Monday, July 22, 2024

BAC Finance Director Admits Using Geology Fund to Cover Council’s Negative Balance, LG Commission Reveals

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By Mama A. Touray

Alagie Jeng, the Director of Finance at Brikama Area Council (BAC), confessed to the local government Commission of Inquiry that the council allocated a portion of the geology funds to cover its negative balance.

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During his testimony, he revealed that out of the D33.7 million received as Geology Funds from 2019 to 2023, intended for communities affected by mining, some were diverted to capital projects.

“From the 33.7 million received as geology fund, the Brikama Area Council invested D7 million in Eco Bank, which enabled them to withdraw D9 million from the bank and spent it on projects. We invested 2 million Dalasi at Access Bank,” Jeng detailed.

However, when asked for evidence to support his statements and about the remaining funds, Jeng disclosed, “the balance was spent on projects.”

The Commission observed that the Geology Funds were used to rectify the Council’s negative bank balances, thus not serving their original purpose.

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Counsel Gomez methodically reviewed the bank transactions, Jeng’s report to the Commission, and the details of the Geology Funds received, including dates.

Jeng conceded that the funds primarily went towards clearing the Council’s bank deficits. He admitted, “The accounts were mainly in the negative balances and when the geology funds were received, the bank would take the funds.”

Lead Counsel Patrick Gomez pointed out to the witness that only D3.8 million was actually spent in the mining-impacted areas, to which Jeng agreed.

Gomez further clarified that the bulk of the funds were used to settle bank debts, with Jeng affirming that the negative bank balances were offset with the geology funds.

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Chairperson Jainaba Bah interrupted and informed the witness that there are laws that guide the council on assisting communities, which he acknowledged, admitting, “We did not follow the law.”

The Commission observed that the Brikama Area Council had been taking loans and overdrafts from banks, resulting in negative account balances. Among the loans obtained was one for ten million dalasis for refurbishing the Council’s main building, and another for two million dalasis to cover a 1 by 6 salary for the staff.

Alagie Jeng conceded that numerous withdrawals had been made from the accounts. The Commission requested evidence of these withdrawals and details on the expenditure of the funds.

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