Liberia: Missing Billion Report Out February

In his second State of the Nation Address on Monday January 28, 2019, Liberian President George Manneh Weah disclosed that the investigation report on the alleged nearly US$16 billion will be released by the end of next month (February).

The report to be released is the one by the national technical investigation panel, which includes the Ministry of Justice, the Central Bank of Liberia, the National Security Agency, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, the Liberia National police, among others.

The national panel of inquiry was conducting its investigation as the international Panel led by the United States as was requested by the Liberian government was doing a forensic investigation.

Cross section of the audience at the Capitol Building

US Ambassador to Liberia Christine Elder late last year informed the media that the fact-finding aspect of that probe had been completed on the ground in Liberia and that the international team had returned to the US to compile its report.

The US envoy said the report would be out after the year end festive season, promising the Liberian people that both the Liberian government and the US Embassy had committed themselves to making the report public.

The Liberian leader has threatened to deal with any official linked to any improprieties or willful malfeasance “if established” by the national missing billions investigation panel.

“The full weight of the law will be brought to bear,” President Weah threatened as he did last year in the findings from the NOCAL bribery scandal prompted by a Global Witness revelation. In that report a local panel recommended punitive actions for present and former officials who took tens of thousands of US dollar to award an oil contract.

In his State of the Nation address on Monday, President also disclosed that the amount now used out of US25m set aside by the CDC government to effect a mopping up exercise on the local Foreign Exchange market has jumped to US17 million by December 2018.

Finance Minister Samuel Tweah had earlier said many weeks ago that some US$15 million had been used to intervene in the money market by dishing out the hard currency to money exchanges at Forex Bureaus in New Kru Town and other communities.

On January 11, 2019, a report from New York published by Globe Afric said: “In the wake of financial and budgetary scandals and the lack of accountability in Africa, international financial security experts say there are possible reasons to fear that the US$25 million dollars which the Liberian authorities claimed its finance ministry infused into the country’s economy without any trace and accountability during its inflationary saga probably fell in the hands of Hezbollah financiers in West Africa.”

The balance seven million US dollars, President Weah announced will be reserved and used as an investment fund.

Meanwhile, Liberia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) slightly increased in 2018 to 13.4% as opposed to 13.1% experienced in 2017, according to President Weah.

In his State of the Nation address, the Liberian Chief Executive announced that despite the ongoing economic stress, the country’s Banking system remains resilient.

President Weah also said while Liberia has made some progress in the financial sector, none performance loans remain a major challenge.

Repeating his inaugural address mantra, “Liberia is opened for business,” he promised that the government will pay its debt.

The international football icon-turned politician then assured the banking sector that his government is committed to settling government debt owed from previous administrations