A review and analysis of Liberian Government officials’ statements and interviews on what has now been duped in the press as “missing billions” indicates the cumulative position of Liberian authorities is that they have not reached a conclusion that billions of printed banknotes that arrived in the country in bags and containers via sea and air ports are missing or stolen.
Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean said in a Monday press statement that the government was investigating several consignments of money in containers and bags that arrived in the country prior to President Weah’s January 22, 2018 inauguration.
“Evidence available to the investigative team has established that the current administration was not informed about the arrival of the containers and bags of moneys into the country, ” he said.
Tuesday September 18, Information Minister Eugene Nagbe told state broadcaster ELBC: I did not say L$16billion was missing. We are checking the inflow within that period (November 2017 – August 2018). The total value of currency brought into the country is around L$15 billion dollars. The investigation has to show how much of that money was put into circulation and in the vault. So why are we apportioning blame when we have not even concluded the investigation.
Information Minister Nagbe told Voice of America on Tuesday there were no records of the containers being collected from the ports, despite several bank staff employees having written a request for pick-up on March 31.
Nagbe quoted in international media outlet: Investigators are still trying to ascertain how much money was ordered, where it was printed, how much of it eventually arrived in the country, and where it is now. The money was ordered when Sirleaf was still in power, before President George Weah took over this year.
On Thursday, September 20, Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah rejected what he calls the media misrepresentation of the information Minister that it L$16billion missing.
“How can the misinterpretation of a minister’s statement be the basis for an investigation? I got calls from international friends who said you got to be stupid in Liberia,” Tweah told OK FM.
“The total amount of money printed in Liberia in the last two years (2016-1018) is L$15billion. The investigation we called for is not about any missing billions is about establishing credibility and to account for all money trail to establish a credible basis for this new government to launch a monetary policy.”
“We’re not chasing any missing containers containing L$9 or L$16 billion. It is not possible to print L$16billion and you have L$15 of that money missing. The economy will collapse,” Tweah said.
Former Central Bank Governor Milton Weeks told the BBC he’s not aware of any missing containers of money and that the news of missing money was news to him. “ I am not aware of any missing containers, it is a mystery to me,” he said.
News of the Liberian banknotes being allegedly diverted from the central bank to unknown locations broke when Liberian journalist, Philibert Browne, told a radio talkshow that consignments of banknotes amounting to L$9billion were imported in a container and bags through the Freeport of Monrovia and Roberts International Airport but were taken elsewhere not deposited in the bank’s vault.
– Festus Poquie