ONTARIO, CANADA–-Globe Afrique’s factfinding and other ongoing reliable investigative initiatives point to Liberia being a center for drug transshipment and money laundering. These ugly activities began in 2007, a year into the presidency of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Since 2006 when Sirleaf became president, organized corruption reached a disproportional degree, with people of influence and connection to the Liberian presidency leading the chart.
From January 2017 to present, more than $ 5 billion United States dollars have been smuggled out of Liberia, mainly by government officials and their criminal cartels that include Asian, Middle Eastern and Nigerian nationals.
According to the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), in the last 12 months of 2017, more than $449 million United States dollars have been remitted outside of Liberia into the personal accounts of individuals in foreign banks.
The CBL governor, Milton Weeks, said yesterday that the trend of individual remittances displays a 70.9 percent decline in net inward personal remittances.
During a press conference in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, Governor Weeks said the 70.9 decline is, in large part, because of a substantial increase in outward personal remittances.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is expected to hand over power to a new administration after the expected December 26, 2017’s presidential runoff election between Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai and Senator George Manneh Weah, a former international soccer star.
According to reliable sources, the president and her family are accused of economic crimes and excessive corruption, an accusation she has repeatedly denied despite an indication that her family has investments and assets around the world.
Since 2006, the Sirleafs have allegedly accumulated more than $2.5 billion United States dollars, excluding other unknown assets.
The family assets include real estate and other properties in Morocco, financial interests in several institutions in place like Kenya, Ghana, Panama, the United States, Lebanon, and Switzerland.
Currently, civil servants are not getting paid and access to foreign exchange is lacking. Liberian families are struggling to make ends meet. Even families with support from relatives overseas find it difficult to obtain their remittances from money transfer offices because the banks are short on cash, especially foreign exchange.
Governor Weeks is proposing option aimed at identifying intervention strategies for positive impact.
One insider at the Liberian Ministry of Finance and Development Planning informed Globe Afrique that the next Liberian administration after President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will inherit a bankrupt nation.
The insider said, in the last six months, the president and her associates have used more than $10 million United States dollars on unspecific political activities and an additional $20 million in unknown public relations efforts. Although these allegations are yet to be confirmed independently, private banks records show payments and money transfers made to individuals and groups in Liberia and overseas by individuals connected to the Liberian president.
Another serious concern expressed by another Liberian official is that the next Liberian leader will not have an office and a residence intended for a Liberian leader. All funds allocated in the national budget every year to renovate the Executive Mansion, the official residence and office of the Liberian presidency, have been misused and unaccounted for in the past six years while the mansion remains in its same poor state.
The president has also used more than $2,000,000 United States from the finance ministry on a Special Presidential Taskforce set up to investigate the Sable Mining alleged corruption case prompted by a ‘loose’ and unsubstantiated report initiated by Globe Witness, an international watchdog group which implicated and accused prominent Liberians of receiving less than $900,000 United States dollars from a foreign company to change Liberian concession laws that were inactive or did not technically exist. To date, the task force has been unable to account for how the funds were spent.
Technically, the president used an alleged corruption case to elevate and facilitate an organized corruption that far exceeded the amount for which the task force was set up in the first place. The unanswered question is: Why will the president use more than $2 million dollars on few individuals when students are the University of Liberia do not even have a fitting science lab and while others are unable to meet their educational needs due to poverty and unemployment?
According to another source, some of the funds allocated for the task force was used to jumpstart and effect political campaigns for some individuals within the president’s inner circle. Those individual are yet to be identified.
Below are various payments made to the Special Presidential Taskforce
According to a document in the possession of Globe Afrique from the finance ministry, the funds were provided to the task force but the finance ministry has not received any documentation on how the money was used.
Sources say these various economic crimes have and continue to frighten the Liberian leader such that she is prepared to stall or mishandle the transition of power if things don’t go her way.