Finance In “Huge Fraud” -Debt Payment Checks Allegedly Recycled

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) appears to be choked in responding to alleged frauds surrounding the domestic debt payment.

On Thursday, May 25, 2017, we ran a story under the headline: “Debt Payment Fraud – MFDP Official Alleges.”

According to the story, the Senior Debt Analyst in the Domestic Debt Management Unit at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Madam Patricia P. Dixon, alarmed of alleged fraud in the payment process.

Madam Dixon who calls herself a “whistle blower,” had told the In Profile Daily that a consolidated listing was prepared to avoid issuance of fragmented checks to claimants. She further alleged that the fragmented listing that should have been canceled, was also paid after settling the consolidated listing with the same amount.

According to her, the process was carried out when current Deputy Minister for Economic Management, Alvin Attah was Assistant Minister for Debt Management.

Before the Thursday’s story, the Director of MFDP Communication Unit, Abraham Watiray said could to speak to the allegations until he got to those concerned including the Economic Management Department.

As more information continues to emerge, and the Ministry is yet to respond despite efforts being made.

Some of classified documents in our possession indicate that, after disbursing checks to claimants in line with the approved consolidated listing, checks were also paid in fragmented and in different face-value forms with same amounts.

For example, Grace Gbatu was paid in Liberian dollars (L$9,505 CHECK#18173), and the face-value in United States dollars (US$172.80 CHECK#0404114). At the time, government was taking the LD-USD rate at L$55.00-US$1.00.

The LD face-value check was part of the ‘Domestic Arrears Printed Checks’ listing and the same amount check was reissued in the USD face-value. The question is ‘where is the LD check’. This is the representation of dubious payments in the domestic debt settlement, if confirmed.

Madam Dixon has alleged that several payments were made without meeting compliance and the checks are still in the system and being recycled. She also alleged that the following payments were made without compliance. MADENYENN AND SONS TRADING, CORP US$54,285.00 and JONES Y. GBORBEA ESTATE CLAIM, US$54,000.00.

Besides, there are two incidents that unearthed the allegedly huge impropriety. One of the incidents is the New World Printing Press issue.

A check with the of L$58,030.00 (fifty eight thousand and thirty Liberian dollars) and number-021084, in the name of New World Printing Press, was en-cashed at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL). The owner of New World Printing Press, Madam Sonie M. Tealeh’s named was allegedly forged by an individual who received the money.

According to Madam Dixon, after New World reported the situation and together with officials concerned discovered the alleged scandal, they (officials) decided to pay the Printing Press on the fragmented check list (the list that was considered invalid after the approval of the consolidated listing). A check with the amount of L$27,240.00 (twenty seven thousand two hundred and forty Liberian dollars), and number-018525, was paid to New World Printing Press, from one of the single checks that had been consolidated.

Another alleged scandal is the debt payment to the Intestate of John F. Marshall (Nancy B. Doe Jakpen Town Market). The payments of two checks were allegedly made to one Edmund B. Coleman on behalf of the family when Edmund is not the administrator of the Estate and family members say they have not received a cent.

One of the checks, with the amount of US$300,000.00 and number-0010675, was issued to Edmund B. Coleman and encashed at the Central Bank of Liberia on March 14, 2016. The money was withdrawn from GOL operations USD account #: 220530000225 based on the Payment Authorization letter from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) on March 11, 2016, to the Director for Banking at the CBL. The letter bears the reference number: 24784/03/’16.

The big question is, why the ministry should have allegedly issued check to Edmund B. Coleman when Power of Attorney, written on November 18, 2013, had given Mr. Jefferson Douglas Coleman the authority to serve as administrator.

Documents in our possession indicate that the Taylor & Associates, Inc., representing the legal interest of the family, said Edmund B. Cole has denied ever receiving money on behalf of the estate.

On October 10, 2016, under the signature of Cllr. Milton D. Taylor, the law firm wrote Finance Minister, Boima S. Kamara to intervene since Edmund denied of receiving the money. But up to present, the family members said their claim has not been settled. If Edmund Cole did not receive anything from the Ministry, where did the money go or who received in the name of Edmund? If it got in the wrong hands, who is responsible? These are the question being asked as the family members continue to engage the government to settle them.

Recently, some of the family members headed by administrator, Jefferson  Coleman, converged with placards at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, to draw the public’s attention to what they described as stealing at the Ministry surrounding the domestic debt and other transactions. “Economic management becomes economic waste,” was one of the statements used on placards.

They also called on the government to respect and protect the Whistleblower Act.

Meanwhile, Senior Debt Analyst, Madam Patricia Dixon has challenged officials at the ministry to make public comprehensive reports of the domestic debt payment to prove her wrong.

When contacted via mobile on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, MFDP Communication Unit Director, Mr Abraham B. Waritay, promised that the Ministry will respond on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, since the issue was just brought to their attention.

Before going first story on Thursday, Mr. Waritay told this paper via mobile phone that the Ministry will address itself to the allegations at the appropriate time after meeting with officials in the concerned department and once the authority is given to speak to the matter. Up to press time, the Ministry remained tight-lipped, as our investigations continue…