Probe reveals “missing” Liberian cash was safely deposited

Hundreds of protestors took to the streets of Monrovia last October
Liberians hold a banner during a demonstration over the disappearance of newly printed bills, on September 24, 2018, in the capital Monrovia. – The cash, nearly $100 million, was officially destined for Liberia’s central bank after arriving in the country at an unspecified time between last November and August this year, but has vanished without trace. (Photo by Zoom DOSSO / AFP)

A probe by independent investigators on Thursday said that a stockpile of cash printed for the Liberian Central Bank had been safely deposited, dismissing rumours that it had gone missing.

Hundreds of protestors took to the streets of Monrovia last October when rumours swirled that newly-printed Liberian dollars worth US$102 million (89 million euros), intended for the country’s reserves, had disappeared shortly after arrival from abroad.

The tale touched at the heart of the country’s endemic corruption, which newly-elected President George Weah had vowed to combat.

The United States then stepped in at the request of the Liberian government and civil society groups, sponsoring an inquiry by the corporate investigation firm Kroll Associates Inc.

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“Kroll’s analysis of delivery documentation provided by the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) confirms that new banknotes totalling 15.506 billion Liberian dollars were received into the CBL’s reserve vaults,” the US embassy said in a statement on Thursday.

“Kroll found no information to support allegations that a container of banknotes went missing,” it said.

However, the investigators raised “concerns regarding the overall accuracy and completeness of the CBL’s internal records,” the statement said.

“The report identifies systemic and procedural weaknesses at the CBL, and identifies shortcomings in Liberia’s fiscal and monetary management processes that are longstanding and continue to the present day.”

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The CBL had insisted that the money had not gone missing, and Weah — confronting his first major test since taking office in January 2018 — vowed he would not rest until the issue was resolved.

The rumours spread after Information Minister Eugene Lenn Nagbe said the new government had not been advised of the impending arrival of the money by the outgoing administration.

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