Dulles, Virginia USA and Monrovia, Liberia – February 6, 2019: In its continuing investigation, the West African Journal Magazine has found no academic proof that the newly appointed Executive Director at Liberia’s Central Bank Mr. Sidiki Fofana, now known as Hamed Sifonic in Monrovia, holds a professional degree as he claimed. A check with the National Student Clearinghouse in the U.S. could not obtain any verification of academic credentials.
The Virginia based National Student Clearinghouse is the premier organization in the U.S. that prides itself in reporting, research, verification, transcript, and data exchange demands. It says, its mission is, “to serve the education and workforce communities and all learners with access to trusted data, related services, and insights.”
Verification documentation obtained from the National Student Clearing House, which are in possession of the West African Journal Magazine, show that he enrolled as Sidiki Fofana at the Catholic owned St. Joseph’s University on the outskirts of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania the U.S. between January 1, 2016 and May 15, 2018 but did not graduate with any professional degree, “an enrollment only” entry is recorded for him.
A check on enrollment status at University of Phoenix, a for-profit institution of higher learning based in Phoenix, Arizona, that offers classes primarily online, though it also has campuses and learning centres, showed no record of Fofana ever at that institution.
The Human Resource Department of the Central Bank of Liberia sourced the academic background of Fofana after he claimed he attended the two U.S. based schools . This prompted the West African Journal Magazine’s investigation into Fofana’s claims that he holds a professional degree.
Fofana who was named to the senior administrative position in January, 2019, at the Bank is a member of the ruling Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) in the very poor West African country which is dealing with difficult economic problems.
The Board of the Central Bank is yet to approve his appointment, although he continues to serve in the capacity as Executive Director. Senior level employees of the Central Bank including the Governor, his Deputy, and those in operational roles, as would Mr. Fofana, are required to be “persons of good standing and unimpeachable character from the business and academic communities with experience and expertise in business, banking, finance , economics and management…” according to the Bank. Fofana has no professional experience or verifiable academic credentials which he brings to the banking sector in Liberia.
Members of the Board of Governors of the CBL who have the final say on approval of the nomination of Fofana include David M. Farhat, Melisa A. Emeh, Kolli S. Tamba and Elsie Dossen Badio.
The position of Executive Director which Fofana is named to is currently not included in the organizational structure of the Bank. It remains a waiting game as observers maintain a vigil on the pending decision of the CBL Board of Governors on Fofana’s appointment.
Contained in the Act to Authorize the Establishment of the Central Bank which was approved in March, 1999 and under the sub-heading, “Oath of Fidelity”, it states that Every Governor, officer, employee or agent of the Central Bank shall take an oath of fidelity and secrecy in the for prescribed by the bylaws…”
The CBL says, “…it regulates, and supervises the financial institutions in Liberia with the aim of ensuring the safety and soundness of the financial system as a whole…”
Fofana was booked on December 18, 2016 in the U.S. and charged with the misdemeanor of Driving Under the Influence with a high rate Blood Level Alcohol (BAC ) of .10 to under .16 detected by a breathalyzer test. In Pennsylvania, “…The first time you are arrested and convicted for drunk driving in the State of Pennsylvania you will receive 6 months of probation and a $300 fine if your BAC was between .08-.99. If your BAC was from .10-.159 you will receive from 2 days to 6 months of prison time prison, a $500-$5,000 fine and a 12 month driver’s license suspension. One drink equals 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor (40% alcohol), 12 ounces of beer (4.5% alcohol), or 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol). Under current Pennsylvania law, (.08 BAC and higher) is legally intoxicated.
Since it was his first offense, he was diverted to an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) which is a special pre-trial intervention program in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, United States for non-violent offenders with no prior or limited record. Defendants in an ARD program are placed under supervision.
Magisterial Court documentation from the U.S., in possession of The West African Journal Magazine reveal a very serious offense and charge of Retail Theft of Merchandise by Mr. Fofana on May 29, 2018. He initially pleaded Not Guilty on June 19, 2018 and as of November 21, 2018, pleaded guilty in a Magisterial Court in Pennsylvania. Penalty was imposed and Fofana paid $210.25 and the case was closed.
Shortly thereafter, Fofana moved back to Liberia.
As recently as last Friday, Fofana, in apparent denial of the report of his conviction for retail theft and driving under the influence in the U.S., posted the following to his social media account under the name Hamed Fofana: “Egregious” a common word used in my place of work…Those behind me are dull. Now it’s clear where all this is coming from!”, an apparent attempt to counter the report.
Liberia’s Information Minister Eugene Lenn Nagbe offered support to Fofana in a social media post on last Saturday when he wrote, “Shame on all the prophets of doom…our country is progressing…Live with your false rumors, the facts will keep standing in your faces….”
The CBL official has yet to subject himself to media scrutiny or provide clear documentation to refute the report of his conviction for theft of retail merchandise, driving under the influence or proof of academic credentials (professional degree) to occupy the post at the CBL.
By Our Staff Reporter in Virginia, USA and Investigative Correspondents in Monrovia, Liberia
West African Journal Magazine