Ellen’s Millions & Hidden Wealth: Nation Times Reports

(The Nation Times) – A report featured on the front page of one of the local weeklies in Monrovia, The Nation Times, has alleged that a Large-scale financial assets belonging to President Sirleaf and some of her family members are reportedly stationed in foreign banks rather than in the country she has ruled for more than a decade.

The paper in its last week’s edition captured: “Ellen’s Millions & Hidden Wealth Exposed” quoting the President’s declaration form filed with the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission in June this year, 2017 where she declared the amount of US$924,623 seated in a US based bank compared to US$59,710.72 and a little over one million Liberian dollars deposited in Liberian banks.

For months, there has been no explanation from the office of the President with respect to justification why the first family prefers saving income abroad than in home country after almost 12 years in power, thereby amassing wealth at the disadvantage of the poor.

It appears that these people are seeking financial security for their assets after the collapse of the regime.

In the post-war Liberia, corruption has been recognized as a MAJOR PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE, (16 January 2006). Also, It has been described as a VAMPIRE to development (January 26, 2015). These two descriptions were coined by Madam Ellen Sirleaf who is a 2011 Nobel Prize Laureate. The former one was when she was swearing into office in 2006, while the latter was when she was delivering her annual message to the Joint Session of the Legislature, 2015.

Besides, these two negative metaphors clearly indicate dangerousness and harmfulness of the corruption to the national development especially within the context of Liberia. Moreover, this article goes further to conceptualize corruption as a cancer that eats up sound and constructive policies, agenda and transformative goals for the nation. The standard of the development (tangible and intangible) in Liberia is an indisputable evidence of corruption being a malady that destroys the future of the nation in all its spectrums.

Further, corruption has been the major obstacle for Liberia’s development drives to be fully achieved. Hope ascertained that the culture of corruption in connection to the government of Liberia had/has an adverse impact on citizens, living standards, reduction of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), increasing mismanagement of public resources and undermining the rule of law. Besides, if one critically peruses and examines the standards of development in this nation since independence in 1847, he/she would certainly conclude that something is wrong with the whole system, especially the country is blessed with all colours of the natural resources which some have been extricated over the years. Of course, if proper financial mechanisms were in place with an effective implementation, Liberia would have been counted among the line-up of the richest and advanced nations on earth.

Civil war from 1989 to 2003 and by the recent global economic crisis, Liberia at present is one of the poorest countries in the world. Eighty-four percent of the population lives below the international poverty line (1.25 U.S. dollars/day), notably in rural areas.

With 5.2 children per woman most Liberians do not possess the means to meet the needs of their numerous offsprings. Many Liberian children don’t have access to a sufficient and balanced diet under the administration of President Sirleaf as Africa’s first female President.

Only one in four has access to drinking water, 40% suffer from malnutrition and one in five is undernourished. These diet deficiencies cause shortages in vitamins and iron, and delays in growth (weight & height) sometimes leading to death in the most severe cases.

Poverty under her rule is also the main cause, or at least an exacerbating factor, in the majority of other child right’s violations in Liberia.

Rights to Health

Due to lack of healthcare resources under President Sirleaf, many children and pregnant women never had access to hospitals and even less to treatment and medical personnel, especially in the country while her children, grandchildren and family members travel abroad for medical treatment. This explains the elevated mortality rates of infants and mothers—placing them among the highest in the world.

Because of lack of information and means of protection (contraception, medicine to prevent disease transmission from mother to child…), close to 1% of the population is carrying the HIV/AIDS virus, of which 6,000 are children younger than four. The number of children affected by tuberculosis or malaria is equally disturbing and does not seem to be diminishing.

Rights to Education

Neglected due to lack of means, even today the Liberian educational system presents numerous insufficiencies despite efforts for improvement. And despite a literacy rate of about 75% for the 15-24 year-old age group, few children pursue studies after primary school. In rural communities, some never attend school at all.

Lack of facilities and supplies along with the cost of study causes this low rate of enrollment. If education was officially free and obligatory, parents, in reality, paid for many hidden costs: pencils; uniforms; books; desks; even teachers, who are generally underpaid and undereducated. Parents who did not have enough money could not send their children to school.

In many rural communities, children are sent to receive their education in a completely isolated “bush school” (poro for boys, sande for girls) where they are educated in terms of traditions. Even as they contributed to the preservation of the cultural identity of the country, these uncontrolled educational centers were detrimental to the children’s’ education, thus making them abandon their studies and encouraging the continued practice of certain harmful culture as one of the reasons why African leaders are very corrupt. This is because they are afraid of going back to being broke or becoming average citizen after they leave power, which set a precedent for them to embezzle. Corruption is prevalent to the extent that they steal so much wealth that their next five generations can’t exhaust.

The sad part is that vast majority of the stolen wealth is kept in the western world. Many of them never live old enough to enjoy their stolen wealth. Or they end up in exile never to see much of their stolen wealth again. So is the case with Liberia’s outgoing President even while refusing to say truth surrounding wealth earned at the disadvantage of the Liberian people.

“This is how Africa has been losing billions to the developed world. These people don’t have confidence in the country after leaving power. As seen in other African countries, they fear being prosecuted and assets seized after they leave power,” said an observer.

According to the presidency website E-MANSION, the President had said the assets of family members on foreign soil are clear and subject to the stringent laws of the host country.

As declared with the LACC, the President’s aggregate wealth is placed at US$1,707,279.64. The breakdown include: L$1,645,500 as gross salary and US$72,000 in allowances; US$49,933.76 in personal checking account at IB Bank, EJS Farm account at IB Bank has a balance of L$379,502.20 , EJS personal Account: L$630,363.31 and a saving account with a balance of US$9,777.72.

In foreign accounts, President Sirleaf has savings with Bank of America in Charlotte, North Carolina in the tone of US$153,006.00 and a UNFC account has a balance of US$7,300.

For treasury bills or investment in securities, President Sirleaf recorded having US$704,314.00 with Vanguard Mutual Funds in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania and US$61,003.00 with American Funds, Los Angeles in California.

Real estate, President Sirleaf valued her current residence – a one storey building with a swimming pool and a palava hut at US$164,100. She also owns a bungalow which contains a boys quarters, palava hut and an external kitchen at Corina Park, Congo Town, valued at US$117,300; a compound with two concrete buildings in Congo Town worth US$103,000.00; a vacant family plot on Broad Street worth US$50,000; a US$77,411 residential property in Caldwell, Bushrod Island; a structure on Benson Street valued at US$44, 016; a US$56,800 bungalow on Congo Town back road.

There is a vacant 513 acres of land in Todee District, which is valued at US$51,300 and four acres of vacant land in Paynesville city.

Editor’s Note:

This article above was published by The Nation Times Newspaper, GNN-Liberia has no input what is been said or written herein

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About Cholo Brooks 17210 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.