Uncontrollable fake news went viral in Monrovia and its environs early today of the death news of one of those indicted by the Liberian Government on the missing billions at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) currently behind bars at the Monrovia Central Prison.
It was rumored that Charles Sirleaf, former Deputy Director for Operations at the CBL, and one of the sons of former Liberian Leader, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had died in prison due to severe illness, and further rumored that his death was a result of prison authorities to properly accept his request for the private doctor to cater to him.
This ‘Fake News’ which swamped social media was quickly put to rest when reporters contacted prison authorities publicly clarified that Mr. Charles Sirleaf was alive and not dead, and said, the only situation with Mr. Sirleaf is that he normally uses his glasses; so his glasses are given to him, all them including former Governor Milton Weeks, Dorbor Hagba, Director for Banking, Richard Walker, Director for Operations and Joseph Dennis, Deputy Director for Internal Audit were still in their respective prison cells.
Earlier, the three CBL executives were arraigned briefly at the Monrovia City Court at the Temple on Monday, March 4 and later whisked off to the Monrovia Central Prison after they failed to obtain a criminal appearance bond.
Richard Walker, Director for Operations and Joseph Dennis, Deputy Director for Internal Audit who were reported to have been on the run, were picked up by police on Tuesday and forwarded to court.
They were later taken to the Monrovia Central Prison where Weeks, Sirleaf and Hagba are detained.
The indictment was issued at the Monrovia City Court Tuesday, March 5, pending notice of assignment.
Swedish company Crane AB, the firm hired to mint the new banknotes, has also been indicted with economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy, and facilitation.
The indictment quoted several findings in the Presidential Investigation Team’s (PIT) report.The five defendants now face first degree felony, which is in violation of Chapter 15, sub-chapter “F” Sections 15.81 (a) (b) (c) and 15.82 (b)(c) of the New Penal Law of Liberia the five Central Bank of Liberia executives are to spend 10 years in a common jail.
The indictment: “That it is from the findings as contained in the report of the investigation conducted by the Presidential Investigation Team (PIT) that this indictment grows and not that of Kroll Associates Inc, though its findings are similar to that of PIT.”
The indictment drawn by the Grand Jury of Montserrado stated that between April 2016 and up to August 2018, the five Defendants while occupying various positions at the CBL conspired to defraud the CBL and the Government of Liberia when without any authority printed excess Liberia dollar banknotes amounting to 2,645,000,000 to infuse into the Liberian market and without authority paid and caused to be paid the amount of US$835,367.72 to Co-Defendant Crane Currency for said amount.
The indictment states that while state security was probing intelligence report that there was some foul play in the money being printed and brought into the country, the Hot Pepper newspaper published a story that a container containing Liberia dollar banknotes destined for the Central Bank of Liberia went missing.
Also, the indictment further that though the request of and approval for the printing of 5,000,000,000 new Liberian dollars banknotes was granted by the Legislature on May 17, 2016 Co-Defendant Charles Sirleaf had earlier executed and entered into a contract with Co-Defendant Crane Currency on May 6, 2016, 11 days before the Legislature approved the request for the printing.
According to the indictment, although the contract amount for the printing of the L$5,000,000,000 Liberian dollars banknotes was US$5,210,000 Co-Defendant Milton Weeks, Charles Sirleaf, Dorbor Hagba paid and caused to be paid to Co-Defendant Crane Currency the amount of US$5,611,469.58 an excess of US$401,469.58 when there were no side letters for the extra Liberian dollars banknotes printed as provided in the contract.
“That in the printing of the 10,000,000,000 Liberian dollars banknotes and the resulting excess therefrom without Legislative approval as herein stated in the indictment without restatement by the Defendants were also in violation of the Constitution of Liberia and the Act establishing the Central Bank of Liberia amended March 4, 2014” the indictment added.