Judge Withdraws From Ex-CBL Officials Alleged L$2.6 Billion Theft Case
Criminal Court ‘C’ Presiding Judge Blamo Dixon has declined jurisdiction over the criminal case involving five former Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) executives linked to the alleged theft of L$2.6 billion at the Temple of Justice.
Ex-CBL Governor Milton Weeks, his deputy and son of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Charles Sirleaf; Dobor Hagba, Joseph Dennis and Richard H. Walker were arrested by the Government of Liberia in connection to the L$2.6 billon alleged illegal printing of the amount.It can be recalled that, according to the indictment, in April of 2016 up to and including August of 2018 at the head offices of the CBL, the five defendants by virtue of their employments and positions within the bank, did knowingly, deliberately and internationally collude and conspire with the wicked intent to launder money and sabotage the Liberian economy did print the money.
The indictment noted that they thereby defrauded the central bank and the Government when they unauthorizingly printed excess Liberian dollar banknotes amounting to L$2,645,000,000 to infuse into the Liberian market but which they deliberately and intentionally laundered to the detriment of the Liberian economy, and unauthorizingly caused to be paid the amount of US$835,367.72 to co-defendant Crane Currency for the amount printed.
Following their arrest by the police, they were charged with economic sabotage, criminal facilitation, and criminal conspiracy and are currently indicted by the grand jury of the court since the February Term of court.
The charges were later amended to include money laundering, giving the case a new dimension.
But Presiding Judge Blamo Dixon on Thursday announced his recusal from the trial without stating any legal grounds in violation of the Judiciary Law under the Judicial Cannon -28 for Judges.
The law states: “A judge should refrain from performing or taking part in any judicial act in which his personal interests are involved.”
It further states: “If he/she has personal litigation in the court of which he/she is assigned or is resident, he/she needs not to resign his judgeship on the account but he/she should of course refrain from any judicial act in such a controversy.”
Judge Dixon’s September 26 recusal shocked government independent Prosecutor, Cllr. Arthur Johnson, and defense lawyer Cllr. Johnny Momh, who later accepted his exit stating that they will take advantage of the law.
Though Judge Dixon refused to give any legal reasons for his recusal, but reports claim that he has close relationship with one of the defendants, Richard Walker.
Prior to his action, the five ex-CBL officials pleaded not guilty to the alleged crime, thereby shifting the burden of proof on prosecution lawyers to establish their claims against them consistent with Chapter 25, Section 25.5 of the Criminal Procedure Law of Liberia.