6 March 2008

Gambia: Central Bank Governor Bamba Saho in a Corruption Scandal

The Governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia, Bamba Saho has been accused of gross "financial impropriety, abuse of office, institutionalized corruption and failing to surrender his past overseas travel impress-perdiem allowances, among other things."

The Governor is also reported to have used his powers and influence to favor his loved ones to the expense of hard-working Central Bank staffers.

Well placed sources close to the Central Bank of The Gambia, said Governor Saho's corrupt practices was getting out of hand. The Central Bank insiders said Saho's "care free" attitude towards the plight of Bank staff had led to low staff moral at the Bank.

"The staff of Central Bank of the Gambia are struggling with life compared to their fellow finance specialist in other areas. This is all due to poor administration. It's only the Governor and his deputies who are enjoying at CBG." said a staffer of the Central Bank, who spoke to the Freedom Newspaper on condition of anonymity.

Besides, embezzling bank funds, and also "his open greed towards hijacking most overseas trips" Saho has also been accused of denying qualified bank staff overseas training. The Bank insiders said Saho hijacked a scholarship program, which was meant for qualified banking staff and gave it to his relative Abdou Karim John.

"Also the present Governor Momodou Bamba Saho is abusing his powers. Can you imagine this man using his power to send his brother on training for a postgraduate degree program when he is not qualified. It is a policy that staff spent only one year on postgraduate studies but his brother is approved to go for more than one year. This is because he could not get a school for a one year program as he is not the least qualified. His brother is called Abdou Karim John and was with the Internal Audit Department before his departure." said the Central Bank insider.

Bamba Saho said our sources, has never declared travel allowances he received during his unfinished overseas trips. The Governor who was hired and reinstated at some point, was said to be responsible for the Bank's current mess.

"The present Governor is a corrupt human being. Please send your reporters to find out, they would get a lot of information. I bet you would be shocked to learn about this traveling Governor, who is always in the air, just because of the perdiems." said the insider.

During a visit to the Central Bank, this reporter requested to have an audience with the Governor, but was told that the Governor was indisposed for comments. A Secretary attached to the Governor said she would communicate my request to the Governor in due course.

An official of the Bank when reached for comments, confirmed that Mr. Saho had indeed been favoring his loved ones. " What's happening in this bank is unacceptable. I wish the President visits here and see for himself first hand. The Central Bank, which is expected to promote fiscal discipline, is not clean. Its Governor is corrupt and discriminatory. We all know how Karim John was sent for overseas studies. What Bamba is doing is not right. You don't treat such a national bank as your personal property. Many staffers and management members are angry at this hour. Bamba is self-centered. He does not like to share or empower his colleagues. He only cares for himself and his family." said the Bank official.

The official said since the appointment of Bamba Saho, several thousands of Dalasis worth or perdiems have gone into the pockets of the Governor. " He cannot say that there are no competent officials here to attend such functions overseas. Bamba is enjoying our glory. Without our input, he would have been fired long time ago. Just watch, what we are going to do. He does not own us. He is opening an invitation to other staffers to steal. The President should look into the activities of the Governor." said the official.

Up to the time of filing this story, Governor Saho was indisposed for comments. His cellular phone was unreachable.

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