7 September 2017

Sierra Leone: Bank of Sierra Leone Staff Granted Bail

Presiding Magistrate of Court No.1, Albert Moody, has yesterday granted bail in the sum of one hundred and twenty million Leones and one surety each in like sum to three bankers, five securities and one driver, all attached to the Bank of Sierra Leone.

The bail condition stated that sureties must be responsibly employed, reside in western area, produce two passport pictures each and that bail should be approved by the deputy Master and Registrar.

He pronounced the ruling after listening to the testimony of the first prosecution witness (PW1), coupled with a tough deliberation between the prosecution and defense, in which the latter convinced the Magistrate to grant bail to the nine accused persons.

Cecilia Fatola Annie Ben-Carew, Abdul Ibrahim Sama, Komba Gbolie, Rebecca Kosonikeh Fuller, Yayah Hamid Gabreel Kamara, Dankawallie Mansaray, Solomon Caulker, Patrick Massaquoi, Albert Jabatti Fortune, Francis Alimamy Sesay and Charles Eric Wilhelm, were before Magistrate Moody on one count of conspiracy to defraud contrary to law.

The particulars of offences stated that the accused persons on a date between 1st April 2017 and 12th July, 2017, at Bank of Sierra Leone, with intent to defraud the Government of Sierra Leone of its needed revenue, conspired with other persons unknown and facilitated the unofficial movement of the Leones and foreign currencies (United States Dollars and British Pound Sterling) out of the said bank into the hand of private individuals by making false representation that the bank was engaged in its normal auction exercise, knowing the same to be false.

Testifying before the court, first prosecution witness (PW1)-Ibrahim Bah, recalled a date between 1st April, 2017, and 12th July, 2017, stating that he was contacted by one Alusine who informed him that he knew someone who had the sum of three hundred thousand United States Dollars for sale.

Bah explained that after Alusine informed him about the sales, he asked him whether it was a legal business to which he replied in the affirmative, stating that it was coming from the Bank of Sierra Leone.

According to him, Alusine called the second accused person (Abdul Ibrahim Sama) in his presence and confirmed the legality of the sales.

Pw1 stated that on the next day, he was accompanied by Alusine and one Chernor to the eight floor of the Bank of Sierra Leone building where the office of the second accused was located.

Bah told the court that he went with eight Ghana-must-go bags containing the sum of two billion, two hundred and thirty -five million Leones and more to buy the United States Dollars.

He continued that when he arrived at the office of the second accused person, the first accused (Cecilia Fatola Annie Ben-Carew) entered the room.

"The first accused person entered the room while the second accused person introduced her," he said.

He said the first and second accused persons told him that they would help him to buy the United States Dollars through auction exercise that the bank was engaged in.

PW1 said after the first accused person had crosschecked the amount of money; the first accused person left the office and later returned with the sum of one hundred thousand United States Dollars.

He continued that he requested for the balance of two hundred thousand United States Dollars, adding that the first accused person told him to be patience as they were working on the process.

Bah further stated that he waited for almost an hour and later the first accused gave him another seventy thousand United States Dollars, plus thirty thousand United States Dollars , all to the total of two hundred thousand United States Dollars.

He said the first accused person asked him to go home and return the next day to collect the balance of one hundred thousand United States Dollars, adding that he asked the first accused person to give him a receipt of payment.

"She made a handwritten receipt which she signed and I took a snapshot of it with my mobile phone," he said.

Pw1 said on the next day, he went to the office and the first and second accused persons gave him the sum of sixty thousand Unite States Dollars, while they pleaded with him to collect the remaining forty thousand Dollars the next day.

According to him, he refused and asked the first and second accused persons to return the balance of forty thousand United States Dollars in Leones, which they did.

It was at that juncture that ASP Samuel Kamara applied for adjournment , stating that he wanted to tender some documents through PW1 that were not made ready to the prosecution.

The Defense team includes Lawyer M. E. H. Sesay, S M Sesay, M Dumbuya, H. M. Gevao, B. Pratt, A K Musa, P. T. Bear, J Kapuwa, V. Lansana and O. S Kamara among others.

The matter was adjourned to 13th September, 2017 for further hearing.

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