By Makutu Manneh
The Local Government Commission of on Monday, 11 September reported that the finance department of the Basse Area Council had withdrawn over fifty-one million, one hundred and sixty-nine thousand thirty- six dalasi and eleven bututs within two years.
The commission made this disclosure while asking Mamodou Lamin Karu, the Account Assistant at Basse Area Council about the department’s withdrawal from the Council’s account from 2020 to 2022 without ascertaining what activities were the monies used for.
Karu, who also doubles as License Manager for the Council, confirmed that the Directorate of Internal Audit reported that he withdrew one million, one hundred and eighty-nine thousand, two hundred and forty-seven dalasi (D1, 189, 247) between January 2020 and December 2021 respectively.
The auditors have noted that the Finance Department has not provided them with any evidence as to why these monies were withdrawn and what they were used for.
“I was withdrawing these monies because the Council did not have a cashier and this is why I was making the withdrawals,” he said.
He added that when the internal auditors came to the council and made a discovery about the withdrawal of the said amount of money, he was never interviewed by them.
The witness further informed the commission that the vouchers for these withdrawals are with the Police.
At this point, he got into a push-and-pull with Deputy Lead Counsel, Patrick Gomez who intimated to him that he (the witness) was telling them two different things.
Lead Counsel Patrick Gomez told the witness that he wasn’t being honest because the auditors had put in their report that it was Karu, who gave them the vouchers.
Karu also confirmed to the commission that he is aware of the Finance Director (Suso) taking monies from certain revenue collectors at the council.
“I am aware that Revenue Collectors Sorri Sillah, Lamin Mannehand Soma Jallow have given the council’s money to Finance Director Suso after collection,” he said.
“Most of the revenue collectors know that when I came to know about such practices, I reported it to the CEO and this could be why some didn’t inform me when it occurred.”
Karu said he had informed the Finance Director that it is bad to collect money from revenue collectors before depositing it in the bank.
MrKaru recollected that he was once told by Soma Jallow that after their collection, he was asked by Sorri to give their collection to Suso which he did.
“I reported this matter to the CEO,” he explained.
He added that there was also a time when he went with Lamin Manneh and others for collection, and he saw Lamin Manneh giving the money to Suso and Manneh informed him that Suso said he should give him the money.