Liberia’s central bank says $100 million is not missing from its vaults

Posted at 7:10 AM, Oct 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-03 09:10:01-04

The Central Bank of Liberia has denied losing about $100 million worth of cash printed overseas after a claim of the money’s disappearance sparked public protests and prompted an international federal investigation.

An internal audit of new notes brought into the country between 2016 and 2018 by its Swedish printers found that the monies had been placed in the bank’s vaults, the executive governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Nathaniel Patray, said Tuesday in a statement.

“The CBL has no records that monies printed under its authority have not been yet been delivered into its reserve vaults,” the statement said.

Patray also requested that the Liberian government lift a travel ban on certain central bank staff, according to the statement. The movement of more than 30 central bank officials had been restricted pending the probe, according to local news reports.

‘Bring back our money,’ protesters demand

Demonstrators have taken to the streets of the capital, Monrovia, demanding an investigation into the purported disappearance of the cash, which the country’s information minister reportedly alleged last month on local radio. The sum is about 4.75% of the nation’s GDP.

Faced with public anger and a “bring back our money” social media campaign, President George Weah ordered an investigation, saying he would “not rest until the facts are established.”

The Liberian government had requested the US Treasury, the FBI and the International Monetary Fund help with the probe, the president’s spokesman told CNN.

Former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who was in power during the period in question and whose son is the CBL’s deputy governor for operations, has not responded through a spokesperson to CNN’s request for comment.

The central bank will make available all records regarding the case for another investigation by a “reputable International Forensic Audit Firm” chosen by the Liberian government and its partners, Patray’s statement says.