MONROVIA, Montserrado – The new Central Bank of Liberia’s executive governor-designate, Aloysius Tarlue, told senators on Thursday, Dec. 5 that he will work to restore public trust in the banking sector in the aftermath of a series of scandals involving the bank.
Tarlue, whose appointment followed a mandatory “age-related” retirement requirement by another recently appointed former governor, Nathaniel Patray, was speaking during his confirmation hearing at the Liberian Senate.
At the hearings, Tarlue sought to convince senators he was the right man for the job by revealing how he intends to improve administrative governance at the bank, restore monetary independence, and introduce policies geared towards urgently stabilizing the foreign exchange rate, keep inflation in check, and aid in the restoration of the country’s broken economy.
The executive governor-designate, whose appointment was widely criticized on grounds that he lacks adequate qualification and experience, appeared to have harmed his own case when he presented senators with an outdated version of his curriculum vitae.
Sen. Gbleh-Bo Brown of Maryland was one of the senators highly critical of the nominee. Brown quickly pointed out that although Tarlue told the Senate he had 17 years of experience working in the banking sectors in the United States, Germany, and Great Britain, his CV included no individual references of specific persons in those institutions.
“You told us you worked for all these institutions, but why there is no references in your CV that we could contact if we want to counter check,” Brown asked. Furthermore, the Maryland senator asked why the executive governor-designate still maintains a U.S. phone number, instead of a Liberian number.
The list of senators critical of the nominee’s CV and overall presentation at the hearings quickly grew. At the end of the hearing, they included senators Henry Yallah of Bong, Oscar Cooper of Margibi, and Darius Dillon of Montserrado.
Sen. Yallah described the nominee’s handling of his CV as “reckless” and reflective of lack of attention to details. Tarlue had no choice but to openly apologize to the senators.
Tarlue’s has an undergraduate degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration from Kean University in New Jersey. Tarlue revealed that he worked for several prestigious banking institutions, including the U.S. largest bank, JP Morgan Chase, the sixth-largest in the world.
But many senators were not impressed, given what they perceived to be his extreme lack of experience in central banking.
It is hoped that Tarlue’s appointment as bank governor will help address lapses identified by the General Auditing Commission report and other independent investigations into a botched printing of new banknotes, and discrepancies associated with a failed US$25 million “mop-up” exercise. Both incidences revealed “a major lack of systems and controls” at the Central Bank, which are yet to be fully addressed.
President George Weah, when appointing Tarlue, questioned the ability of the bank’s present leadership to effectively revamp its internal mechanisms, and provide greater accountability and professionalism.
Tarlue identified poor currency operations, regulatory ineffectiveness, and weak internal audit as key challenges at the bank that have negatively impacted compliance; and sought to assure senators he will promote soundness of the banking sector by strengthening the bank’s supervisory functions.
“Regarding achieving the financial sustainability of the CBL, we will undertake a strategic and functional review of the CBL’s operations. If the CBL cannot fix itself I believe it cannot help fix the country’s monetary challenges,” he said.
Despite Tarlue’s assurances to senators, it remains unclear how each member of the Finance and Banking Committee will vote, or whether a subsequent hearing will be called as doubts about his qualification continue to mount.
Featured photo by Jefferson Krua