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Guaranty Trust Bank Victimized in Le 2.5Bn Racket

The financial arrangement between the Guaranty Trust Bank and the Sierra Leone Roads Authority was considered a viable venture prior to its implementation. The initiative was welcome when it was realized that Millions of Leones was going into private pockets than the Consolidated Fund. It was therefore thought that a well designed plan whereby vehicle owners will pay directly to the Bank and a paying in slips issued to them would curtail what was seen as a massive fraud that was being perpetuated by all category of workers and non workers commonly referred to has hustlers and agents.

 

The necessary arrangements after a thorough and successful research had been concluded and projections made as to how much would be realized if the project is well and properly implemented were taking into account, thus it was decided that it should kick off. The agreement was signed between the two parties on 1st September, 2010. “It states in the opening paragraph that the “Authority in order to effectively perform its function of collecting the nation’s revenue as mandated and accurately account for the same has requested the Bank to provide banking services through “Embedded Teller Services” at its location country wide so as to ensure all revenues collected as mandated at its various location countrywide are deposited and transmitted to the Authority’s designated accounts at the Bank…”

The agreement was entered into and implemented during the period of the Acting Executive Director, Mr. Yansaneh. Little did authorities of the two institutions notice that while the planning was progressing, some ill-motivated and money hungry workers were also planning how to thwart the project for personal benefits.

The commencement of the project was smooth and attractive as bank officials moved into the premises of the Sierra Leone Roads Authority and commenced issuing out paying in slips and receiving payments. Certain percentage of the total amount of payment received was to be paid as commission to the bank. During the period lots of vehicles registered, but with no knowledge that slips issued out to the owners and drivers were fake and not recorded into the system. The issue became a complex one to uncover.

It was later, that the bank received a tip-off about the dubious and racketing enterprises organized by some people, which should have put the reputation of the bank to despair that it decided to terminate the contract, by then so many vehicles had been registered. The task was how to reverse the process and identified those vehicles that were registered under dubious transactions.

Several efforts became necessary and a team was put in place to track down the vehicles and get them to pay for the process again. This was seen as unfair to vehicle owners as the fraudulent action was not the making of vehicle owners nor was it their fault. In this edition, vehicles that went through the ugly task are published.

The Guaranty Trust Bank, while the exercise was strongly pursued came in and paid what was computed as the lost revenue. This was done to preserve its image as a responsible financial institution serving the nation. The agreement did not in state or imposed a condition on the bank that if a situation of such nature develops, it should be responsible to repay revenue lost. It however came in to put the scandal to rest and maintain a clean face.

On the contrary, while the Guaranty Trust Bank had taken over to repay revenue claimed that was lost by the Authority, officials of the SLRA were busy retrieving the same money from vehicle owners and not paying it back to the bank after it had collected the Le2.5Billion claimed.

It was the expectation of some members of the public that since the investigation had revealed that some, it not all had been retrieved such amount of money should be recovered by the bank. But that did not happen; instead officials at SLRA claimed that the money retrieved was paid into the Consolidated Fund.

The SLRA became a double-dipper, dipping from the Guaranty Trust Bank and also from innocent vehicle owners. According to investigation conducted monies retrieved from vehicles were not paid into the Consolidated Fund as alleged but went into the private pockets of most officials of the SLRA.

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