Circumventing Justice – Opposition Accuses Weah of Shielding Tweah, Patray

Four opposition Collaborating Political Parties say there should be no sacred cows in the dispensation of justice to as all those implicated in both financial fraud reports by the Kroll & Associates and the Presidential Investigative Team (PIT) are all equal under our laws.

The Unity Party (UP), Liberty Party (LP), Alternative National Congress (ANC) And All Liberian Party (ALP) said they believe that request by President George Manneh Weah to the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to conduct a forensic audit into the misapplied, misappropriated or even stolen US$25 million that was meant to mop-up the excess LRD from market is an attempt to circumvent justice and shield Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, Central Bank Governor Nathaniel Patray and other members of the TEMT from prosecution.

A press release issued in Monrovia maintained that while they appreciate the government effecting initial arrests in the issues surrounding the missing billions, they are equally calling on the government to avoid the temptation of applying selective justice. “There should be no sacred cows as all those implicated in both reports are equal under our laws” the collaborating opposition parties emphasized.

The President recently directed the General Auditing Commission (GAC) to conduct a forensic audit into the misapplied, misappropriated or even stolen US$25 million that was meant to mop-up the excess LRD from market.

But the opposition collaborating parties argued that if the government relied on the investigative reports from the Presidential Investigating Team (PIT) and the Kroll & Associates Inc as a basis for the arrest of Milton Weeks, Charles Sirleaf and other members of the Central Bank, why shouldn’t the same reports be used as reliance for the arrest of Minister Tweah and Governor Patray?

The opposition collaborating parties asserted that they and majority of the Liberian people are baffled by the government’s decision to arrest some Liberians based on these two reports and at the same time request further investigation when it relates to officials in [this] government (Minister Tweah and Governor Patray),” the collaborating pasties said in a release signed their Chairman Benoni W. Urey.

The four opposition political parties accentuated that they are not comfortable with the President’s decision and believe that this is yet another attempt by President Weah to shield his confidants for the crimes they might have blatantly committed.

“It is a glaring fact that audit reports are not normally the basis for prosecution. Instead, they create the basis for a further criminal investigation to be conducted by either the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) or the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). While audit reports of the GAC are subject to criminal investigations by the LACC; criminal investigations conducted by the LACC are not subject to audits by the GAC,” they asserted.

Audits, they maintained, usually precede criminal investigation. “Where we are in the process with a Presidential Investigation Team (PIT) report already issued by the LACC, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), which formed the basis for the arrest and prosecution of Milton Weeks et all, we need to use the same PIT report to prosecute those responsible for stealing the US$25 million; failing that and if the government chooses to do further investigation, any such investigation must be a continuation of the PIT investigation and could incorporate the GAC to give technical support.”

Therefore, the collaborating parties believe that requesting the GAC to exclusively conduct the forensic investigation, to the exclusion of the LACC and the FIU, only inserts another layer in the process that could create the basis for unnecessary delay to bring to justice all those (including -Minister Tweah and Governor Patray) who bear culpability for the misuse of the US$25 million during the mop-up exercise.

Of major concern also is the finding in both reports that there was possible money laundering in the execution of the mop-up exercise conducted by Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah and CBL Governor Nathaniel Patray.

This finding is of grave concern to the opposition community and the Liberian populace in general as it has the propensity to put the country on the spotlight in a negative way and also damages the image that we fought to build over the years. This in addition to the squandering of the US$25 Million by the TEMT is pressing reasons why this issue should be a priority to the government of Liberia.

Mr. President may we remind you of your commitment to serve the Liberian people irrespective of their financial, social or political positions in society. In this view, we would (if you have not already been informed) that the three other former and current employees of the Central Bank of Liberia that are still in prison have health challenges in some instances, even worse than Deputy Governor Charles Sirleaf.
They are therefore are requesting a compassionate release of the three as was done for the others while they undergo investigation for whatever crimes they allegedly committed.

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