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Thursday, June 20, 2024

LIBERIA: GOVERNOR TARLUE’S RESPONSE TO SMART NEWS’ 2M EUROS SCANDAL REPORT IS A TRAVESTY – AS PRESSURE MOUNTS ON HIM TO COME CLEAN

Date:

MONROVIA – Pressure is mounting on the Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia to come clean after a bizarre and embarrassing rebuttal to Smart News investigation in which he is accused of allegedly covering up a two million euros scandal.

Background

Smart News reported that the Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia Aloysius Tarlue is accused of allegedly covering up individuals who allegedly squandered two million euros in a business transaction between a Liberian-registered gold mining company and a prominent international firm.

A two years investigation into the transaction revealed that some Liberians, including some allies of President George Weah, allegedly lured some investors to Liberia with the aim of investing in the mining sector.

It is alleged the Liberians managed to dupe the investors of two million euros which was intended to register and establish a local office of the international firm in Monrovia.

According to the investigation, someone posing as a junior brother of President George Weah and others who had travelled from Liberia, met with officials of Candy Group International (CGI) in Abidjan, Ivory Coast with the aim of luring them to form a joint venture with the Liberian mining firm to invest in the mining sector of the country.

CGI was said to be represented by its subsidiary IFG TCHAD.

Sources from Candy Group International said the company signed a contract worth millions of euros with the Liberian mining company (name withheld).

It is alleged that the deal was signed in the offices of a supposed Advisor to Liberian President George Weah, identified as Ousemane Bamba.

According to documents in the possession of Smart News, a few weeks after signing the contract, investors from Candy Group International allegedly wired 2 million euros to the Liberian firm’s account at the Guarantee Trust Bank for the purpose of establishing a local office in Monrovia.

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President George Manneh Weah and right-hand man, Ousemane Bamba

Documents obtained by Smart News revealed that the days after the money was allegedly transferred from Barclay’s Bank in London to the Guarantee Trust Bank in Monrovia in favor of the Liberian company, GT Bank and the Liberian company have since refused to acknowledge receipt of the funds.

And that every time CGI pushes Gt Bank and the Liberian firm, they would deny ever receiving the money. GT Banks says, the money has not hit their account and the local firm says it has not received the funds; thus leaving the investors in limbo.

Lawyers representing the investors say GT Bank and the Liberian Company have all denied the money ever landed in the country; despite legitimate transfer papers and tracking documents provided to them.

Sources told Smart News that in the further quest to retrieve the money, Lawyers of the investors wrote the Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia Mr. Jolue Aloysius Tarlue, Jr., who allegedly refused to acknowledge receipt of their complaint non take action against the local bank.

However, after months of investigation, investigators were able to obtain documents from the Governor stating the money did not come to Liberia, despite available evidence, the money actually arrived in the country.

Two officials in Governor Tarlue’s office have admitted written a letter to former Solicitor General Sayma S. Cephus who was investigating the case informing him the money did not arrive in the country.

Sources alleged Governor Tarlue may have deliberately misinformed investigators in the case.

Central Bank of Liberia Governor’s Rebuttal

The Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) categorically refuted Smart News story, published April 10, 2023, that said the governor is accused of covering up in the scandal.

The CBL in a rebuttal statement considers the report misleading and an effort that circumvented the facts.

The CBL explained that by also claiming that “Executive Governor Tarlue refused to acknowledge receipt of complaint nor took action against the local bank and may have deliberately misinformed investigators” in an alleged €2 million Euros bank transaction is misleading and false.

The CBL in its rebuttal clarifies that on April 27, 2021, it received a communication from former Solicitor General (SG), Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephas, requesting Executive Governor Tarlue to provide information regarding an alleged bank transaction between Candy Group International and Hamak Mining Company. The transaction purportedly occurred between Citi Bank, UK, and the Guaranty Trust Bank Liberia Limited (GTBLL).

The CBL said in response to the former SG’s letter, Executive Governor Tarlue clarified that the CBL had no corresponding banking relationship with Citibank, UK, which means that Citibank, UK, cannot transact or do business directly with the CBL.

The response further stated that the Bank did not have records of any transaction between Candy Group International and Hamak Mining Company. Smart News, the CBL noted, instead reported that the Bank denied the funds being wired to Liberia.

The CBL argued that it is important for Smart News to know that the Central Bank does not keep or have records of transactions between private companies or individuals and their commercial banks, whether local or international.

CBL: Despite the facts provided in CBL’s response to the former SG regarding the alleged transaction, Smart News opted to report, what it described as a misleading story without a full appreciation of CBL’s operations.

CBL says contrary to the website report, the Executive Governor did not receive communication from any lawyers said to have represented the Candy Group International, and neither did the Bank receive findings of any investigations upon which it failed to act.

The CBL in its rebuttal assures the Liberian people of its unflinching commitment to building a strong and credible financial system. The Bank encourages Smart News to make the efforts to properly investigate the operations of the banking system to avoid such misleading reporting intended to bring the CBL into public disrepute.

Additional Information

Smart News insists that the Governor has done nothing to give justice to the Candy Group International. Even though Governor Tarlue claimed it did not receive complaints from the lawyers representing CGI, it also did nothing to find out whether the allegation made against GTBank is correct, when he received all documents regarding the transfer.

The Governor requested for relevant documents on the transfer that would serve as a basis for the investigation of the case by the CBL. The transfer documents which included the Swift Code report and Tracking Code were given to the Governor by investigators. Yet the Governor did nothing.

In fact, an official in the office of the Governor during an interview with Smart News, embarrassingly admitted that the CBL got no means of monitoring money transfers into the country.

The official told Smart News that CBL only depends on reports from the very commercial banks to form its own report.

But Central Bank of Liberia insiders told Smart News that there is a department at the CBL that is responsible for that. It is the Payment Systems Department.

The Payment System Department’s (PSD) mission is to ensure the overall efficiency, effectiveness, and integrity of the National Payment System.

The objectives of the PSD, among other things, is to direct and facilitate the evolvement of the payment systems in the country so as to provide for the needs of the economy; Provide a secure, robust and efficient settlement mechanism to facilitate inter-bank funds transfers;

Address risks that could jeopardize the soundness of the national payment system and impede commerce;

Ensure that services offered to systems participants are cost-effective, efficient and conform to international best practices.

Our source said the Payment Systems Department Provides analysis to inform policy for payments, clearing and settlements systems in Liberia;

Ensures appropriate laws and regulations are in place for the systems;

Monitors designated payments and securities settlement systems in accordance with established legislation, rules, procedures; ensures that the designated payments and securities settlement systems comply with internationally accepted practices, standards and principles for risk management and efficiency;

Oversees all payment and securities settlement systems directly managed by the CBL; monitors banks and financial institution’s use of the systems;

Oversees retail payment systems operated by private bodies, including the National Electronic Payment Switch (NEPS), etc.

Experts say, with this department, CBL has the ability to know what comes into the country and goes out of the country through commercial banks.

And that for Governor Tarlue and his staff to suggest the CBL does not have information on financial transactions going in and out of the country, amongst private people in the banks is simply a travesty.

Pressure is mounting on the Governor to use the bank transfer and Swift Tracking Code in his possession to probe the scandal as a means of saving the already bad image of Liberia on the International Scene regarding the duping of investors.

Experts are also calling on the Board of Governors of the Central Bank of Liberia to launch an investigation into the scandal. More reports will follow later.

smartnews
Smart News Liberia is an online news outlet and a product of Smart Media Group Inc. Our website, smartnewsliberia.com, covers a broad spectrum of news content. For inquiries or information, you can reach us at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or email us at smartnewsliberia@gmail.com or info@smartnewsliberia.com.

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