Bank of Sierra Leone and Police Inspector General clash over $34,000 counterfeit allegations

Mackie M Jalloh: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 24 March 2024:

In a dramatic turn of events, the Bank of Sierra Leone and the Sierra Leone Police Inspector General find themselves embroiled in a bitter dispute over allegations of a US$34,000 counterfeit money scandal.

The saga, which unfolded during the “Good Morning Salone” program on 98.1 radio station, has sparked widespread confusion and raised serious questions about accountability and transparency within the country’s financial institutions.

The controversy began when Inspector General Fayia Sellu, addressing the Sierra Leone Parliament’s Committee Room 1, accused the Bank of Sierra Leone of failing to respond to inquiries regarding the verification of US$34,000 in counterfeit notes dating back to 2021.

Sellu’s allegations cast a shadow of doubt over the integrity of the central bank, implying negligence or complicity in the handling of counterfeit currency.

In a swift rebuttal, Alfred Sama, the Director of Banking at the Bank of Sierra Leone, vehemently denied Sellu’s claims during the live radio program. Sama asserted that the bank has diligently fulfilled its state responsibilities and has no outstanding verification requests for counterfeit notes. He pledged to engage with the Inspector General to ascertain the veracity of the allegations but maintained that, as things stand, the bank is not aware of any outstanding issues regarding counterfeit money.

The situation has left the public in a state of confusion and skepticism. Both the current Inspector General and the Bank Governor, Dr. Ibrahim L. Stevens, who served as the former Deputy Bank Governor under Professor Keifala Kallon in 2021, have refrained from providing clarity on the matter. Dr. Stevens’ silence has fuelled speculation and raised eyebrows, as he remains a key figure in the central bank’s leadership.

The silence of the Bank Governor and the Director of Banking, coupled with the conflicting narratives presented by the Inspector General and the central bank, have left citizens questioning whom to believe.

Is the Inspector General fabricating accusations to deflect attention from other issues, or is the Bank of Sierra Leone attempting to conceal its involvement in a counterfeit scandal?

As the dispute escalates, the credibility of both institutions hangs in the balance. The citizens of Sierra Leone await decisive action and transparent communication from their authorities to restore trust and ensure accountability in the nation’s financial sector.

Until then, the cloud of suspicion surrounding the US$34,000 counterfeit allegations lingers, casting a long shadow over the integrity of Sierra Leone’s financial system.

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