Liberians demonstrate after new banknotes vanish into thin air

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iStock

Hundreds of Liberians took to the streets of the capital Monrovia Monday to demonstrate over the disappearance of newly printed bills worth nearly $100 million.

The cash was officially destined for Liberia's central bank after arriving in the country at an unspecified time between last November and August this year, but has vanished without trace.

A crowd consisting mainly of youths, with a police escort, braved heavy rain in the city to chant: "We want our money back" outside the US embassy and the local headquarters of the African Union and European Union.

Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe told AFP last week the government would "leave no stone unturned" to find the cash as protesters blamed the authorities for what they termed "mass looting."

President George Weah, who has vowed to clamp down on corruption, said on Saturday he would not rest until the issue is resolved.

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"I want to inform you that an investigation is ongoing into the circumstances surrounding money brought into the country by the central bank of Liberia and we will not rest until the facts are established, and your questions are answered," former soccer star Weah said.

He added that if wrongdoing were uncovered those responsible would be held fully accountable.

Last Thursday, the government, which has requested assistance from the United States Treasury Department, the FBI and the IMF, imposed travel bans on 15 people, including the son of ex-president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in connection with the investigation.

Among those handed bans were Sirleaf's son Charles, former central bank governor Milton Weeks and Lebanese businessman George Abi Jaoudi, who was close to Sirleaf.

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