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Economic Sabotage: Le500Million Fine on Commercial Bank

From one financial disaster to another, since he assumed the office of Managing Director of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB), now a financial tsunami has hit the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank leaving it fragmented in the midst of a struggling economy.

Commercial Bank sources have alleged that Mr. Crispen Deigh has not made himself a good Managing Director, administratively and professionally, but despite the dismal assessment about his performance he is currently appreciation his action for granting undisputable opportunity to one of his allies in the private sector to withdraw huge sums of money under the pretext of loans from several Commercial Banks in the country.

Sierra Leone Commercial Bank and Chrispin Deigh

Sierra Leone Commercial Bank and Chrispin Deigh

As Chairman of the Commercial Banks Association he used his position to introduce his wheeler dealer friend, named Kabbah Simeon Kalu to obtain loans from several banks and financial institutions in the country under the name of mortgage financing.

One does not know what brought about the fraternity between the senior Managing Director of the Commercial Bank and Kabbah Simeon Kalu to the extent of taking the risk of personally introducing him as a reliable and trusted customer that financial institutions can comfortably do business with. According to official bank sources, it was against this background that the banks unsuspectingly entered into business with Mr. Kabbah Simeon Kalu that has left them groping in the dark in search of their money, which is far from recovering.

As a professional in the field of fraud, which he practiced and perfected in the United Kingtom and succeeded in duping Sierra Leoneans in Estate Business, Mr. Kabbah Simeon Kalu comfortably transferred his knowledge to Sierra Leone. Family sources say he owns several passports and traveling documents inclusive of Sierra Leone, Banjul The Gambia and the United Kingdom, which makes traveling very easy for him whenever he wants to do so.

At the HFC Mortgage and Savings (SL) Plc, he used a building purportedly owned by him to obtain a loan of Le7 Billion and claimed that the money was to be used for Estate Development. Several months later, he reportedly surfaced at the First International Bank (FIB) and obtained another loan for the purchase of machines. The money, according to bank sources was lodged at the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, where he has the Managing Director, Mr. Crispen Deigh as his backer and several accounts (Read about his numerous accounts under fictitious names next edition).

The sum of Le 5.6Billion was the amount Mr. Kabbah Simeon Kalu claimed was the cost of the machines including shipping to the Sierra Leone Ports Authority (SLPA). What is still not clear is whether he used the same house collateral to obtain the Le5.6 Billion loan from the First International Bank or not. However, Bank sources have alleged that the same collateral he used to obtain the Le7 Billion from HFC Mortgage and Savings (SL) PLC was the same he used to obtain loan for the machines.

As if that was not enough for him, he materialized at the Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) under the Business/Company name Premier Investment (SL) Ltd and obtained over US$500.000 loan (Five Hundred Thousand Dollars) for the same Estate Development project involving the United States of America Embassy.

With all these huge amounts of money obtained as loans, obtaining loan from the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank where he has the Managing Director who recommended him to the other Commercial Banks was an easy ride. At the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, Mr. Kabbah Simeon Khalu obtained a loan with interest in the sum of Le20.7Billion. This amount, competent sources say frustrated officials at the Central Bank after going through his records of financial transactions with the various Commercial Banks and financial institutions in the Country.

An investigation was conducted and the outcome was a shock to officials of the Central Bank who realized that the banks have been giving out loans to one individual under different business names on one collateral, and above all; it was also discovered that under the Managing Directorship of Mr. Crispin Deigh, the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank has shown no respect for the Financial Act as prescribed with regards to loan facility and that the beneficiary has been using one collateral, which is incompatible with the amount loaned out.

On 10th June, 2013 authorities at the Central Bank wrote a letter under the rubric Re: Violation of the Banking Act, 2011 to the Chairman, Board of Directors of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank it reads “The Bank of Sierra Leone notes with grave concern that the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB) was engaged in unsafe and unsound banking practices. One of such practices is cheque kitting at SLCB and Ecobank involving Mr. Kabbah Simeon Khalu,s account at Ecobank and his connected Mayfair Trading Company account at the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank” The letter went on to state that “These said practices carried out by SLCB pose a threat to its stability in particular and a systemic risk to the nation’s banking sector in general”

This premonition seemed to have fallen into deaf ears as nothing positive was done to arrest the situation immediately. “The letter from the Central Bank authorities went further “In light of the foregoing and pursuant to section 46(2) of the Banking Act, 2011 the Bank hereby imposes a fine of Le500 Million on the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, The relevant SLCB account shall be debited accordingly… and concluded by revealing to the Chairman that the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank is further strictly warned to cease and desist from the aforementioned practices forthwith…” Copies of this letter were sent to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Secretary to the President and the Chairman, National Commission for Privatization.

If would appear that senior officials of the Commercial Bank remained strong headed and defiant. On the same date, 10th June 2013, officials of the Central Bank, observing the due process and in compliance with the Financial Act 2011 dispatched another letter to the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr. Kaifala Marrah, which reads “…our investigations of a case of cheque kitting at the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank Limited (SLBC) have revealed evidence of collusion between certain staff of the bank and Mr. Kabbah Simeon Kalu. Further, Mr. Kalu’s exposure to SLCB stands at Le20.7Billion, which is currently delinquent”

It would be recalled that few days back, the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank fired three of its staff members, claiming that they were in collusion with Mr. Kabbah Simeon Kalu to fleece the bank, while the Managing Director Mr. Crispin Deigh, with overall administrative and professional authority is being pampered.

Police in collaboration with the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) have apprehended the key suspect, the self-style and happy-lucy-go-high-timer and professional fraudster, Mr. Kabbah Simeon Kalu. When apprehended, he claimed to be ill and was admitted at the Connaught Hospital, but up to press time, this medium learnt that a medical examination was conducted on him to ascertain his claim of not feeling well.

Unfortunately, for him the medical discovery proved that he was sound and kicking and was only pretending to be sick as he had planned to escape the jurisdiction of the Country. He has been relocated to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), where he has been provided with a “comfortable room” awaiting trial while investigation continues.

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