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Liberia mystery as 'banknotes worth $60m vanish

BBC Africa/Maximilian Kasseh, Jr.

The Liberian Government says it is investigating what has happened to two huge consignments of money that were printed abroad and brought into the country between November 2017 and August this year.

The money, said to be local banknotes worth about $60m (£45.6m), has allegedly disappeared.

One media report says containers packed with the money left the port in the capital, Monrovia, under security escort in March and were thought to be headed for the Central Bank, but they vanished.

The consignment that came through the international airport cannot be accounted for either.

The Justice Ministry is asking the public to remain calm while a panel of security officers investigates the matter.

Minister of Information Eugene Nagbe has told state radio that President George Weah, who took office in January, is “unhappy” that he was not informed about the situation until now.

“This is alarming,” Mr. Nagbe said.

No arrests have been made so far, but the Information Minister says he is certain they will get to the bottom of the suspected scandal.

But in line with the recent discovery, the Liberian government has banned 15 people, including the son of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, from leaving the country while it investigates the alleged disappearance of tens of millions of dollars intended for the Central Bank, the

Ministry of Information has said in a statement.

Border posts have been informed that Charles Sirleaf, the deputy governor of the Central Bank, and Milton Weeks, the former governor of the bank, are among those barred from travelling abroad, the statement added.

Mr. Sirleaf and Mr. Weeks have not yet commented.

However, Mrs. Sirleaf was quoted by the Front Page Africa news site as saying that the bank had given "full evidence and clarification" to refute allegations that the money had disappeared.

The government has ordered an investigation into the alleged disappearance of the newly printed bank notes that had reportedly come from abroad between November last year and August this year.

"The government... takes the ongoing investigation seriously because it has national security implications," the statement added.

The statement did not say how much had allegedly gone missing. Some reports put the number at around $60m (£45.6m) and others at around $100m.

The Central Bank had flatly denied that containers packed with the money had disappeared from the port in the capital, Monrovia, Liberia's Daily Observer news site reported.

Mrs. Sirleaf, a former Nobel Peace Prize winner, stepped down as president in January after her two terms ended.

She was succeeded by former football star George Weah, following his stunning victory in elections a month earlier.


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