Former Central Bank Governor Milton Weeks
A tape recording has been released which purportedly features an audio Press Statement of the former Governor of Liberia’s Central Bank of Liberia who is strongly denying his admission and knowledge of the missing container of billions of Liberian dollars.
The controversy which is producing a public firestorm of sentiments against the Administration of Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and incumbent President George M. Weah broke in the last week.
In the audio recording, Mr. Milton Weeks said that the many statements in the press and social media attributed to him are false, adding, “I felt it necessary for me to set the record straight on a few matters because to me, these false statements are getting out of hand.”
Former Governor Weeks denied that he knew of missing containers of currency.
On the issue of authority, Mr. Weeks emphatically stated that as Governor of the Bank, he obtained the first legislative authority in 2016 to print $5 billion Liberian dollars and another authority for the minting of $10 billion Liberian dollars in 2017.
“…But in addition to the Legislature, the Board of Governors acted on the strength of the authorization from the Legislature for us to also get approval from my Board for all of the printing. It was never a unilateral one-man decision…”Mr Weeks emphasized.
“I’m merely first among equals in terms of the Board of Governors,” he continued, saying, “I do not make decisions unilaterally.”
Liberian $100 Currency
In debunking what he called insinuations surrounding the period of the arrival of the cash into Liberia, the former banking official explained that the Bank printed $5 billion Liberian dollars in 2016 and that currency arrived the same year.
In 2017, Mr. Weeks said the Bank printed an additional $10 billion Liberian dollars and that is all the money he is aware of; that would add up total $15 billion Liberian dollars since 2016, instead of the $16 billion in local currency that the Justice Ministry confirmed as investigating.
Mr. Weeks did not broach the issue of whether the money was placed on the books of the bank.
“…that money, the $10 billion that is being talked about…that money came in between October 2017 and up to early sometime in 2018. I don’t have the exact dates because I left the bank since July, as you know. I did not leave with records; so all of those records should be at the bank to be able to state exactly when those amounts were imported…”, Mr. Weeks detailed, adding that to the best of his knowledge, the printing of the Liberian dollars was done in Sweden only.
He disclosed that he remains committed to working with the authorities to get to the bottom of the matter.
In a strong denial, he blasted the “lies and innuendoes” against him.
Mr. Weeks is among several individuals named by the country’s Ministry of Justice who have been restricted from traveling while the matter was being investigated.
He said he was saddened that some would go to the extent of maligning people’s character without any basis, saying, he was very protective of the integrity of his family’s name.
Flag of Liberia
He reiterated that his intent now was to sort out the whole thing.
Observers say it was necessary for Mr. Weeks to publicly set the record straight, given the conflicting information and contradictions of various government officials from the Justice, Information and Finance and Planning Ministries.
The Government of Liberia bypassed it’s own anti-graft agency, the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC) and constituted an investigation panel comprising religious, civil society and legal representatives.
The Liberian Government says it is also seeking investigation assistance from the US Government and the IMF.
By Emmanuel Abalo
West African Journal Magazine