Monday, July 22, 2024

BsAC finance director unauthorizedly withdrew D141,000 from council’s account, Vista Bank branch manager tells commission of inquiry

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By: Alieu Jallow

During the Local Government Commission of Inquiry, the branch manager of Vista Bank in Brikama, Abdoulie Saidykhan, testified that Lamin Suso, the Finance Director of Basse Area Council, withdrew an amount of one hundred and forty-one thousand dalasi (D141,000) from Vista Bank on behalf of the council, which was not authorized by the council’s CEO, Ousman Touray.

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The witness narrated two incidents where Suso visited the Vista Bank branch to carry out financial transactions for the council. On the first occasion, according to the witness, Suso withdrew one hundred and forty-one thousand dalasi from the council’s account and on the second occasion, Suso presented a cheque of fifty thousand dalasi (D50,000) to withdraw from the council’s account.

Mr Saidykhan revealed that during the withdrawal process, his bank received a call from the council’s CEO, Ousman Touray, claiming that he did not authorize the transaction.

“CEO Touray told me that one of the signatures on the cheque was his, but the other signature was not his,” Saidykhan said.

During the testimony, the witness stated that the transaction had been terminated and the bank system had reversed it. When Suso inquired about the cancellation of the transaction, the witness said he informed Director Suso to contact CEO Touray as he claimed that he had not authorized the withdrawal.

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“When I told him to call the second signatory, he [Lamin Suso] left,” the witness said.

The witness said CEO Ousman Touray came to the Vista Bank Brikama branch to request the cheque that Suso brought, but he was told it was given back to Suso.

“The CEO came purposefully to collect the D50,000 cheque. I told him that we gave the cheque to Lamin Suso,” the witness said.

During the hearing, the witness informed the Commission that the CEO, Mr. Touray, stated that he couldn’t recall signing the withdrawal of the cheque worth D141,000. The witness conducted a thorough search in the archives and was able to trace the transactions that took place on 22 September 2022.

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“He [CEO Touray] told me that the signature on top of the cheque is mine, but he cannot verify the one below. He said it [signature below] looks similar to his signature,” the witness said.

He also informed the commission that Suso wasn’t questioned about this transaction because he was also a signatory and equally the Finance Director of Basse Area Council. He added that in October, Lamin Suso came back to their bank with a cheque for fifty thousand dalasis (D50,000) which belonged to the Council.

He went on to inform the commission that while they were processing the money for Suso, they received a call from their Basse branch that the CEO of Basse Area Council had called them informing them that he had received a notification of D50,000 being cash from the councils account and that he was not aware of approving it.

He said CEO Touray said the transaction they are chasing for Lamin Suso was not signed by him, adding that this was when they stopped the process and informed Suso who was by then in their bank.

The witness went on to say the last time he gave Suso money was last week. He added that he gave Suso D1000 because he said times were hard and he needed support.

The witness said the four cheques were transactions in two (2) years. He testified that Suso was paying him cash and the cheques were never cashed. The witness reiterated that his bank does the verification for transactions above D50,000

When asked by Commissioner Oreme E. Joiner if it sounded interesting that both Suso and Touray would leave Basse and come all the way to Brikama to seek financial help, the witness said he has a cordial relationship with Suso, and it was Suso who introduced the CEO Touray to him, adding that he came to know CEO Touray when he came looking for money to bail his nephew detained at the Mile II prisons. “I gave him D95,000 cash,” the witness said.

The witness said the CEO repaid the money within three (3) weeks. He added that it was the last favour he made to CEO Touray.

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