By: Anthony Q. Jiffan, Jr
MONROVIA – Suspended Deputy Governor for Operations at the Central Bank of Liberia, Mr. Charles Sirleaf, has expressed confident in the justice system of Liberia and indicated that “Justice has prevailed” in the criminal case involving him and other suspended officials of the CBL.
“Firstly, I give God the glory, and all else I can say again is that our country is a country of law; and our president believes in the rule of law and justice will be served,” Mr. Sirleaf exclaimed.
Mr. Sirleaf, a son of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, made the statement after a motion was filed before the Criminal Court “C” Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay by state prosecutors, requesting the court to drop charges against defendants Charles Sirleaf, Director for Finance, Dorbor M. Hagba, Director for Operation, Richard H. Walker and Deputy Director for Internal Audit, Joseph Dennis, leaving on the criminal bench former CBL Executive Governor Milton A. Weeks. The charges include economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy, criminal facilitation and money laundering.
Solicitor General Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus who filed the motion on behalf of the State on Friday, May 15, 2020, told the court that instead of former Deputy Governor Sirleaf and the suspended officials of the CBL, the focus of the prosecution is being redirected at the Board of Governors of the CBL and former Executive Governor Milton Weeks.
Said, Cllr. Cephus, the Executive Governor, Mr. former Weeks who served as Secretary to the Board by statute is said to be in the know and had participated in the authorization of the printing of the L$10.5 billion and its excess including the L$2.6 billion in question.
In his response, the presiding Judge Gbeisay, having listened to the Prosecution’s motion, announced that the Criminal Court “C” reserves ruling on the motion filed by the state.
It can be recalled that Mr. Charles Sirleaf and his boss, Mr. Milton Weeks along with the director of finance for the CBL, Dorbor M. Hagba, the bank’s Deputy Director for Internal Audit Joseph Dennis, and Richard Walker were jointly indicted on 4 March 2019 to account for their roles in the alleged printing of L$10.5 billion and its excess including the L$2.6 billion.
Liberia’s Chief Prosecutor, Solicitor General, Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus told journalists last Friday following the presentation of the motion before the court that the Republic of Liberia is dropping charges against Charles Sirleaf and others because by law, they were not in authority to authorize the printing of money.
SG Cephus explained that authorizing the printing of money falls under the authority of the Board of Governors of the Central Bank of Liberia, and pointed out that at the time of commission of the alleged crime, former Executive Governor Milton Weeks was the Secretary to the Board.
“So we are redirecting our legal battle at the Board of Governors; we will go after every member of the CBL Board”, Cllr. Cephus told journalists and also indicated that “this case cannot be won when the real individuals involved are left out, stating that Mr. Charles Sirleaf and the rest of the defendants were serving in subordinate capacities for which they cannot bear liability for authorizing printing of the L$10.5 billion and the excess out of which L$2.6 billion is unaccounted for.
“I am saying you cannot fight the snake from the tail, you fight it from the head; what that means is Mr. Charles Sirleaf and the rest of the defendants were serving in subordinate capacities and cannot be the ones to be held accountable for the authorization intended to print money at the CBL” he repeated.
According to the SG, in such a cooperation, you deal with the Board, the Managing Director and the Secretary of the Board. “So in this case involving the CBL, you do not go after the deputy governor and other subordinates and leave out the board of directors and the executive governor.”
Cllr. Cephus said as of Friday, May 15, 2020, the Government of Liberia has started going after the board of directors of the CBL, noting that two of the board members have started cooperating with his office.
He however warned that anyone who fails to comply will be arrested and indicted, indicating that the CDC-led government has zero tolerance on corruption.
The Liberia Chief prosecutor said the arrest and charging of Mr. Sirleaf and the others earlier was a strategic tactic to get the reality of the case. At the same time, he expressed optimism of winning the case against the rest of those being pursued.