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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Liberia hires top criminal lawyer to prosecute 5 indicted central bank official

The case of Liberia missing millions, involving 5 executives of the Central Bank of Liberia took a new a dramatic turn with the inclusion of Mr. Arthur Johnson, the head of the Asset Investigation Restitution and Recovery Team (AIRReT), to the prosecution.

Government announced Mr. Johnson’s inclusion to the team on Tuesday, September 10, according to the FrontPageAfrica.

Mr. Johnson confirmed being hired by the government to prosecute the Central Bank’s officials in the case, which is set to resume Monday, September, 16.

Legal practitioners, who spoke to on condition of anonymity after hearing the news, see it as a positive move by the government owning to the assets recovery head’s shrewd experience in criminal prosecution.

This is not the first time for state prosecutor to hire Mr. Johnson, a leading criminal lawyer, in Liberia to serve on its team.

Mr. Johnson, a private legal practitioner, was hired by state lawyers in 2017 as one of its prosecutors alongside former Solicitor General Daku Mulbah, the late Theophilus Gould among others to try the famous Sable Mining bribery case involving seven former and current government officials including a businessman.

The seven current and former officials, including former House Speaker Alex Tyler, were tried for allegedly receiving bribe in the amount of US$950,000 from a British Company Sable Mining to change the Public Procurement and Concession Commission’s PPCC) Act of 2005 in favor of the Sable Mining to mine the Wologisi Mountain in Lofa County.

During the course of the trial at that time, Mr. Johnson joined his colleagues to protest the ruling of then Presiding Judge Yarmie Gbeisay when he ruled and decided to temporarily accept the prosecution evidence obtained from South Africa until the witness to testify to that evidence can come to Liberia to testify.

Cllr. Johnson and his colleagues appealed to the Supreme Court to review the Judge’s ruling, which was overturned by the Supreme Court and the defendants were later re-arraigned on order of the high court for a new trial where the eight defendants were declared not guilty but Mr. Johnson did not participate in the new trial for reason not given.

However, in the Central Bank’s Economic Sabotage case, Mr. Johnson will be collaborating with the prosecution to prosecute former Executive Governor Milton Weeks, Deputy Executive Governor for Operations Charles Sirleaf, Director of Finance Hagba Dorbor, Director of Operations Richard Walker and Deputy Director for Internal Audit Joseph Dennis.

The five defendants, charged with economic sabotage, money laundering, criminal conspiracy and facilitation, had gone on trial after the Presidential Investigative Team (PIT), investigating the alleged missing L$16 billion report, accused them for the missing of over L$2 billion and US$837,000 under their watches.

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