Sierra Leone currency under attack – Lebanese businessman caught smuggling cash

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 23 September 2018:

A senior source at the Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission has confirmed to the Sierra Leone Telegraph that the Financial and Intelligence Unit of the Sierra Leone Police are investigating the seizure of a large quantity of foreign currency at the Lungi International Airport.

A man believed to be a Lebanese businessman named as Yusif Antar who was about to board a  Royal Air Maroc flight, was allegedly in possession  of the illegal cash. He is currently helping the police in their  investigations.

According to the police in Freetown, the man was allegedly found in possession of £60,375 (British Pounds);  Euro 254,100; and $368,414 (US Dollars).

The seized cash is being held at the Bank of Sierra Leone while investigations are ongoing.

This report comes just days after the newly appointed  Acting Bank Governor – Dr.Kelfala Joe Kallon, told local journalists at a press conference in Freetown, that “Our currency is under speculative attack…”

The Acting Bank Governor was addressing journalists on the current status of the economy and some of the measures he intends to take – if approved by Parliament, to solve the financial problems the Bio led government inherited from the electorally defeated APC.

Dr. Kallon told reporters that the Bank of Sierra Leone weekly sells the Dollar to Commercial Banks , but that the banks are failing to sell the dollar on to the general public.

He said that some banks are running a cartel involving senior officials within the banking sector, which sells the foreign currency through the black market.

This he said, is what largely accounts for the shortage of dollar in the country and the depreciation of the Leone.

“Recently we released close to $10 million to stabilise the black market; and I think by so doing there will be some financial sanity. But we also have to monitor these Commercials Banks to know why people go there to get dollars but are refusing to sell the currency to them. Instead the banks are telling customers that there are no dollars available,” the Acting Bank Governor told reporters.

Speaking about the need to cut government borrowing, the professor said: “When a government keeps borrowing money, it prevents the private sector from having money to invest, and this causes more economic hardship.”

“I will make sure within the confines of the law that I bring back all monies that have left this country illegally, and I know how to do that,” said professor Kallon.

He said it will take about nine months for a country like Sierra Leone that has been affected by economic shocks to return to normal business, because it is not only about monetary policy but fiscal policy – raising taxes and government spending.

“I will not promise that things will be okay overnight, which is why we all need to help the President especially in the area of fighting corruption,” he said.

Professor Kallon said that under his stewardship, the Central Bank will set up Community Advisory Boards at local banks to make suggestions as to how various monetary policies will benefit customers.

3 Comments

  1. Mr Momodu Kamara,

    You seem to be a well educated,precisely balanced and intelligent person.I and thousands of other Sierra Leoneans would,therefore,love to benefit from your definition of corruption.

    I must hasten to let you know that within certain contexts there is such a thing as benign corruption such as when an engineer corrupts the natural flow of a river to provide electricity for his/her nation.Another example:when a surgeon uses a ventilator to help a patient breath while performing surgery,this is also corruption of the benign type.

    Where do stand Mr Momodu Kamara?

    Thank you.

  2. We are all familiar with the saying that for anybody to be successfully bewitched in their home, somebody within the household must open the door to let the wizard or witch in.

    And so it has been for our dear little country. The extremely melancholic element of it is that at the forefront of destroying the nation are our leaders who would stop at nothing to enrich themselves, even if it means raining down destitution, misery and backwardness on the majority of the population. All those who stand in their way should and must be eliminated.

    The confiscation of hundreds of thousands of foreign currencies at Lungi Airport from a Lebanese and his Sierra Leonean accomplice is just the latest of a Sierra Leonean opening the door for a foreigner [a wizard] to enter to help destroy the country’s economy, most likely for a few American dollars in his pocket.

    This is not something that has just begun, it’s pace gathered momentum in the days of Siaka Stevens when the notion of “wusai den tie cow narday eday eat” [where a cow is tethered that’s where it grazes] was reinforced and given legitimacy and credence. In other words should use his/her position for personal enrichment.

    The two people arrested cannot possibly be the only ones in the affair. A thorough investigation is more than likely to land some bigger fish at Pademba Road Prison [it is not a correction centre, it is a place for punishment]. The current and former Inspector General of police should not escape questioning either by a special panel made up of hardened jurists who should also rope in Balogun [Logus]Koroma in his capacity as minister of transport and aviation in the previous administration.

    The Resident Minister [the lady in the video answering questions in her simple but dignified attire] summed up the whole nasty incident:”nar syndicate”. Her answers were clear,courageous and powerful. She attributed the seizure to a new agent, one of many that the new government of President Bio has sent in to operate under cover. I recommend that the new agent should be promoted. The old hands should be kicked out at once.

    The suspicion of the Resident Minister [the lady in the video] of Westminster working in tandem with criminals has been borne out. They too should be shown the exit signs.

    Clean house President Bio.

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