Ecobank and the “Robbers”

Few days back, the public surprisingly received two press releases that emanated from two renowned financial institutions in the country. The two, unregretably have spoken the same language, delving on the recent discovery that has stunned the entire population. It is not that such ugly development had never been recorded in the history of this country, but the magnitude or quantum of money involved sent the public into a marathon journey or one would say coma.Ecobank-Freetown

Initially, it was the bits and pieces of the story that reared its head, which unfortunately, the public was not able to grasp its contents at the beginning until the entire body of the story came out and greeted depositors. Ecobank, became the Snowden of the financial industry in Sierra Leone when it took the ultimate stance to alert every nook and cranny; and went to the extent of effecting arrest of those bank officials that are connected with the financial syndicate that threw the public into gymnastic.

The press releases from the two institutions emphasized the seriousness and protection they have attached to depositors money and re-confirmed their non-compromising stance in exposing those officials connected with the syndicate. Ecobank, the industry’s whistle blower has promised to work with the investigators, which it has proven beyond public imagination since the fraud became public. Its show how serious, not only for the institution but the premium placed on the operations of the institution and the level of commitment and dedication it maintains.

It was a shock to the public when news broke out that some senior members of the banks were working in concert with outsiders who are government officials to wreck havoc and discredit the institution. Probably, because the bank as an entity don,t want to be perceived by the public as aiding and abetting its staff decided to  go out and effect their arrests with co, operation from the head of the National Revenue Authority(NRA) Haja Kallay. If this trend had been in operation or practiced in the past the situation by now would not have resulted this way. Now that Ecobank has set the pace it is expected that heads of institutions will become the celebrated Snowdens of Sierra Leone, such a move would help to reduce corruption in most of our establishments. But when the heads decide to aid and abet committers of crimes the situation goes ugly by the day.

The Central Bank, by its definition and functions is to regulate the Commercial Banks, which it re-echoed in the press release that was distributed to the media for public consumption. The release went ahead to inform the public about the appointment of Mr. Kamara as the new chief of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank. By now, Crispin Deigh would have realized that his days as Managing Director of the bank are far gone and done. He may be regretting his involvement or non-involvement into what have now left him a disgraced ex-Managing Director. He could have been the right whistleblower, but because he decided to keep the frauds a secret, he found himself at the middle of a lasting and historic scandal.

He is a fine gentleman and a banker, but he allowed emotions and wants to put him down. The history of Managing Directors of the Sierra Leone Commercial Banks is similar with very few exceptions. How they assumed the position and how they allowed the position to destroy them at the end. Each past Managing Director of the bank has a story to tell; which is not a good one that will form part of the School Curriculum for our Children to learn and emulate their examples. It is sad for our Children, members of the public and colleagues in the banking profession.

If not for the timely intervention of the whistle blower Ecobank and the regulating Central Bank, probably the State of Sierra Leone would have been heading for a collapse that would have been disastrous. The situation would have been no different from the days of the late ex-President Momoh reign, when depositors’ were frustrated by the banks anytime to approach these institutions for their money. Again, the story would have been political, no money in the banks, no fuel and times are hard. The irony or interpretation would have been each time the APC is in power the banks suffer, which political presence is felt all over. What a very easy way of sending the APC into the political wilderness again for another decade or century. The perception if not the same, but would have been similar and interpreted by the suffering voters.

For the banks to be in the hands of few rogues is not only dangerous, but a clear show of disparity and abuse of citizens rights, which were some of the factors that provoked the 11-year civil war. Sierra Leone has   since crossed that bridge and is now marching towards good governance, economic stability growth, good heath and prosperity where every Sierra Leonean will be proud to identify himself or herself as a citizen of the State, not a situation or country that backwardness in every form is the hope of its people.

While the investigators are busy performing their constitutional obligation to the State of Sierra Leone, they should be reminded that all eyes are on them to do the right thing. We know about Government Ministers, private business individuals that are delinquent in their loan repayment. Some of them owe the banks huge money and have dragged on and on without repaying a dime. We are watching!

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