Liberia: Central Bank Memo Confirm Receipt of Bank Notes

Internal audit documentation have surfaced from the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) verifying receipt of a consignment of 56 boxes of Liberian bank notes in various denominations of L$5, L$10, $50, L$100 and L$500.

Headquarters of Central Bank of Liberia

The audit documentation, copies of which are in the possession of West Africa Journal Magazine, are contained in a memo dated April 4, 2018 to then Bank Governor Milton Weeks from the Director of the Internal Audit Department one Adolphus Forkpa. Mr. Weeks separated from the Bank in July, 2018.

The memo confirmed receipt on April 3, 2018 of a consignment of $374,750,000 (Three Hundred Seventy Four Million Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand) Liberian dollars from Crane Currency in Sweden through the Freeport of Monrovia on Bushrod Island.

Attached to the memo is a breakdown of the denominations totaling $374,750,000.

Also in possession of the African Journal is documentation of Currency Shipment received by the CBL on Oct 17, 2017, November 17, 2017, December 17, 2017,January 18, 2018, February 18, 2018 and April 18, 2018. Total boxes of currency consignment in various denominations received during this period was 3,276 for a total amount of $10,359,750,000 (Ten Million Three Hundred and Fifty Nine Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty Liberian Dollars).

By this time the George M. Weah Administration had been in office for nearly three months.

In a memo cover letter signed by one “Peter” and addressed to one “Miatta”, a reference to a Ms. Miatta Oberly-Kuteh, a bank executive, he tried to explain the confusion of the packing list of the consignment of money and admitted to over production of currency. “…what happened is that the factory needed to order extra boxes to accommodate the over production.Tailor made boxes would take some time to arrive so the factory made a number of its own boxes, which are not the same dimensions as those used for the bulk production…” the letter said.

It is unclear what “Peter” meant by over production or how much in over production of minted currency was made and who authorized it.

Liberian Currency

 

On March 29, another memorandum address to the Deputy Bank Governor for Operations Charles E. Sirleaf from the Deputy Director of Banking and PS Ms Miatta Oberly-Kuteh advised of the transfer of 8 pallets of printed materials from the National Port Authority (NPA) to the Central Bank reserve vault at the National Housing and Savings Bank in the commercial district of Waterside. The transfer was expected on March 30, 2018 and the memo also requested approval of a budget to facilitate the transfer.

On Thursday, former Central Bank Governor Milton Weeks, in a press interview, disclosed that the total local currency minted was $15 Billion (Fifteen Billion) Liberian dollars which arrived in the country between October 2017 and April, 2018 in various denominations.

Former Central Bank Governor Milton Weeks

There is controversy over how much of the cash entered the CBL after the Bank took receipt of it as documentation is disclosing.

Former Governor Weeks has strong denied any involvement or knowledge of the “missing containers of money” and says he is committed to cooperating with the authorities to get to the bottom of the matter. He has not been charged with any crime.

The Government of Liberia is requesting local and international investigation assistance into the matter. President George Weah has yet to make any comment on the matter.

Meantime, there are reports of a planned demonstration on Monday, September 24 in the Liberian capital.

According to social media posts, its appears some civil society groups and activists are planning to protest and demand the return of the “missing bank notes”.

In anticipation of the demonstration and as a precaution, the US Embassy in Monrovia is alerting US government personnel to avoid the areas of the demonstration, monitor local media for updates and keep a low profile.

This is standard practice by US diplomatic missions to safeguard their citizens in volatile areas around the world.

By Our Staff Reporters

Liberia: Former Central Bank Governor Strongly Denies Knowledge of Missing Bank Notes.

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