The Judge of Civil Law Court “A” at the Temple of Justice on Capital Hill on Wednesday, October 30, 2019, lifted the band of ex-Central Bank officials adding that the application made by government lawyers failedto specify the specific properties of the ex-CBL officials.
Judge Yamie Q. Gbeisay ruled that government lawyer’sapplication for freezing defendants Charles E. Sirleaf, Milton A. Weeks, Dorbor Hagba, Richard H. Walker and Joseph G. Dennis’ account wasset aside, dismissed and denied because the application of prosecution could not state the exact properties of the defendants that was believed to be proceeds of the crime.
“All properties frozen by this court are hereby order restored and all banks and financial institutions earlier ordered by this court to freeze the applicants’ accounts are hereby unfreeze said accounts,” Judge Gbeisay said.
The Presiding Judge of the court instructed the defendants to have access to their respective accounts on all such commercial banks, until the Ministry of Justice be specificof the property or account which was believed to be proceeds or instrumentalities of the crimes of money laundering and economic sabotage.
Judge Gbeisay said section 7.22 sub-sections 1 of the 2012 provisional remedies Acts relied on by the prosecution, the Ministry of Justice is not required to show the basis of its’ believe that a particular property of an accused was a proceeds ofthe crime.
He further that, the defendants charged with money laundering and economic sabotage are educated and professional people who have worked for years prior to their employment with the Central Bank of Liberia which works could enable them to acquire real and a personal properties.
Moreover, he said some of the defendants have acquired properties through the inheritance or other legitimate means so to freeze their entire asserts each without the state making reference to a specific property which they (state Prosecutors) believed to be proceed or instrumentalities of the crime is tantamount to harassment and intended to disable or strangulate the defendants of every means of livelihood inducing the support of their wife and children.
“This is in the considered opinion of the court which was not the intent of the authors of the Provisional Remedies Law,” Judge Gbeisay stated.
He also added that, in addition the law lied on by the state gives the court the right to impose restriction on withdrawal of funds from an account, leaving room for the survival of the accusers, whose need money to pay their lawyers for adequate representation and support to their respective family.
It can recalled that, on September 3, 2019, the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Justice filed a petition praying the court to issue a writ to freeze all and any bank accounts, real properties, shops, stores, real estates, super markets, dwelling homes that have been refurnished from stolen funds; vehicles, etc. of the defendants.
In government lawyers petition to the court relies on section 7.22 subsection 1, entitled the provisional remedies for proceeds of the crime Act of 2012 states that where specificities property is believed to be proceeds or instrumentalities of a crime or terrorist property, application shall be made by the Ministry of Justice or competent authority under the law to the court for a property freezing order with to such property to preserve the specified property where it is indicating the grounds for belief that the property is a proceeds or instrumentalities of crime or terrorist property.
Prosecution maintained that, the filing of such an application shall give the Ministry of Justice or other competent authority under the law the right to require a financial institution to impose restrictions on withdrawal of funds from an account for seven (7) days pending issuance of freezing order by the court, which decision shall be made and delivered by the court within 7 days for the filing of the application.
In response to the petition, on September 12, 2019, defendant’s lawyers filed a joint resistance to the application; said the Ministry of Justice should file specific relative with particularity the properties of the defendants which they believe to be fruit or instrumentalities of the crimes.
Defense lawyers further that, the CBL presents governor Nathaniel Patray issued a press release that all monies printed by the defendants were received by the Central Bank of Liberia, meaning that there is no way that the Sirleaf, Weeks, Hagba, Walker and Dennis properties could be proceeds or instrumentalities of the crime.
In their conclusion, the lawyers said the state did not establish the basis of its’ believed that the defendants got their properties from CBL.TNR