Liberia Opposition political parties are calling for the immediate arrest of the Minister Finance, Development and Planning, Samuel Tweah and the Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia Nathaniel Patary in the ongoing ‘missing billions’ trial which has already landed five CBL officials in prison.
The four collaborating opposition political parties are mounting pressure on the George Weah government to arrest the Tweah and Patray for misappropriating US$25 million intended to mop-up excess liquidity of the Liberian dollar.
The four political parties include Unity Party, Liberty Party, Alternative National Congress and All Liberian Party, in a joint statement released Wednesday, called on President Weah to go beyond the arrests at the CBL.
“In addition to the arrests already made, the four collaborating political parties demand the government to move quickly to arrest Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, Central Bank Governor Nathaniel Patray and other ranking members of the TEMT,” said ALP Chairman Theodore Momo, who read the statement onbehalf of the four collaborating parties.
“This is in consideration of the investigations’ findings pointing to the conspicuously criminal way the Minister of Finance and Development Planning and the Central Bank Governor, as Chair and Co-Chair of the Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT) respectively, managed the US$25m (about LD$4,000,000,000b) so-called mop-up exercise of 2018.”
The satement, signed by the standard bearers pf all the parties, stressed that the report released by the Presidential Investigation Team (PIT) and Kroll Associates, Inc., show that both past and current governments are culpable in the “brazen and shameless looting”.
The opposition claims that Minister Tweah and Governor Patray should not be exempted from prosecution.
The Opposition has planned to stage a nationwide protest if the administration of President George Weah refuses to prosecute the pair.
“If these calls are not heeded and some of those directly culpable are left off the hook, we will organize a series of mass actions across Liberia to express our dissatisfaction and to let President Weah and his administration know how Liberians are growing impatient by the day.
“We want the artificial hardships imposed by bad governance to end. The waves of looting by senior members of this administration while ordinary citizens are struggling to survive must stop,” Momo averred.
The opposition is concern that officials of the former administration are being prosecuted, while current officials are being vindicated.
“It was a gross misrepresentation and even a deliberate attempt to undermine justice and misinform the people of Liberia, when the President, upon his return from Israel declared that his government has been vindicated by the PIT and the Kroll Inc. reports,” Momo asserted.
Momo questioned President Weah for publicly declaring that his government is vindicated when the two reports speak to gross inadequacy of internal controls and systems at the CBL as well as clearly pointing to fraudulent and suspicious actions and inactions of current fiscal and monetary authorities
He continued: “Specifically, the current government of President George Weah is liable for the US$25m (about LD$4,000,000,000) as clearly accentuated in the report.”
Momo argued that the “hasty and prejudicial” comment by President Weah only exposed the President’s intention to put a presidential shield of protection over key cronies of his political party whom according to him, have been hooked by the findings of the reports.
He describes the two reports as ‘unambiguous’ noting that the roles played by the current CBL administration did not fully cooperate with both Kroll Associates, Inc. and the Government-commissioned PIT.
“In other words, the reports indict both past and present CBL administrations. In fact, Kroll Associates, Inc. makes it clear that requests made to the CBL for documentation “remain outstanding” and that information provided by CBL during the review exercise was inaccurate and “incomplete,” Momo added.
In its report, Kroll Associates, Inc. informed the Government of Liberia through its Scoping Report that they discovered “discrepancies at every stage of the process” for controlling the movement of banknotes into and out of the CBL.
As a result, Momo said it makes no sense for Governor Patray not to be charged like his predecessor and current principal deputy, considering the time of printing and shipment from January 2016 to August 2018.
“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.”
Announced in President George Manneh Weah’s first nationwide address on the state of the economy in July 2018, the US$25 Million in question was intended to mop out excess Liberian dollars in a bid to stabilize the fast-declining value of the local currency against the U.S. dollars.
However, the impact of the mopping exercise has not been felt by the commoners, leaving many, especially some inclined individuals, to wonder the US$25 million was disbursed.
Some commercial banks made it clear to FrontPage Africa that they were not involved or consulted during this exercise.
True to the words of the commercial banks, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah, disclosed in an interview with ELBC/LNTV that passing the US$25 million through the commercial banks would have made no impact.
Sources familiar with the disbursement of the US$25 million confided to FrontPageAfrica that the government has been unable to clearly account for the money because the bulk of it was given to close associates of the powers that be.
It can be recalled, that both Minister Tweah and Governor Patray informed the public in 2018 that “no money was missing”, a situation that resulted to public outcry and protest from civil society groups.
After mounting public pressures, President Weah agreed to commission two separate investigations into the money dilemma.
“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,” the ALP Chairman said.
He furthered that it would be unprecedented for the same government that initially resisted calls from civil society groups, to pursue former officials for criminal prosecution.
He cautioned President Weah to avoid ignoring portion of the report that points to Minister Tweah and Governor Patray failure to set standard criteria for the participation of businesses.
Momo continued: “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”
The Collaborating Political Parties are, at the same time, calling on the United States Agency for International Development to conduct a scoping investigation into the adequate usage of the US$25M.
Moreover, they want an un-redacted version of the Kroll’s Report to be made available to the National Legislature, the custodian of people’s authority and other national institutes like the four collaborating political parties.
“Our concern is also drawn to the sequence in which the two reports were issued. To the best of our recollection the PIT investigation was commissioned in advance of the Kroll investigation as a result of mounting pressure on the government to commission an international investigation. Why was it that the issuance of the two reports came just few hours apart?” Momo stressed.
The opposition collaboration has also called for the speedy trial of former and current government officials who may be culpable as per the Koll and PIT investigations.
Meanwhile, the collaborating political parties said their move is intended to prevent the country from degenerating into a crisis of ‘cataclysmic proportions.’ “We call on the Civil Society, Religious Community, the Business Community, Labor and Trade Unions, the Liberia Marketing Association, Youth and Student Organizations, partisans and auxiliary groups of the four Collaborating Political Parties, all other Political Parties and all peace-loving Liberians at home and abroad to remain resolved and take concrete steps in protecting the integrity of our country and to hold government accountable to the people of Liberia.” Momo concluded.