MONROVIA, Montserrado â€“ The Concerned Citizens United to Bring Our Money Back, also known as COCUBOMB, has praised the United States government for its intervention to investigate Liberiaâ€™s reported missing billions.
On September 21, COCUBOMB led a group of Liberians in a peaceful protest in Monrovia to pressure the government to account for L$16 billion (US$204 million) newly printed banknotes that reportedly went missing after being printed and brought to the country between February 2017 and August this year.
The group also petitioned the international community through the United Nations, European Union and U.S. Embassies to, among other things, launch an independent investigation into the reported missing billions and cease aid to the government until the money was accounted for.
The government also earlier announced that it requested the assistance of international experts including the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the International Monetary Fund.
On October 10, the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia issued a release disclosing that USAID had reached out to independent, internationally recognized firms with specialization in forensic investigations to conduct a scoping mission that could ascertain the basic facts of the alleged missing currency and determine to what extent a broader mission would be needed.
The embassy noted that such a report from independent investigators would be most credible and effective to determine the scale of the problem. The embassy said it would also be an appropriate means of U.S. support to understand the allegations and facts.
In a release signed by its executives, COCUBOMB extolled the international community for standing with Liberians in pursuit of public accountability, integrity, and transparency.
â€œWe commend the U.S. Government, U.N., A.U., E.U. and ECOWAS for judiciously acting in the best interest of the Liberian Republic by taking full charge of this investigation,â€ the release read.
The group disclosed in its release that from the very beginning of its inception, the government of President George Weah had been â€œinsincere, inconsistent, and incoherentâ€ in managing the incident, which they said could have unintended socioeconomic and political consequences.
â€œEven up-to-date, we cannot trust key functionaries of this government because they continue to release conflicting accounts that are loaded with falsehood,â€ the group added.
The group is, however, appealing to the international organizations to investigate the reported rapid and suspicious acquisitions of large properties by President George Weah and other high-ranking public officials.
The coalition also pushed for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court in the country.
â€œAs we remain hopeful of a credible outcome of this ongoing investigation, COCUBOMB would appreciate a weekly update from the independent international panel of forensic investigators as the process unfolds,â€ it added.
â€œThis will help to prevent public suspicions/speculations and keep the Liberian populace regularly informed and even more confident about the veracity of the investigation.â€
The group encouraged the international community to hire only international forensic financial firms that have no link to or interest in Liberia. It believes that the full involvement of the international partners would add more value to the investigation.
â€œCOCUBOMB will remain proactively engaged with all international partners to ensure full accountability of this missing US$16 billion,â€ it noted.
â€œWith unhindered audacity and patriotism, we shall remain relentless in this national pursuit to ensure that those who viciously siphoned and pillaged the peopleâ€™s money are made to account in accordance with the Rule of Law. On this note, we call on all Liberians to exercise restraint as the International Community independently probes this matter.â€
The group also reassured the international community of its firm commitment to upholding peace and stability.
Featured photo by Jefferson Krua