why was it that the issuance of the two reports came just few hours apart?
Finally, we call for the following specific actions to give substance to our national efforts in dealing with the bruising economic situation that now besets our country:
- The immediate arrest of the Minister of Finance and Development Planning and Chair of the Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT), Samuel Tweah, the Governor of the Central Bank, Nathaniel Patray and all other individuals connected to the scandals;
- Speedy trial of former and current government officials who may be culpable as per the Koll and PIT investigations;
If these calls are not heeded and some of those directly culpable are left off the hook, we will organize a series of MASS ACTIONS across Liberia to express our dissatisfaction and to let President Weah and his administration know how Liberians are growing impatient by the day. We want the artificial hardships imposed by bad governance to end. The waves of looting by senior members of this administration while ordinary citizens are struggling to survive must stop!
We call on the Civil Society, Religious Community, the Business Community, Labor and Trade Unions, the Liberia Marketing Association, Youth and Student Organizations, partisans and auxiliary groups of the four Collaborating Political Parties, all other Political Parties and all peace-loving Liberians at home and abroad to remain resolved and take concrete steps in protecting the integrity of our country and to hold government accountable to the people of Liberia.
Our move is deliberate and is intended to prevent the governance situation from degenerating into a crisis of cataclysmic proportions. We cannot sit supinely as laws are broken with impunity and innocent lives are destroyed either through fanaticism or under mysterious circumstances. This is the time to act, and act we must as a people to save Liberia!
May we all be reminded that Liberia is owned by all Liberians irrespective of where you are, who you are, or your tribal and religious affiliation or political parties.
Also, President Weah must obey the oath of affirmation to defend, protect and uphold the Constitution and laws of our country and immediately halt his infamous practice of continuously and conspicuously violating and undermining of the constitution and laws of Liberia.
The waves of violence against innocent citizens by fanatics of the CDC crowned by the alleged weekend murder in cold blood of a CBL official, Matthew Innis, who was said to have questioned the TEMT’s approach and interference in the mopping up of Liberian dollars from the market are trademarks of tyranny and belong to the dark days of our history. The four Collaborating Political Parties therefore demand an impartial, transparent, and speedy investigation into the cold-blooded murder of Mr. Innis.
ISSUED THIS 6TH DAY OF MARCH 2019 BY:
Wilmot J. M. Paye Steve Zargo
UNITY PARTY-UP LIBERTY PARTY-LP
Lafayette O. Gould J. S. B. Theodore Momo, Jr.
ALTERNATIVE NATIONAL CONGRESS-ANC ALL LIBERIAN PARTY-ALP