Finance tightens ‘Screws’ …. Comptroller says it is US$30,000

MONROVIA- The Ministry of Finance Development  and  Planning(MFDP) has put into place more stringent measures as it conducts investigations into the unaccounted amount of US$30,000 and not US$6M as earlier reported.

It was reported on Saturday that  what is believed to be a syndicate at the Ministry  of Finance Development and Planning-MFDP and other financial institutions has been defrauding government  of several thousands dollars.

Mr. Wolokolie

The latest occurred at the GN  bank  when about LD$6M  and US$68,000 were  withdrawn at various branches of the bank from the “Unapplied Account”,  But its Clara Town branch was the main point of withdrawal, due  to its strong liquidity base.

The syndicate, according to sources at the NSA,   has been operating for sometime on the   “Unapplied Accounts” at various commercial banks in the country.

But recently, the office of the Comptroller General-Janga A. Kowo, suspected suspicious transactions; which prompted him to invite the National Security Agency-NSA to conduct investigations.

“Due to rigid monitoring policy we instituted here , it led us to uncover this act. It could have been more if we had not put into place   some of those measures. Maybe it has been ongoing for years. We met some of those people(who are under investigation) here and we did not want to remove them,” Mr. Kowo told this paper late Saturday.

 “Based on our invitation, the NSA came in and started to conduct its investigations. Up to now, a number of  employees have been arrested  here and that of GN Bank, which is in question.

“Unapplied Account” is a special Government of Liberia account established to effect payments to government employees.

Prior to the discovery of this ‘syndicate’, some  officials  of the Ministry of Finance paid several visits to the bank-GN Bank to carry out investigations Finance  Ministry source said.

Those accounts are owned by the Ministry of MFDP for the purpose of salaries that are not credited to employees’ account and later  returned to the government due to either, account  name mismatch, wrong account number, duplicated entries, etc on the payroll, and rejected by bank  system as invalid during automated processing. 

He said the amount in questions, which is missing from government’s account, is about L$6m(about US$30,000) and  not US$6M as was earlier reported.  Sources at the bank confirmed the amount.

He said, that they are waiting for the outcome of the investigations from the NSA before they know the next course of action. “But for now, we do not want to say anything. What we have done here is to put into place a tighter and rigorous procedures here.

A source close to the investigation said, they are expected to release their report shortly.  “My intel told me that they have gone far with the investigations and should give their report soon.”

The source confirmed that two check books were missing from the Ministry which were used to forge the signatures of officials at the Ministry to withdraw. But  the Ministry has informed   to cease all transactions on said account.

Mr. Kowo

Mr. Kowo said, as a person from transparency background(he previously worked with the General Auditing Commission as one of its senior auditors), he was concern about public funs.

“When it comes to public money,  we have to be very careful. Every penny must be accounted for at this ministry. We will do everything to get to the bottom of this matter. Maybe this has been ongoing for sometime,” he said.

In relations to expenditure, the Deputy minister for Expenditure at the Finance Ministry, Mr. Samora Wolokolie told New Republic by phone Saturday that, he was concerned about the transactions. He however could not deny nor confirm the missing of check books. He added, that it was unfortunate that the person at Treasury, could not be vigilant.

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