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.