Liberia: ‘Unexplained Deposits’ – a Misrepresentation – Liberia On U.S. Banks’ Shutdown
Monrovia — Liberia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has described as a misrepresentation suggestions that a recent decision by a banking institution in the US to shutdown the bank accounts of Liberia’s mission in America may have been tied to violations of flaunting US banking regulations. FrontPageAfrica recently came in possession of a letter sent to a Liberia mission in the US from the Sterling National Bank requesting that Liberia’s mission in the US shuts down its account with the bank.
The letter signed by the bank’s first Vice President Mr. Michael-James Caldwell reads:
“This letter is to notify you of our decision to bring our banking relationship to a close by February 24, 2014. Please make arrangements to open your account with another institution. Prior to that date, you may, of course, provide us with written instructions on what to do with the account balance. If, by that date, you do not provide us with written instructions on the disposition of the account balance, we will mail you, at the address shown in our records, a bank check for any balance in your account. After we close your account, we do not have to pay any checks drawn on that account and we may return unpaid any check presented for payment.”
On Tuesday, the MoFA responding to a FrontPageAfrica inquiry explained that the decision to shut down the account by Sterling was strictly due to the bank’s merger with Provident Bank and not because of any suspicious banking activity. The Ministry’s statement, reads:
“With reference to your question raised concerning” unexplained huge deposits”, be informed that this characterization is a misrepresentation of the existing reality as the embassy operates two accounts, one being for all revenues generated from transactions involving passports (that is monies paid by Liberians who are acquiring passports in the United States at the passport issuance centers in Washington DC and New York). The other account has to do with consular and visas fees and salaries, and operational funds. Therefore, besides the normal routine flows to these accounts, no “unexplained huge deposits” have been remitted to or from these accounts.”
It may be recalled that the US State Department had frozen the bank account a few years ago of the DC embassy for “unexplained huge deposits.” Sources have suggested that Liberian diplomatic outposts had been under US Treasury and Internal Revenue Service radar for flaunting US banking regulations and IRS tax laws. As a result, some have suggested that Missions have been moving from bank to bank: Chase Manhattan Bank, Washington National Bank, JP Morgan and the latest, Sterling National Bank of New York on Friday, March 21, 2014, a sourced told FrontPageAfrica.