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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Liberia: Searching Transitional Notes for Disputed $40 Million Involving Central Bank

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Senators Tuesday ordered its committee on Public Accounts and Audit along with the Banking and Currency Committee to probe the state of the country’s financial position following differing statements from President Joe Boakai and his predecessor George Weah regarding the government closing account balances at the point of transition.

The committees will be reviewing bank statements covering the disputed period to determine the fact and report findings to the Senate plenary session on 6 February.

President Joseph Boakai told Lawmakers Monday he inherited $20. 5 million United States in government’s consolidated accounts at the Central Bank of Liberia.

This pronouncement contrasts those of his predecessor who told the nation in his farewell speech on Jan 21 that he left $40 million United States dollars in government’s accounts at the Bank.

“The net international reserves position reported at the end of December 2023 was US$220 million. The report of US $40 million as the GoL’s consolidated account balance as at January 19, 2024 is not supported by the fact,” Boakai said.

“The balance reported by the CBL as of the same date was US$20.5 million, highly encumbered, not US$40 million.”

“Establishing the true balance in the consolidated accounts as of the aforementioned dates supports transparency and accountability and is probably one of the most important economic governance issues for our country at this time as the country welcomes a new administration,” Gbarpolu County Senator Amara Konneh, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee said in a letter to CBL Executive Governor Aloysious Tarlue.

“Therefore the both committees would like to request that you please provide the following information by end of day on Wednesday Jan. 31, 2024:

Government of Liberia consolidated account balances in USD and Liberia dollars as of January 17, 2024 and January 19, 2024 at the Central Bank of Liberia, supported by appropriate bank statements and minutes of all meetings the CBL had with the Joint Presidential Transitional team. “Government revenue account balances for the same period and for the calendar year ended Dec. 31, 2023.”

Between 2018-2020 the central bank was beset by strings of scandals leading to three former senior officials of CBL, including a son of ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf being charged with seven counts of corruption following a probe into the disappearance of about $100 million in cash that was printed abroad. All accused were set free after a court hearing determined what happened
to containers of Liberian dollars that were brought into the country between 2016 and 2018 under the
then Unity Party administration.

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