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LIBERIA: Ex-President’s Son Charged In Currency Printing Scandal

By Published March 05, 2019

The Monrovia City Court has sent former president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s son, Charles Sirleaf and three others arrested for the unlawful printing of local currency worth millions of U.S. dollars to jail after their legal team failed to secure a bond of L$5.29 billion.

Charles Sirleaf and former Central Bank governor Milton Weeks, face a multitude of charges, including economic sabotage, the misuse of public money and criminal conspiracy.

They were arrested last Thursday and held at Monrovia Central Prison pending their court appearance.

Their arrests came after a government report and a separate U.S. commissioned report pointed to the mishandling of billions of Liberian dollars in local banknotes.

According to the U.S. backed report, Liberia’s central bank unlawfully ordered three times the number of bank notes it had been authorized to print, money that it can’t wholly account for.

Sirleaf was a deputy governor at the country’s central bank during the period but denied any wrongdoing.

The U.S. Embassy in Monrovia commissioned a U.S.- based firm Kroll Associates to carry out the probe following reports in August that about $100 million worth of Liberian bank notes had disappeared, an amount equal to nearly 5 percent of the West African country’s GDP.

Kroll said its investigation found no evidence of a large shipment of cash going missing as had been reported by local media. Instead, the new bank notes are said to have arrived from a Swedish company but the central bank then failed to properly track what was done with them. The report said most of the bank notes are believed to have been put into circulation without authorities removing and destroying the old bills they were designed to replace.

It said officials at the central bank had not cooperated in explaining who approved the injection of new bank notes without removing the old ones.

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