International

Liberia Investigates $104M In Missing Bank Notes

The Justice Ministry in Liberia announced on Thursday (Sept. 20) that it is investigating $104 million in newly printed bank notes that disappeared.

According to news from The Wall Street Journal, citing authorities in Liberia, the bank notes were for the central bank. If the disappearance turns out to be fraud, the amount would be equal to 5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Authorities confirmed that 15 officials, including the son of Nobel Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the former central bank governor, were being investigated and were prevented from leaving Liberia.

The Central Bank ordered the Liberian dollars from a printer that is located overseas, but the money went missing between November and August. While the funds was cleared through Liberian customers, they never ended up at the headquarters of the central bank.

Some analysts warn the incident could hurt the political climate in Liberia — nine months after the first peaceful government transition in 70 years, reported the Wall Street Journal.

“Expectations are high after last year’s elections,” Musa Ziamo, a Monrovia-based independent analyst, told the newspaper. “Masses are very anxious, and many are facing economic hardship.”

Frank Weeks, the former central bank governor who left his role in March, told the paper he wasn’t aware the money was missing during his tenure, while Sirleaf’s son Charles couldn’t be reached for comment.

The missing money in Liberia comes at the same time that Danske Bank in Denmark is dealing with its own scandal having to do with a small but profitable branch in Estonia. There, the officials are accused of not having strong enough anti-money laundering policies in place, which has resulted in the company’s CEO, Thomas Borgen, announcing his resignation and a Denmark regulator reopening its investigation into the bank.

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