Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Receipts Contained in the 2019 Audit Report Were “Privately Sourced Receipts,” Says BAC Cashier

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By: Mama A. Touray

Lamin K Kanteh, the principal cashier of the Brikama Area Council, testified before the ongoing Local Government Commission of Inquiry that the receipts mentioned in the 2019 audit report were privately sourced receipts.

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A privately sourced receipt refers to unofficial receipts procured by Council staff without authority and used in Council transactions.

Council receipts are printed by the Gambia Printing and Publishing Company (GPPC) and are officially recognized for use in council transactions. However, the Principal Cashier informed the Commission that those receipts were privately sourced.

Kanteh was informed that despite the receipts being privately sourced, they were in his name, and he admitted to this.

On page 51 of the 2019 audit report, the auditors flagged that the witness was issuing receipts to revenue collectors without evidence of deposit, and the money could not be traced in the bank accounts.

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Kanteh, after reviewing the first page of the audit report, remarked that the numbers in the audit report were too long.

“I don’t think these are our GTRs. I think these are not in our BCR Book (record of the receipts); definitely, these were privately sourced GTRs. We do not have receipt numbers like this. These numbers are longer than the ones we used in the Council,” he explained.

Counsel Gomez pointed out to him that these findings were found in his cash book, which was audited. “I agree,” the witness said.

He testified that he was present during the audit but did not raise the issue with the auditors. When asked why he didn’t raise it with the auditors, he replied that he was not informed about the audit findings.

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“They are the very people who gave me the receipts. Since 2018 to date, I have never appeared in the bank to do a deposit or withdrawal,” the witness said.

He stated that he only issued receipts when he received a receipt from the finance manager and his support staff, adding that the receipt numbers were not the same as the numbers the Council uses. “They are too long.”

The commission noted that in May 2022, Kanteh gave a receipt of D262,000 to Mustapha Joof without evidence of a deposit. Kanteh claimed that it was a Bank transfer to Trust Bank and that he relied on the lodgment roll record for the receipt.

“This is not a bank transfer. The lodgment roll contains information on what was collected. It is not what was deposited. When you collect using the machine, it shows. You cannot tell me it was evidence of a deposit,” Counsel Gomez told the witness.

However, Kanteh was given the Trust Bank statement of account for the Brikama Area Council to check. Counsel Gomez asked the witness to show the Commission a deposit or transfer made in May 2022 regarding his claim.

He could not find it and instead said that Mustapha Joof should be responsible for the amount.

Counsel Gomez then told him, “You issued the receipt of D262,000 without evidence of a deposit or transfer,” to which he accepted, but when Gomez further accused him of being engaged in a fraudulent transaction, the witness denied it.

Kanteh was given a cash book by Chairperson Jainaba Bah, which had red writings and signatures that the witness confirmed to be his. “These are my own handwriting, and the signatures are mine.”

When asked why he scratched a receipt and changed information contained in a cash book, he replied that he found the practice there and maintained it.

Chairperson Bah told him, “We have ascertained that most of the revenue collectors do not go to the auditors and they stop at your office. You write in their cash book and give them receipts,” which he denied.

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