It is all hocus pocus in Liberia as the “broke” West African country has discovered the disappearance of $100 million worth of newly printed banknotes destined for the central bank.
The total amount is 15 billion Liberian dollars (US$97 million) and the government says it is investigating and “will leave no stone unturned to find those responsible for the act,” says Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe who is quoted by AFP.
The justice ministry started its investigation on August 8 after the government found out that the cash had arrived in containers and bags at the port and the international airport in Monrovia.
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The government said on Tuesday that it has barred 15 people from travelling outside the country including Charles Sirleaf, son of former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and former central bank governor, Milton Weeks.
Local media Frontpage Africa reported that the containers were moved from the port around the end of March by central bank staff but never arrived at their destination, cites AFP. This claim was rejected by the government saying there were no records of the containers being collected from the ports.
The government also claimed the banknotes ordered by Liberia’s central bank from printers overseas arrived between November 2017 when Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was still president and August 2018, seven months after President George Weah assumed office.
“The current administration was not informed about the arrival of the containers and bags of money into the country,” says the information ministry in a statement.
The country is suffering an economic downturn of which the president had said in March that he had “inherited a country that is very broke, depleted by political malfeasance. We have to make sure that the things that happened will not happen again.”
Weah vowed to fight corruption, but it seems it is a hard nut to crack in the country.
Meanwhile, in Nigeria, two Bombardier Dash 8 Q300 aircraft were stolen at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos where they were removed from a hangar following a legal dispute between the owners Topbrass Aviation Services Limited, a local operator, and lessor, Seagold Investment Limited.
The planes were later found in a different hangar with the registration numbers wiped off pending plans to fly out of the city. Investigations have been launched into the “stealing” of the aircraft.