Travel Ban Issued for Individuals in L$16 Billion Investigation as Former President Comments

MONROVIA, Montserrado – The Liberian government has issued a notice identifying several persons of interest in the investigation of the alleged disappearance of L$16 billion (US$104 million) in newly printed Liberian dollar banknotes from the Central Bank of Liberia.

The national security circular has advised the individuals to not leave the country: “The government says it takes the ongoing investigation seriously because it has national security implications.”

The notice adds that the government has instructed authorities at all points of entry and exit including land, borders, and seaports to take the circular seriously.

Notable individuals listed include the former Central Bank governor, Milton Weeks, and Charles Sirleaf, a current deputy governor at the Central Bank.

Lebanese businessman George Abi Jaoudi, whose group of companies dominate several sectors of the economy, was also listed, in addition to several other Central Bank employees.

The government said Weeks, the former Central Bank governor, is expected to visit the Liberia National Police headquarters on Wednesday to continue his assistance to the investigation.

Meanwhile, FrontPage Africa has reported that former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has accused the government of trying to damage her legacy. She noted that an investigation on the missing money had already been conducted by the Central Bank.

“I have been reliably informed that the Central Bank of Liberia has undertaken an internal investigation and in [a] directive from the minister of justice, provided a full report to the police,” the former president was quoted as saying, noting that the contents of the report were included in a press release that contradicts earlier statements by Information Minister Eugene Nagbe.

“This had been held for two days because the CBL governor and the minister of justice have refused to approve the release. It is most unfortunate that the GOL [Government of Liberia] would give false information that wickedly impugns the reputation of past officials and by extension, the country itself.”

In the interview, FrontPage Africa reported that Sirleaf vowed that she would ask her son, Charles Sirleaf, to resign from his post as deputy governor of the Central Bank.

Since reports of the missing money emerged, government officials have been releasing statements and giving interviews that have suggested that officials from the Sirleaf administration were responsible for the disappearance of the money.

“Evidence available to the investigation team has established that the current administration was not informed about the arrival of the containers and bags of monies into the country,” the justice ministry had noted in a press release issued on September 17.

Featured photo by Jefferson Krua

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016 and 2017, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. Zeze was also the union's 2017 Health Reporter of the Year. He is a Health Journalism Fellow with Internews.

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