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Int’l Financial experts concerned about Liberian lawmakers receiving a bribe to authorize the printing of new banknotes

NEW YORK – Several experts in the global financial market are quietly raising serious concerns about Liberia’s financial conditions, distortion of monetary policy, and the lack of clear viability of the country’s financial system.

These concerns, according to a Wall Street analyst, “appear to result from the ineptitude and unethical tenets of the majority of the members of Liberian legislature who use bribery and corruption as a benchmark for passing resolutions aimed at establishing a remedy for monetary policy” in an already fragile financial and economic atmosphere.

In addition, some top and mid-level executives on Wall Street who chose to remain anonymous said credible information that lawmakers in Liberia received a bribe of US$5,000 to approve and authorize a resolution to print of L$34 billion dollars’ banknotes is appalling and dangerous for the international and regional financial markets of which Liberia is a part.

One senior financial manager in New York said a country’s legislature should pass resolutions about monetary policy based on economic analysis and the merit for such requests.

In the past few weeks, multiple and credible sources have revealed that the national legislature of Liberia –both the Liberian Senate and the House of Representatives – received a bribe of US$5,000 each to authorize the printing of new banknotes for the country.

Members of the Liberian Senate

Although the Liberian Constitution, Article 34, C empowers the national legislature with the “express authority” to approve the printing of new banknotes as a part of their constitutional mandate, the recent legislative action that approved a resolution to print the l$34 billion dollars’ banknotes had no ethical merits.  

Therefore, passing a resolution based on bribery violates the very trust and confidence the Liberian people repose in the legislative body.

Members of House of Representatives – Liberia

After the resolution was approved, the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) in a statement assured Liberians and the country’s international partners that the Legislative approval which authorizes the Bank to print L$34.0 billion Liberian dollars “will ease the liquidity situation in the country, the procurement process relating to the printing,

shipment, and delivery of the money will be implemented in conformity with transparent, accountable and credible procedures as well as in strict adherence to national laws, internal regulations.”

However, the CBL’s press statement did not provide clarity as to why such an amount of action is required at this time when national and international investigations into an alleged L$16,000 billion dollars, which was printed prior to the 2017 presidential and general election has not been resolved or fully clarified.

In fact, Globe Afrique has been reliably informed that the amount printed prior to 2017 exceeded L$16,000 billion dollars as reported. 

The additional printed monies were not intended nor delivered to the CBL but instead printed and allegedly delivered to political operatives for political campaign purposes.

The concerns of the global financial professionals are contingent upon the interrelationship of financial markets since, according to them, there is a strong relationship between financial markets globally.

Another analyst in the UK said Liberia needs to become a responsible member of the financial market because uncertainty and corruption in monetary policy hamper regional and global markets, and in most cases, can have particularly bad effects since the chances of money laundering are likely under such circumstances.  

He said no country would value the local Liberian currency if it is not regulated appropriately and if Liberian lawmakers are in the business of passing monetary resolutions without any necessary basis to print new currencies.

Legislative corruption is not new to Liberia, especially during the past 15 years.  The previous Liberian government under the then Unity Party (UP) administration escalated bribery and corruption in the Liberian legislature at an astronomical rate, with almost every major resolution being approved through legislative bribery.

For example, during the 12-year rule of the UP-led government under President Weah’s predecessor, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Liberian government attracted around $15 billion in foreign investments, according to a finance ministry report.

Several watchdog groups, including Transparency International and Global Witness, have criticized the Liberian legislature for passing and approving resolutions based on bribery.

House Speaker Hon. Bhofal Chambers

The watchdog groups have all criticized the national legislature for signing away much of the country’s public land to logging, palm oil, and natural rubber companies at the disadvantaged of the Liberian people.

In fact, several local audit reports and international findings also revealed that more than 90 percent of all concession agreements signed and approved in Liberia from 2007 to now is faulty and were signed and approved, in part, due to legislative corruption and bribery.

When incumbent Liberian President George Weah assumed office in 2017, he ordered a review of all major concession agreements entered into by previous Liberian administrations, including that of the UP-led government.

In a statement from the presidency, the Weah government said a committee would “review and ensure that all contracts entered into by the government of Liberia and concessionaires are executed according to agreed principles in accordance with the laws of Liberia.”

President of the Liberian Senate Albert Chie

To date, the work of that purported committee remains unknown.

Transparency and accountability, especially those pertaining to fiscal and economic undertakings, seem to be a major weakness for successive Liberian administrations over the past few decades. 

Globe Afrique has made all efforts to verify the recent bribery allegation from the leadership of Liberian legislature, but all efforts proved unsuccessful as of yet. 

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Blama G. Konuwah

Blama G. Konuwah resides in Vancouver, Canada. He is a public issues analyst and senior contributor to Globe Afrique.
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