(January 7th 2006)
|... Mr. Saleeby contracted relatives and friends of his Ghanaian wife to perform services that could be performed by Liberians. These Ghanaians had unhindered access to the Bank’s financial records. The CBL purchased their round trip air tickets, paid them contractual fees, daily per diem of US$200 and provided accommodation, transportation, telephone and daily meals. He divided his working period between Liberia and his family in Ghana. ....
Over a year ago, a leadership change took place at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL). Amidst unbridled corruption and arrogance towards the visiting team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Mr. Elie E. Saleeby was forced to resign as Executive Governor of the CBL. He was succeeded by Mr. Charles A. Greene, a veteran banker and member of the Board of Governors.
The nearly five-year rule of Mr. Saleeby, a man styled as one of the nation’s experts in economic and financial management, was marked by bad monetary policy, misrule and personal greed. A harmonization of the reserve requirement rate between the Liberian and United States dollars was an illusion. The rate was at twenty five percent Liberian dollar to eighteen percent United States dollar. The CBL had no foreign reserve holdings. Transparency in the auctioning of foreign exchange to major traders was a myth. The exercise was aimed at stabilizing prices and the exchange rate, but was conducted on a selective basis, which yielded no positive results.
Sadly, employees of the CBL enjoyed no benefits. There was no salary structure. Salaries were assigned on a discretionary basis. Instead, Mr. Saleeby embarked on a mission of personal greed. He and his deputy received fabulous salaries and benefits. Their names and salaries were never reflected on the payroll. He often took his annual salary in advance. The Bank bore the financial burden for his daily lunch and entertainments. He ran the Bank as a dictator, sidelining his Executive Directors and Managers in decision-making.
Throughout his tenure with the Bank, Mr. Saleeby evaded tax payment on his income. He presently owes the Liberian Government huge amount in income tax. The Ministry of Finance could be after him.
Mr. Saleeby contracted relatives and friends of his Ghanaian wife to perform services that could be performed by Liberians. These Ghanaians had unhindered access to the Bank’s financial records. The CBL purchased their round trip air tickets, paid them contractual fees, daily per diem of US$200 and provided accommodation, transportation, telephone and daily meals. He divided his working period between Liberia and his family in Ghana.
Without Board’s approval, he expended over L$15 million in 2003, which was termed as public relations and war related expenses. This is reflected in the external auditors report of 2003. He left behind huge amount of unsettled good notes in the Bank’s vault then solely managed by his foster brother, Elijah Jolo.
When Mr. Saleeby unceremoniously departed the Bank, he took away his assigned Range Rover valued over US$38,000. He was later allowed to pay a bogus book value of US$7,000 for the vehicle. Surprisingly, he has refused to pay the compromised book value or return the Bank’s two generators in his possession. Apparently, he wants them on charity.
But today, the Central Bank is witnessing a new renaissance and transformation. The Bank has established a very fine and sustainable relationship with the IMF. The Fund has continued to praise the CBL in its numerous reports for being the most cooperative government institution that is implementing the restructuring program. The monetary policy of the Bank has improved significantly.
The reserve requirement rate of the Liberian and US dollars has been harmonized to twenty two percent. The foreign reserves of the Bank has also been restored and increased. There now exists transparency in the auctioning of foreign exchange to major traders. These traders now bid as compared to the previously selective method. Inter-bank trading which was once prohibited has also been restored.
The Central Bank has also set into motion a rural banking program, which is geared towards enhancing the payment of civil servants residing in leeward counties and providing banking services to rural dwellers. In addition, two new commercial banks have been established. In an effort to ensure that operating banks are safe, sound and reliable, stringent measures were instituted against the International Bank Liberia Limited and Global Bank Liberia Limited for under-capitalization and imprudent management. The measures paid off well. These banks have been re-capitalized and are today strong and reliable.
Though painful, the restructuring exercise was a necessary ingredient for the restoration of Liberia on the international financial map. The exercise put into oblivion, every good thing the new CBL’s administration had envisaged and initiated for the staff. Some employees were voluntarily retired. Housing and transportation allowances earlier introduced were abrogated. Management’s contribution of ten percent to the established provident fund scheme for employees was reduced to five percent.
Notwithstanding, salaries were increased between 13.9 to 40 percent for various categories of employees. The salary structure is also equitable for all level of staff. The social and athletic club, which reactivation was denied employees is now in place. Interestingly, Board fees and the salaries of the Executive Governor and Deputy Governor were sliced. The names and salaries of the two executives are visible on the general payroll. This was never seen during the previous administration.
In all fairness, the present administration of the CBL has performed remarkably well. It is obvious that during this period of job lobbying, some individuals will engage in character assassination through the media for selfish reasons.
One of such characters is Mr. Saleeby. He has embarked on a campaign of vengeance and madness against his successor and the Bank’s Board of Governors - writing anonymous articles. Why? Because the Board refused to intervene on his behalf in securing a loan from the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment to finance his proposed flower mill project. He is indebted to the banking system, particularly the erstwhile BCCI and Bank of Liberia. His name appeared on the CBL’s database of delinquent borrowers. He wanted the Board to influence the suspension of the regulation prohibiting banks from borrowing to delinquent borrowers, which the Board refused to do. This is the level of dishonesty perpetrated by this man, styled as one of the nation’s experts in economic and financial management.
But thank God that the people of Liberia have elected a person as president who understands the politics of trickery, lies and deceit.