Liberia News: BOKAI’S AXE FALLS ON FIA BOSS …For Alleged Corruption

Monrovia-April-2-TNR:In his strive to curtail the high level of corruption in the country, President Joseph Nyumah Boakai has suspended the head of the Financial Intelligence Agency for alleged corruption.   

President Boakai has with immediate effect, suspended Mr. Stanley Ford, Director General of the Financial Intelligence Agency.

At a recent news conference in Monrovia, the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) called for the immediate suspension of Mr. Ford for his alleged involvement in a corruption scandal.

Acting immediately a day after the call from the civil society organization through its Executive Director Anderson D. Miamen, President Boakai, on Friday, March 29, 2024, with immediate effect suspended the FIA boss.

According to an Executive Mansion release, the Liberian leader took the administrative action against Mr. Ford for allegations of financial and other malpractices at the institution at the Financial Intelligence Agency.

“The President has made it clear that there is no tolerance for any form of malpractice,” the release said.

The statement added that the President has directed the Ministry of Justice to undertake a comprehensive investigation into the matter, while he expressed confidence that the investigation will ensure that justice is served.

The President further urged Mr. Ford to submit himself to the investigation and cooperate fully to make sure that the matter is resolved expeditiously.

“This move by the Liberian Leader is a clear demonstration of his commitment to upholding the rule of law and ensuring that public officials are held accountable for their actions,” the Executive Mansion noted.

CENTAL’s recent call follows a FrontPage Africa Newspaper’s publication on February 27, 2024 that the FIA, which is mandated to investigate financial crimes, is itself alleged to have been caught in the web of dubious financial dealings and crimes.

The institution also quotes the FPA’s report as saying, over one million United States Dollars was disbursed in the name of the Comptroller, including over US$500,000 withdrawn on the same day it was transferred by the Central Bank of Liberia.

Anderson D. Miamen told the news conference that another report placed the total amount involved in the scandal at over US$6 million. 

He called for the suspension of Mr. Forh and all those at the center of the saga until the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission completes its ongoing investigation into the matter, adding that their continued presence as leaders and managers casts dark shadow over the institution and neutralizes its ability to fight financial and other related crimes.

 “However, given the gravity of this corruption scandal and its implications for the work and reputation of FIA and by extension the country’s integrity sector, we strongly recommend an administrative sanction, pending the outcome of the ongoing investigation,” the CENTAL Boss said.

For CENTAL, Anderson D. Miamen stressed that these reports are not just disturbing but have the proclivity to erode citizens and development partners’ trust in institutions like the FIA clothed with the authority to fight corruption and other shady financial dealings, including money laundering.

He maintained that if not properly disposed of, these allegations could hamper the credibility of the institution, including the outcomes of sanctions and other efforts made to enforce their very important mandate.

“For example, fines imposed on insurance companies, banks, gaming companies and other entities for violation of financial procedures could face stiff challenges. Also, responsible institutions might hesitate to make suspicious transaction reports to FIA, as required by its 2022 amended act,” the Executive Director of the institution noted.

CENTAL notes multiple occasions during which FIA sanctioned individuals and institutions accused and investigated for alleged dubious financial dealings and money laundering, similar to that which the current leadership is accused of.

“For example, in 2021, granting a motion filed by FIA, the Presiding Judge of Criminal Court C ordered the proceeds of over US$234,000 confiscated and transferred to the General Revenue Account of Liberia,” the statement from CENTAL read.

According to Mr. Miamen, the company at the center of the saga, Korlane Investment Limited Liability Company and its corporate owners were investigated by the FIA for alleged wire fraud and money laundering.

“The very FIA with a mandate to fight such a crime cannot be at the center of similar and even more egregious incidents; it thus needs timely and appropriate action (s) from the leadership of the Country,” he indicated.

At the same time, CENTAL Executive Director has encouraged the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission to timely complete her ongoing investigation into the matter as well as provide regular updates to the public.

Anderson D. Miamen further urged institutions and individuals leading anti-corruption efforts to set very high standards for others to follow, both in and out of government.

He emphasized that the latest incident at the FIA does not only damage the entity’s reputation but affects the morale of staff that is working diligently and may sometimes sacrifice to perform their assigned responsibilities.

“President Boakai must act and do so now if stakeholders must have the required level of confidence in and continue to do business with the Financial Intelligence Agency of Liberia,” Mr. Miamen stressed.

Meanwhile, the Liberian Chief Executive has only suspended the head of the Financial Intelligence Agency, Stanley Ford even though CENTAL has called for the suspension of all those at the center of the saga until the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission completes its ongoing investigation into the matter.

Mr. Anderson Miamen believes the continued presence of those linked individuals as leaders and managers casts dark shadow over the institution and neutralizes its ability to fight financial and other related crimes.

It is unclear as to whether this portion of CENTAL’s will be acted on by the President considering his initial step by suspending Mr. Ford.

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