The stunning story of Liberia’s missing money keeps getting worse, with government officials now saying that more than USD$103.4 million disappeared from its central bank. It’s a loss that’s been under investigation since August, and represents a jaw-dropping 5 percent of Liberia’s 2017 national GDP.
That’s up from about $60 million reported earlier this week, when Front Page Africa first reported the news that the shipment of new bank notes printed in Sweden, China and Lebanon was somehow lost. It also appears there are questions over initial statements that stress the money was transported before President George Weah took office, during the tenure of outgoing president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
On Monday, the Liberian Ministry of Justice said the Liberian National Police, National Security Agency and Financial Intelligence Unit began their inquiry last month. They were tasked to investigate “information surrounding the arrival of containers and bags of money” through the port of Monrovia and Roberts International Airport. The ministry added that the Weah administration knew nothing about it.
But since then Front Page Africa said it has documents demonstrating that the money was delivered to the Central Bank of Liberia in February and March 2018. That contradicts the official statement of the Ministry of Justice, even as Johnson Sirleaf rejects as “wicked” any finger-pointing at her administration.
As Liberia sorts out what happened, a list of “persons of interest” under travel restriction has been publicly released. They include former central bank president Milton Weeks and bank operations director Charles Sirleaf, the former president’s son who has been the target of corruption inquiries in the past.
To see the Front Page Africa investigative report, check this link.
Image: Central Bank of Liberia