Philadelphia, PA and Monrovia, Liberia – February 1, 2019: An investigation conducted by the West African Journal Magazine into a new employee in a senior level position at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) has revealed some troubling information.
Mr. Sidiki Sekou Fofana, also known as Sidiki Fofana, and now goes by Hamed Sifonic in Liberia, a former resident of the cities of Darby and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, the United States, has since assumed the position of Executive Bank Director since January 1, 2019 in the Weah Administration in the small and impoverished West African country.
A 79 page dossier of public records obtained from Pennsylvania state government and other public data contained the following on Mr. Fofana:
- Parking Offense
- Driving an Unregistered vehicle
- Allowing the Illegal Use of a License plate/card
- Operating A Vehicle Without Insurance
- Operating a Vehicle With Inspection
- Improper Pass On The Right
- Driving on the Wrong Way
- Careless Driving
- Failure To Yield
- Failure To Yield To Work Vehicle and
- Illegal Parking Where Official Sign Prohibit
Mr. Fofana whose position is not directly reflected in the bank’s current organizational structure also had several liens and judgements filed against him in the City of Philadelphia:
- Federal lien for $5,749 filed on November 5, 2010
- Civil Judgment for $4,475 filed on August 9, 2012
- Civil Lien for $2,355 filed on July 6, 2012
- Civil Judgment for $1,763 filed on August 20, 2012
- Civil Judgement for $1,140 filed on April 2, 2012
- Civil Judgment filed for $1,458 filed on July 28, 2011
- Civil Judgment filed for $1,100 filed on July 2, 2011
- Civil Judgment for $1,613 filed on August 26, 2011 and
- Civil Judgment for $895 filed on August 5, 2018
The most egregious offense include a charge of Retail Theft of Merchandise by Mr. Fofana on May 29, 2018. He initially pleaded Not Guilty on June 19, 2018 and recently 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.
Fofana was also booked on December 18, 2016 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 which is also similar to probation.
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 real professional experience which he brings to the banking sector in Liberia which has been dogged by a “missing $16 billion” scandal. It is unclear if relevant authorities and citizens are aware of the information from the past of Fofana.
He has, however, transitioned to Liberia and is already functioning in his position which is considered critically strategic since he will have access to highly confidential information, contribute to decision-making and oversee general administrative operations at the Central Bank.
The Weah Administration has been dogged by charges of appointing incompetent individuals with no professional experience and in some instances, troublesome legal past.
In a separate development, Liberia’s Central Bank is establishing a “robust” credit reference system to help address the issue of non-performing loans (NPLs). President George M. Weah, in his State of the Union address on Monday, disclosed that the Non-Performing Loans remain a challenge for his government. CBL data showed total NPLs of total loans stood at 163% last April but declined to 12.3 % last July.
“The central bank is taking steps … to address the issue of non-performing loans,” the Liberia President told citizens.
(This story has been updated)
By Our Correspondents in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Monrovia, Liberia
West African Journal Magazine