By Makutu Manneh
The former Finance Director of Basse Area Council has refuted allegations that he stole money from the council.
Lamin Suso, who testified before the Local Government Commission said: “The word stealing, I disagree with you in totality, that is your own opinion and I think you need to withdraw it.”
He went on to say that he lent money to council on four occasions, adding he lent them four hundred thousand dalasi, one hundred thousand dalasis respectively.
Counsel Gomez submitted that if he (the witness) provided them with evidence, he would withdraw the allegation of stealing he leveled against him, saying “let me tell you why your transactions will raise suspicion’’.
Counsel Gomez further cited a withdrawal of one hundred and forty-one thousand from the Council’s account in October 2021, made by Suso at the Vista Bank branch in Brikama, noting that the Chief Executive Officer of the council confirmed that he attempted to stop this particular withdrawal before it was made.
However, Suso said this money was meant for refund, but Counsel Gomez disagreed with him saying, “There was no refund”.
“MrSuso, are you employed to fund the council? Why would you work for the council when you were richer than the council?” Counsel Gomez asked?
The witness said he was not richer than the council, but was lending money to the council in good fate for the council to continue its activities.
Counsel Gomez interjected and asked if it made sense for the Basse Area Council to take credit from him anytime it needed money, but the witness submitted that what was happening in the council was not normal.
Counsel Gomez further informed Suso that in October 2021, he withdrew money from the council, and he made deposits into his Allahtentu account.
Counsel Gomez said: “On 11th October, you deposited thirty thousand dalasi, on 15th October you deposited twelve thousand and five hundred dalasi, on the 18th October you deposited six hundred and fifty-eight thousand and eight hundred dalasi, you also deposited forty thousand on 25th October, you also deposited one Hundred and seventy thousand dalasi and on 26 October you deposited One hundred and eighty (80) thousand.”
“All these transactions…, more than a million just in the month of October. Why would you have that finance deposited in your account, more than a million in October alone?” Counsel Gomez asked.
Suso replied that the thirty thousand dalasi and the twelve (12) thousand five hundred were monies generated from activities of his two Vehicles.
He added that six hundred and fifty-eight thousand and eight hundred dalasi were from the council’s Trust Bank Account and that is because the council applied for an overdraft for early payment of salaries.
He went on to say that as soon as the money was in the council’s account, they withdrew it and deposited it into his Allahtentu Account. When asked why the money was paid into his account, he said this was to safeguard the money until the payment of salaries was due.
He said the money was later withdrawn by the Council and salaries were paid, but Counsel Gomez told him that that is not true because looking at his account in October, the entire amount was not withdrawn and that salary for a month for the council is more than six hundred and fifty-eight thousand dalasi.
Suso agreed with Counsel Gomez that the total amount for the payment of monthly salary was more than the abovementioned amount.