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Published On: Tue, Apr 23rd, 2024

Collector Questioned about Unaccounted D224,000 Brikama Area Council Funds

Alieu Sonko, a revenue collector for the Brikama Area Council (BAC) was questioned about unaccounted Two Hundred and Twenty-Four Thousand Dalasi (D224,000) he collected.

The witness admitted he did not go to the Internal Audit Unit for reconciliation based on the instruction of the Director of Finance that he should go to the IT Unit for reconciliation.

The witness collects revenue from Madiana, Youna and Brufut Heights. 

He appeared before the Local Government Commission of Inquiry to provide explanation regarding the missing funds, but the witness said the Director of Finance is responsible. 

The witness testified that the amount was Two Hundred and Twelve Thousand Dalasi (D212,000) instead of D224,000 as queried by the Internal Audit Unit of the BAC.

In providing an explanation, the witness, Alieu Sonko said he was instructed by the Director of Finance of BAC not to record the amount in his cash book. He denied the allegation that it was a suppression of the revenue collected.

“It was the blunder of the Director of Finance,” the witness said.

The cash book maintained by the witness covering between 2018 and 2019 was tendered and admitted in evidence. The witness tendered three other cash books covering 2020, 2022 and 2023. The three cash books were admitted in evidence. He testified that his cash book for 2021 was missing.

He bragged before the Commission that he was awarded Seven Thousand Dalasi (D7,000,000) as the best revenue collector in 2020. This was the same year he allegedly suppressed the revenue and still could not account for it.

When asked what he meant by it was a blunder of the Director of Finance, the witness said the problem was with the Director of Finance. He was reminded the duties and responsibilities of revenue collectors based on the provisions of the law.

Lead Counsel Patrick Gomez told the witness that the evidence that the other revenue collectors gave was that from the bank they go straight to the Principal Auditor for reconciliation. The witness insisted that what he stated was correct. He stressed that after the collection, he used to the money to the bank for depositing and then proceed to the IT Unit for reconciliation. He was informed that he was the only person who made that claim before the Commission.

The witness admitted that he had late entries inn his personal cash book from February to April 2020. Lead Counsel Patrick Gomez told the witness that the audit finding against him was that he did not make entries from February to December 2020. He disputed the audit finding.

The witness said he did reconciliation with the investigators of the Commission instead of D224,000 and it was discovered that it was D212,000 not accounted for.

“You have accepted D212,000 cash withholding,” Counsel Gomez asked the witness.

“It is not withholding. It is the blunder of the Director of Finance who asked us not to put it in the cash book,” the witness said.

The witness admitted that he had changed some of the months in his entries. The reason he gave was that he altered the months when he was trying to bring forward the figures he did not record previously.

He was asked why he did not attach the bank deposit slips in the cash book to show that he had deposited the funds.

“In those days they didn’t ask us to attach the deposit slips there. After we realised it, I started putting it there,” the witness said.

The witness said this happened during the period of February to April 2020 but Lead Counsel Gomez told him that the internal audit report indicated that this was from February to December 2020. 

He said the reason for not going to the Internal Audit Unit for reconciliation was that he was instructed by his line manager (Dembo Bojang), who is now the Chief of Kombo Central, that he obtained instruction from the Director of Finance that they should do reconciliation at the IT Unit instead of the Internal Audit Unit.

He said after his collections he deposits the monies in Trust Bank, GT Bank, Eco Bank and sometimes Zenith Bank.

He was given his 2020 cash book to check and show the commission the entries for 2020.

“Why did you alter the months and dates in your cash book for this particular period (February to April) and where is your deposit slip and GTRs for these entries,” Counsel Gomez asked.

The witness replied, “No, I did not change the months and dates.” He denied again that he did tamper with the recordings in his cash book after having admitted initially.

After he was given back his own cash book to verify, he admitted that he had changed the months in the cash book to bring forward the amounts. He testified that what he did was a mistake by him.

“You are audited by the internal audit and you went and made these changes, that is so fraudulent of you,” Counsel Gomez said.

The witness agreed but added that the changes were not about the audit queries. When asked why he changed the months, the witness claimed that it was to capture the balance he brought forward. He was told his explanation did not make sense.

Counsel Gomez confronted him on the idea of bringing forward entries saying there was no sense in doing that

“You know what you are saying does not make sense,” Gomez told the witness.

The witness was silent. He then claimed that he has the bank deposits. He provided some copies of bank deposit slips with the claim that the others were with the Director of Finance. He waa given back the deposit slips with the instruction on what to do before those copies would be admitted.

The witness was further questioned based on his cash book recordings to show the faults. He admitted to the faults. He could not give an explanation to most of the questions asked. He could not provide deposit slips or receipts to support his claims.

The witness was also given the BAC bank statements for Eco bank, GT Bank, Trust Bank and Zenith Bank to show the Commission where he deposited the money. These were the banks the witness claimed that he used to deposit his collections.

The witness went through all those bank statements. He testified that the statements did not show the deposits he made with respect to his claims for the period February to April 2020.

“Where is the money,” Counsel Gomez asked.

“It is with the director of finance,” the witness said.

Lead Counsel Gomez told the witness to stop giving false evidence because he had earlier testified that he deposited the money in the bank accounts of the Council and now changed to say it was with the Director of Finance. 

“If you have deposited these monies it will be in the bank statement,” Counsel Gomez told the witness.

The witness will reappear on Tuesday (today).

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