-Opposition Political Parties Pressure Weah
By R. Joyclyn Wea
Four collaborating opposition Political Parties (UP, LP, ANC, and ALP) demand that in addition to the arrests already made, the Liberian Government should move quickly to arrest Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Central Bank Governor Nathaniel R. Patray and other high ranking members of the Economic Management Team (TEMT) for the well about of the US$25million intended for mop-up-exercise.
This is in consideration of the investigation’s findings pointing to the conspicuously criminal way the Finance Minister and the CBL Governor, Chair and Co-Chair of the Technical Economic Management Team respectively, managed the US$25m (about L$4,000,000,000) so-called mop-up exercise of 2018.
The group has threatened to organize series of mass actions across Liberia to express their dissatisfaction and to as well let President Weah and his CDC-led government know how Liberians are growing impatient by the day, if their call to have these two officials arrested is not giving ears.
Reading the four parties’ position on the matter, Theodore Momo, National Chairman of the All Liberian Party (ALP) said considering the value of the L$2.5m (about US$12.5m) banknotes and US$25m (about L$4,000,000,000bn), one would come to the realization that US$25m is more in value than L$2.5bn (about US$12.5m) noting “even so, the economic paralysis created for the suffering mass of our people as a result of the actions of those former and present officials of government, are of consequential implications and require reciprocal actions.”
Momo emphasized that it is therefore grave concern that the government of President Weah would move expeditiously in the direction of effectuating arrest in the L$2.6billion amounting to US$12.5m case involving former bank Governor Milton weeks, Charles Sirleaf and others, while being reluctant on extending similar to his official.
“We recalled that both Minister Samuel Tweah and Governor Nathaniel Patray had misled Liberians in 2018 that “no money was missing”. This action by the two officials created confusion last year and might have been a calculated ploy to conceal the fact that billions of Liberian dollars printed and shipped between January 2016 and August 2018 had either disappeared from the CBL or may not have been delivered to the CBL despite having been paid for, printed and shipped to the country by crane AB. After mounting public pressures, President Weah reluctantly agreed to commission two separate investigations into the money dilemma,” he further lamented.
“Considering the time of printing and shipment being from January 2016 to August 2018, it makes no sense for Governor Patray not to be charged as done to both his predecessor and current Principal Deputy. President Weah must show fairness in this matter and not try to shield anyone linked directly to this massive robbery and economic sabotage. He must understand that Liberia will take years to recover from this wickedness.
Also, it will be provocative for President Weah and his administration to ignore the fact that US$25million (about L$4,000,000,000 billion) ordered from our national reserve to facilitate a so-called “mop-up” exercise last year was handled in a bizarre and criminal manner. We remind the President that senior members of his Economic Management Team, as revealed in the reports, designed, directed and must have exploited last year’s monetary situation to commit the crime of money laundering,” they added.
He indicated “the report of the Presidential Investigative Team (PIT) was unequivocal in stating that the TEMT/CBL (under the leadership and direction of both Tweah and Patray) failed to set standard criteria for the participation of businesses in terms of their legitimacy (eg. duly registered businesses and or tax compliance, etc.)”, and “that the principle of know your customer (KYC) was not observed throughout the mop-up exercise thereby creating the platform for illegal business dealers to clean their illegal money; something that is very grave matter that the administration should not downplay.”
Kroll Associates, Inc. identifies three risks that President Weah should not overlook; potential misapplication, potential opportunities for money laundering, and potential execution of transactions with illegal businesses.
“As revealed in the reports, Minister Tweah and the President’s Economic Management Team willfully encouraged and created the conditions for these high risks. For an economy that is already severely undermined by unchecked waves of corruption and growing loss of investigators’ confidence since the president assumed office in January 2018, this is an act of sabotage.
“While we appreciate the effort of the United States Agency for International Development USAID in the conduct of a scoping investigation into the missing billions and US$25m (about L$4,000,000,000bn) intended to mop out excess banknotes from the market, we wish to state unequivocally that the controlling issue here is just not who overstepped the bounds in the printing of the banknotes, but also who used the money and how they used the money and how they used it, or better still where is the money,” they concluded. TNR