MONROVIA, Montserrado – The Liberia National Police have forwarded to court the former executive governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, Milton Weeks, along with Charles Sirleaf and Dorbor Hagba, the current deputy governor for operations and the director of banking respectively.
The men are facing multiple criminal offenses and were taken to the Monrovia City Court under huge security guidance on Monday afternoon.
According to police charge sheets, the men were charged with economic sabotage; misuse of public money, property or records; illegal disbursement and expenditure of public money; criminal conspiracy; and criminal facilitation. The charges are related to the men’s roles in printing excess Liberian dollar banknotes – L$146,250,000 in the first tranche of L$5 billion in 2016 and L$359,750,000 in the second tranche L$10 billion printed in 2017.
The charges come as a result of a report released by a presidential investigation team set up by President George Weah to investigate reports of the alleged missing billions in new banknotes. According to the report, the decision to print excess banknotes cost the government an extra US$835,361.
The police charge sheets also noted that the three defendants and two other employees of the Central Bank – Richard H. Walker and Joseph F. Dennis – are criminally liable for L$2,655,000,000 brought into the country that is yet to accounted for. According to police, Walker and Dennis, who both also work at the Central Bank, remain at large.
At the court, the defendants were served their charges and informed about the provisions under the law, including their right to file separate criminal appearance bonds. Meanwhile, the defendants were ordered to be taken to the Monrovia Central Prison as they were unable to secure their respective criminal appearance bonds in time. It is unclear when their trial would commence.
Sirleaf, who is the son of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, along with Hagba, was arrested on Thursday, February 28, while Weeks was arrested on Friday. They were being held at the headquarters of the Liberia National Police.
Their arrests followed the release of the government’s investigation report into the allegedly missing banknotes on Wednesday, February 28, the same day the U.S. government through USAID released its report of an independent investigation conducted by Kroll Associates into the same missing banknotes.
Commenting on the two reports, President George Weah, who was out for a state visit to Israel when the two reports were released, told journalists upon arrival at the Roberts International Airport on Sunday that his administration knew it would have been vindicated by the two reports. Weah said he was pleased that the Liberian people now know the truth of what happened.
He praised partners, including the U.S. Embassy, for agreeing to investigate the report, adding that he wanted the citizens to know that the government is transparent. He also promised to follow the reports released both by his specially appointed team and the U.S. government.
Featured photo by Ida Reeves