Note: On May 3, 2017, New Democrat penned this editorial after then Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia Milton Weeks told legislators that he cannot account for L$10.7billion. His 2017 revelation seems to be the root of the current controversy regarding ‘missing billion.’
Upon his appointment as Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Mr. Milton Weeks alarmed that dishonesty and criminality are forces killing the banking sector.
While warning Commercial banks operating in the country to act in accordance with the laws and regulations governing the industry, Governor Weeks promised to clean the banking sector and prosecute fraudsters.
His vow to clean the Banks is more than one-year-old and there is nothing Mr. Weeks can point to as achievement with respect to his announced goal to protect the economy from criminals.
The only thing Mr. Weeks has done for himself since his appointment on April 16, 2016, is to build a crybaby reputation.
He complains in the morning and cries in the afternoon, weeping here and there about issues affecting the banking industry and the domestic economy and does relatively nothing to address the problems and to instill confidence in the market.
He is perhaps, the biggest laissez faire central banker in West Africa in the context of scrupulous oversight responsibilities and regulation.
The Governor’s hands-off approach has crossed the redline with potential consequences on the economy.
For instance, he presided over the printing of new banknotes with the stated intent of replacing old notes.
But nearly 10 months after the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) announced the printing of an estimated $8 billion Liberian dollars to replace old banknotes, the defaced bills are still in circulation.
Weeks would later inform a Senate inquiry (Tuesday, May 2) in Monrovia that the CBL is unable to account for L$10.9 billion dollars that are outside the banking sector.
“We have L$ 12.7 billion in circulation since the bank printed the new banknotes. The amount in circulation constitutes both the old and the new banknotes,” He said.
“L$10.9 billion are outside the banking sector but are not in circulation and are old banknotes of which some are destroyed. The banks are unable to account for such amount because it is not coming into the banks.”
Questions: Who are those individuals holding the L$10.9 billion? Organized criminals? How many old bills have been withdrawn from the market and who and how its was destroyed?
It is likely that Liberia is experiencing what occurred In June 2015, in the Federal Republic of Nigeria when six top executives in Nigeria’s Central Bank were arrested and charged following the alleged theft of the equivalent of more than $40 million United States dollars.
The suspects were accused of replacing Nigeria’s mutilated naira notes, meant for destruction, with newspaper cut into the shape of the naira notes. The newspaper was then destroyed and the old currency recycled back into the economy.
Liberia does not need a crybaby Central Bank Governor who will eloquently articulate the problems facing the economy and cannot find a solution. This is a mark of demonstrable inability to manage the economy.
The mystery L$10.9 billion requires a criminal investigation. Mr. Weeks must stand up to his mandate and protect the economy from thieves.