Monrovia — Two dismissed staff of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) are calling on the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Justice to launch an investigation to accord them the opportunity to prove their innocence.
The pair, Cooper Leamah, and Amos Goba were sacked in June this year for allegedly breaching FIU’s confidentiality rule by leaking sensitive information for personal gains. They have since denied the allegations.
The FIU, in a statement sanctioned by the then Director General Edwin Harris, stated that the pair’s alleged actions were in violation of section 67.13 of the FIU Act of 2012 and section 6.7.6 of the Human Resources Hand Book of the FIU, the Code of Conduct and Statement of Confidentiality. It added that the dismissed staff will be forwarded to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution.
However, three months later, the dismissed staff are yet to be prosecuted. In a statement, the former employees called on the Ministry of Justice to investigate them and make the FIU to provide its evidence, adding if this is not forthcoming, they should be given clearance.
“The deliberate and willful act by Edwin Harris and Emmanuel Gee not to provide investigative report/evidence to the Ministry of Justice and the slow pace of the Ministry of Justice to demand those evidence from Emmanuel Gee who is now the Officer in Charge of the FIU are placing a tint on the effectiveness of Liberia’s criminal investigation chain and justice system,” they stated.
Continuing, they said “Since June 28, 2022, the world knows that we were dismissed for “tipping off” to a subject under investigation, “conflict of interest”, “deleted 2 STR files for personal gain”, “gross insubordination to our boss”, stealing classified information for personal gain, etc.; but the world does not know that these are mare allegations that were published without internal and external investigation to establish the facts and that those publications were not the results of the court ruling. Being out of Job for three months as promising professionals and head of large families in this struggling economy is devastating.
“Edwin Harris and Emmanuel Gee believe they have power and can use it anyhow is a deliberate act of denying our rights under the laws of Liberia. What is far more damaging is the fact that the world knows us for who we are not and yet our government is reneging to investigate us. We are humbly appealing to His Excellency, the President of Liberia to reinforce his promise/mandate back in July 2022 to investigate this case so as to give us relief and restore our rights.”
Specifically, the FIU accused Amos Goba of using his connection to conduct illegal investigations and reporting to people outside of the FIU; actions the FIU said were intended to soil the image and character of reputable individuals in society. It also accused him of gross insubordination.
For Cooper Leamah, the FIU said he was the head of analysis at the institution, and in his capacity, gave tip off to a suspect under investigation for suspicious money transaction. This suspect, the FIU alleged happens to be Leamah’s boss of ten years. His alleged action, the FIU stated, destroyed the evidence and rendered the investigation meaningless.
The FIU has since maintained that its action against the former employees is justifiable and has a preponderance of evidence linking them to the alleged crimes. It did not respond to an FPA inquiry las month but insiders say, it has forwarded the pair to the Ministry of Justice.
However, the pair said the then FIU Director Harris did not send any report to any law enforcement agency nor to the Ministry of Justice.
Meanwhile, FPA contacted the Ministry of Justice through Liberia’s Acting Solicitor General Cllr. Wesseh A. Wesseh to ascertain whether the FIU has turned over the dismissed employees for prosecution but he did not respond to the inquiry. When called, his phone did not ring and he did not respond the FPA text message.
The aggrieved former staff said they wrote the board chairman of the FIU and copied all members of the board including the Justice Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister, Finance & Development Planning Minister, NSA Director and the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, complaining the actions of Edwin Harris and Emmanuel Gee.
The pair added: “We have made numerous follow-ups to the Ministry of Justice up to present but progress seems to be stalled somewhere at the Ministry. Edwin Harris and Emmanuel Gee’s action to issue a dismissal letter accompanied with three senior officers of the Emergency Response Unit of the Liberia National Police, carrying guns to evict two non-violent staff on duty was based on the misuse of power, malice, gross disrespect to the policies and laws of the FIU, and labor law. “
“Publishing our name in all radio, online, and print media of the country using such destructive criminal information without internal or external investigation was based on an intent to injure our professional career in and out of Liberia, destroy our ethical standards and integrity we have built over the years, undermine the solid foundation of the AML/CFT regime, and to undermine the integrity of the FIU. Moreover, it’s a gross disrespect to Law Enforcement, prosecution, and the Judiciary in Liberia to publish information that concludes criminal acts without investigation, prosecution, and adjudication.”
They also called on President Weah to reinforce his promise back in July 2022 to investigate the case so as to give relief and restore their rights.