Monday, July 22, 2024

LG Commission: BAC Finance Director Admits to Using Geology Funds to Settle Council’s Negative Balance

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By Mama A. Touray

The Director of Finance at Brikama Area Council, Alagie Jeng, has admitted before the ongoing Local Government Commission of Inquiry that the council used part of the geology funds to settle its negative balance.

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This admission came during his testimony about the D33.7 million the Council received as Geology Funds between 2019 and 2023. The funds were intended for the communities where the mining took place, but Jeng informed the Commission that some of the funds were spent on capital projects.

Director Jeng explained that from the D33.7 million received as geology funds, the Brikama Area Council invested D7 million in Eco Bank, which enabled them to withdraw D9 million and spend it on projects. He added that they invested D2 million in Access Bank. However, he was asked to provide evidence to substantiate his claims.

When asked about the remaining balance, Jeng responded that it was spent on projects. The Commission noted that the Geology Funds were used to offset the negative balances of the Council in the banks, which defeated the funds’ intended purposes.

Counsel Gomez detailed the transactions from the bank accounts, the report Jeng provided to the Commission, the amounts received as Geology Funds, and the dates. Jeng eventually accepted that the funds were mainly used to clear the negative balance of the Council in the banks.

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During the questioning, Alagie Jeng admitted that the accounts were often in negative balance, and when geology funds were received, the bank would take the funds, leaving them with little to spend. Lead Counsel Patrick Gomez pointed out that only D3.8 million was spent in the affected areas, to which Jeng responded affirmatively.

Counsel Gomez further highlighted that most of the funds went to offsetting bank liabilities. Jeng accepted this, explaining that the bank balances were negative, and the geology funds were used to offset these balances. Chairperson Jainaba Bah interjected, reminding Jeng that there are laws guiding the council on how to help communities. Jeng acknowledged this and admitted that they did not follow the law.

The Commission noted that the Brikama Area Council was taking loans and overdrafts from the banks, leaving their accounts in negative balance. One such loan was a D10 million loan to refurbish the Council’s main building and another D2 million loan to pay a one-by-six salary for staff.

Alagie Jeng admitted that they made many withdrawals from the accounts. The Commission asked him to provide evidence for the withdrawals and details on how the funds were spent.

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