Sierra Leone government owned bank used as piggy bank by former ministers  

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 February 2019:

There was consternation yesterday among supporters and leaders of Sierra Leone’s main opposition All People’s Congress (APC) party, when a Commission of Inquiry led by the Nigerian Judge – Justice Biobele Georgewil, revealed a list of senior former government ministers – including president Koroma, who have been using the government owned Sierra Leone Commercial Bank as their personal piggy bank.

To be accused of looting state coffers is bad enough. But to use one’s office to take cash from poor savers at the government owned bank for personal and private use without paying back, is criminal.

According to government sources, the list of names read out publicly at the commission of inquiry yesterday, shows names of those in high office that borrowed billions of Leones from the bank and then defaulted in their repayment of the loans and overdrafts.

The list of so called ‘politically exposed’ Sierra Leone Commercial Bank debtors includes former president Ernest Bai Koroma who borrowed Le 858,638,123; former vice president Victor Foh – Le 939,815,843.23; sacked former vice president Samuel Sumana – Le 674,523,459; former information minister I.B Kargbo – Le 765,570,857 and Le 159,990,000; Hawanatu Koroma – Le 371,153,464; Alimamy Kamara – Le 140,763,401; Abraham Okere Adams – Le 31,324,240.46; Komba Mondel – Le 84,280,786.29 and Le 55,731,506.52; wife of the late former president Tejan kabba – Mrs Isatu Jabbie Kabba – Le 263,266,620; David Bai Conteh – Le 318,340,227; former minister of energy Henry Macaulay – Le 497,789,843; and Martin Bash Kamara – Le 20, 737,319.17.

It is understood that there are several more names of politicians in the former government and the well-connected that have used the government commercial bank as a honey pot to further their personal and business interests, without honouring their commitment to repay the loans and overdrafts.

Sierra Leone Commercial Bank was a few years ago on life support under special measures from the Bank of Sierra Leone, as it was unable to meet its obligation to the banking regulator, with millions of dollars borrowed by corrupt officials written off as ‘bad debt’.

What is lamentable is that lazy and incompetent people are elected to high office to work hard to uplift the people of Sierra Leone from poverty, create jobs and increase wealth.

But instead of pursuing their contract with the people, they became predators and parasites – taking money out of the government’s bank for their own personal use – money that should be used to help rebuild an economy they had bankrupted.

This is damn right abuse of office. The people of Sierra Leone deserve better and have every right to be angry.

When those elected to govern the people abuse their office by exercising executive orders in order to influence commercial banking decisions and policies for their own benefit, they as well as the bankers must be held to account.

Sierra Leone’s private sector is in a state of flux, not because there are no industrial and business innovators and entrepreneurs capable of setting up successful businesses that could create jobs for the millions of unemployed Sierra Leoneans that are languishing in destitution and abject poverty, but because of corrupt government officials who are taking millions out of the banking system that should be borrowed by business men and women to establish and grow their business.

This must stop. The Commission of Inquiry is here to stay, to ensure that those abusing high public office for their own personal gain and interests will be held to account and made to pay back every single penny they have gained as a result.

When those elected to govern the country are allowed to let loose on public funds as though its their personal piggy bank, then poverty, early deaths, destitution, illiteracy and lawlessness will reign supreme.

The causes of the civil war in Sierra Leone are rooted in decades of poor governance, impunity and corruption.  People felt disenfranchised.

There must be no return to the bad old days that could breed another senseless war in Sierra Leone.

Let the Commissions of Inquiry do their work diligently and unfettered, without fear or favour – but in accordance with the law. Let common sense and justice prevail.

11 Comments

  1. Mr Salieu Galleh,as a people we are not disoriented if to be disoriented means a state of confusion where the brain is having trouble processing information efficiently for some one to act accordingly.

    The problem with the majority of us is the inclination to view things with sentiments and emotions,which then denies us the ability to act objectively for our own good in the political arena.

    This is the phenomenon that is the brain child of politicians, which they have nurtured and protected over the decades.The name of the child is tribalism,and under Siaka Stevens this child amassed all the sinister strength with which it has gripped the nation.

    The most regrettable part of it is that even so-called educated people have enormous trouble freeing themselves from this grip while holding their PhD in their hand.

    But there is a glimmer of hope,which started shinning through with intensity before and after the last general election.The hope is carried by a significant number of Sierra Leoneans who see themselves first and foremost as Sierra Leoneans than anything else.This precludes any shade of tribal affiliation;social media has played a remarkable role in this regard,much to the anguish of politicians and other public figures.

    Even our Parliament is beginning to show signs of becoming trendy, otherwise the bill to set up the commissions of inquiry would have been killed and buried there, since the party most affected is APC and it is in the majority.At last some politicians have started behaving like people with a conscience.

    Turning a nation’s bank into personal property is not any different from walking into a bank with a gun and make away with the vault – only the method is different.

  2. The people of Sierra Leone have a disoriented attitude. Therefore, is highly unlikely to have the proper leadership representation which has the propensity to ameliorate the predicament of the people. To have a good governmental actors, we must overhaul our attitudinal dispensation and with this paradigm, this can herald a decent political weather.

  3. As a people,we must all be thankful to the Almighty for saving us from further debilitating punishment from APC almost a year ago.Had they continued to misrule and mislead us, the country would have finished to exist as an entity.

    The magnitude of immorality and criminality depicted here can only be borne by people without a conscience,let alone self-pride.One should be forgiven to hold the theory that they were not born the same way as the rest of humanity – probably they were shoved out of the furthest planet for their inhumane activities.

    It is impossible to believe,without evidence,that so-called leaders can treat a nation’s bank as their personal bank, although they put nothing in there,all in a sardonic and sadistic ploy to further rob people,the majority of whom are poverty-stricken.

    The revelation should be seen by the Bio administration,the Commissions of Inquiry and ACC as yet another front that has opened up where they have to fight for the common man who has always been treated like a piece of rag.

    Through out his tenure,did Ernest see ordinary people who could not afford a single descent meal a day while he and his entourage looted the nation ?

    With the trend things are taking,more revelations from other sectors are bound to be on the way which should make even the blind and deaf supporters of APC to start ebbing away,disoriented by the scale of corruption which their leaders and party have perpetrated.

  4. Thank you very much to the gov’t and the people of Sierra Leone, this corruption must end, enough is enough. Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma (EBK) thank you for letting us cry bitterly. I personally blame nobody but the former leader of the country Ernest Bai Koroma. He teaches his ministers how to steal from the country. This man was not honest for his country. Honestly we are going to vote what to do with these thieves. All of them should go to jail, outside of Sierra Leone for security reasons.

  5. Getting to know about these malicious and disheartening acts of plaunder orchestrated by the people we entrusted with political power to lead Sierra Leone to a better path sickens me.

    My view has always been that the previous government performed poorly in raising awareness about attitudinal change. The latter which was the central point of emphasis in former President Ernest Bai Koroma’s 2007 manifesto was not well achieved, and the people had not done anything to change their corrupt nature, then he brought in “Agenda for Prosperity.”

    How do you expect corrupt officials by nature to abandon their attitude when you have given them the opportunity to make themselves prosperous in a national looting spree?

    Sierra Leone needs to follow examples set in other African countries like Sychelles, Cape Verde, Botswana, and Rwanda. These four countries are mentioned in order of their performance in dealing with corruption with Sychelles being the least corrupt country in Africa for the year 2018- (Transparency International, 2018).

    As Sierra Leoneans, we need to embrace change and fight corruption and mismanagement of state resources as a national emergency just as how HE President Julius Maada Bio has stated.

    Let all those who are found guilty be banned from holding public offices or contesting in any elections in Sierra Leone. Little things done over a period of time will make a great difference. Good job papa government.

  6. APC fight for power by hook or crook is no other reason than to cover up such malpractice. It is not a secret in Sierra Leone that there are three things APC has succeeded in doing:
    1. Damaging the education system so that they can send their children and close supporters out to learn and keep them in power.
    2. Holding the economy to themselves so that poverty can consume the state and then use that to keep power
    3. Dividing the nation against itself in the name of tribal allegiance to maintain power and politicising the police and the army to help them in-flight fear on the masses.

    Ladies and gentlemen, Sierra Leone needs a better path. Putting an end to APC devilish behaviour is an urgent call. There are many young Sierra Leoneans looking for ways to help build the country. We need to stand up against corruption and vises created by the APC.

    This is not about SLPP. If SLPP behaves the same way, they will face the weight of the law. Enough is enough.

  7. Whether you are APC or SLPP or whatever party, as a youth you should be mad that these so called grown up “leaders” took millions of USD in loans, not to create businesses (with business plans that show break-even / expansion potential) that will create jobs, but rather to build several private homes and buy range rovers… because I dont see million dollar businesses all over the country.

    WTH is wrong with our youth to be defending criminal acts like these? I am sorry, its not about a party, nor is it about a particular person (politically exposed or not). Its about a system that has repeatedly failed our youth (beyond lack of jobs, these selfish folks model bad examples of success to our children).

    The moral lesson must never be – get power, get loans, build houses or absolutely terrible businesses that absolutely no one can invest in.

    My dear young people… let’s wake up. This is reckless by our “leaders” who clearly haven’t shown us examples of how to develop our country through hard work, grit, perseverance and robust business models.

    It’s one thing to take loans for business… we welcome that. Its criminal to deprive start ups and youth these resources because some politician is going to the bank to take $1 Million while in office.

    I am mad. And you should be. It’s not about a party, it’s just common sense!!! Do it for the ancestors who settled at the cotton tree.

    © David Moinina Sengeh

    • You have a calculated thought which has strewn all the perimeters of social satisfactions,and this idealisation can demolish the ill-constructed structures of lack and disgruntlement when is put into practice. Because the livelihood of the youth in Sierra Leone is attached to family and friend-handout phenomenon, therefore, it is incumbent upon a government to uplift the social lifestyle of its citizens.

      But my conspicuous discontentment is the flaunting of State protagonists of the the social contract which provides the territory for the culture of reciprocity within its jurisdiction. Empowering the youth is the very catalyst for maintaining of peace.

  8. Thankfully for our beloved Country there are entrepreneurs and innovators eager to start up legitimate and sustainable (and much-needed) businesses. As one such businessman, I am prepared to stake my knowledge and experience to develop significant employment opportunities – supported and encouraged by highly authoritative bodies and organisations (some international players).

    E-mail for further information and elaboration if required.

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