Africa Liberia 

Former Liberia President’s Son Acquitted Over Missing Billions

Liberia has dropped criminal charges against Charles E. Sirleaf, the son of former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and three former officials with the Central Bank of Liberia.

The former bank officials indicted in the case were finance director Dorbor M. Hagba, director of operations Richard H. Walker, and Deputy Director of Internal Audit Joseph Dennis.

All three were charged in connection with the alleged unlawful printing of local currency worth millions of dollars that reportedly disappeared in 2018.

Former bank Governor Milton Weeks is still charges of economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy, criminal solicitation, criminal facilitation and money laundering. He was expected to appear in court this Friday to answer to the charges.

Liberian Solicitor General Sayma Syrenius Cephus says the move is in line with Liberia’s Criminal Procedure Law that give prosecuting attorney the right to file for a motion to dismiss a criminal indictment against any defendant.

“As Executive Governor, Milton Weeks was Chairman of the board, he was part of decision making and rest of the people [Sirleaf and the three acquitted] only acted based in instructions given them,” he said via telephone.

Prior to dropping the charges, Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay granted a motion for separate trials for the defendants

The missing millions scandal 

In 2018, parallel investigations were launched by both Liberia and the United States following media reports in September 2018 that a container full of newly printed Liberian banknotes, worth more than US$100million, had gone missing.

After months of investigation, business intelligence firm Kroll Associates Inc. released their findings, dismissing the suggestion that the banknotes simply went missing.

The report found that the Liberian government had approved the printing of new banknotes totalling US$5billion, but that the central bank printed surplus.

Board members to be arrested

Meanwhile, Councillor Cephus says his government will arrest and indict the Board members of the bank who authorised the printing of the money.

“Board members who authorised the printing of the L$10.5 billion, would be indicted as of Monday of next week,” he said. Initially, charges were dropped against the company that printed the money, Crane Currency of Sweden.

The affair is one of Liberia’s biggest corruption case since independence in 1847.

‘Did not see it coming’

Speaking to RFI, Sirleaf said he did not expect the charged to be dropped but said justice has been served.

“Firstly I say to God be the glory and all I can say is our President George Weah believe the rule of law and justice has been served. I didn’t anticipate anything,” he said beaming with smile.

Like Sirleaf, the rest of the defendants were happy that for once their names have been cleared.

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