Brikama Area Council Principal Cashier Says They Were Using Unofficial Receipts

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By Makutu Manneh

Lamin K. Kanteh, the Principal Cashier of Brikama Area Council on Tuesday told the Local Government Commission that the receipts contained in the audit report of 2019 were privately sourced.

He stated this when he was questioned about the audit finding against him. He allegedly issued receipts amounting to Sixty Million Dalasi (D60,000) but the money could not be traced in the bank accounts of the Brikama Area Council. As he started looking at the receipts, the witness immediately informed the Commission that those receipts were not the official receipts as they were privately sourced. He could not still account for the money. He claimed that he could not still trace his main cash book.

Privately sourced receipt refers to unofficial receipts procured by Council staff without authority and using it in Council transactions. Council receipts are printed by the Gambia Printing and Publishing Company (GPPC). It is what is officially recognised to be used in transactions of the Council. However, the Principal Cashier has now told the Commission that those receipts were privately sourced.

The witness was informed that despite that they were in his name. He admitted to this.

On page 51 of the 2019 audit report, the auditors found out that the witness was issuing receipts to revenue collectors without evidence of deposit. The money could not be traced in the bank accounts.

The witness, after going through the first page of the audit report, said the numbers in the audit report were too long.

“I don’t think these are our GTRs. I think these are not in our BCR Book [record of the receipts],” the witness said, adding “Definitely, these were privately sourced GTRs. We do not have receipt numbers like this. These numbers are longer than the ones we used in the Council.”

“But these findings were found in your cash book. You were audited,” Counsel Gomez told the witness.

“I agree,” the witness said.

“Are you saying these were privately sourced GTRs?” Counsel Gomez asked.

“Yes,” the witness replied.

He testified that he was present at the time of audit and he did not raise the issue with the auditors.

“These numbers were found in your cash book,” Gomez told the witness.

“Yes,” the witness answered.

“Why didn’t you raise it with the auditors?” Counsel Gomez asked.

“I was not informed about the audit finding,” he said.

The witness said he only does reconciliation and the people responsible for deposit included the finance manager and the financial assistants.

“They are the very people who gave me the receipts. Since 2018 to date, I have never appeared in the bank to do deposit or withdrawal,” the witness said.

He reiterated that the receipts could have been privately sourced. He stated that he only issued receipts when he gets a receipt from the finance manager and his support staff. He explained that the receipt numbers were not the same as the numbers the Council uses.

“It is too long,” he said.

The witness changed his testimony today that when he issued receipt he ensured that the revenue collectors provide deposit slip. He was questioned by Lead Counsel Patrick Gomez and provided him evidence to show that his new claim was false.

He gave the witness the cash book of revenue collectors Bakary Drammeh, Momodou Jadama, Mustapha Joof 

and Jainaba Bah.

The witness said the receipts therein were issued by him, but there were no deposit slips. He added that the collectors have their deposit slips.

“Speak for yourself. Don’t speak for them,” Counsel Gomez told the witness.

These three (3) collectors had already testified and they could not provide their deposit slips.

The witness accepted that the cash books do not have evidence of deposit. 

The witness in May 2022 gave a receipt of D262,000 to Mustapha Joof without evidence of deposit. The witness claimed that it was a bank transfer to Trust Bank. He testified that he relied on the lodgement roll record and gave the witness the receipt. Counsel Gomez told the witness that the lodgement roll only indicates what was collected using the machine and it does not show any evidence that the money was deposited or it was transferred.

“This is not a bank transfer. The lodgement roll contains information of what was collected. It is not what was deposited. When you collect using the machine it shows. You cannot tell me it was evidence of deposit,” Counsel Gomez told the witness.

“Yes,” the witness answered.

The witness was given the Trust Bank statement of account for the Brikama Area Council to check. Counsel Gomez asked the witness to show the Commission a deposit or transfer made in the month of May 2022 regarding his claim.

“I cannot see it. It is not here,” the witness said.

He in turn said Mustapha Joof should be responsible for the amount. 

“You issued the receipt of D262,000 without evidence of deposit or transfer,” Counsel Gomez said.

“Yes,” the witness said.

“You were engaged in fraudulent transaction,” Counsel Gomez told the witness.

“No, I was not,” the witness answered.

The witness said Mustapha Joof on the 19th of May 2022 deposited Seventeen Thousand Dalasi (D17,000) and on the 16th of May Forty-Three Thousand Dalasi (D43,000).

“Where is the balance?” Counsel Gomez asked.

“Mustapha Joof should be responsible,” he said.

“You are responsible, too. You were helping fraudulent activities in the Council,” Counsel Gomez said.

The witness was silent and did not say anything. He later insisted that Mustapha Joof is responsible. 

He was given a cash book by the Chairperson Jainaba Bah.

“There are red writings and signatures in this cash book. Please look at it and tell us whose signature and writing is this?” Chairperson Jainaba Bah asked.

“These are my own handwriting and the signatures are mine,” the witness said.

“Why will you scratch a receipt and change information contained in a cash book?” Chairperson Bah asked. 

“I found this practice there,” the witness said.

“So, you maintained it?” Chairperson Bah asked.

“Yes,” the witness answered.

“We have ascertained that most of the revenue collectors do not go to the auditors and they stop at your office. You write in their cash book and give them receipts,” Chairperson Bah said.

The witness denied this, but his answers were not in relation to the question.

Commissioner Alagie Sillah asked the witness about ten (10) transactions with the same receipt number. The witness said they were issued by the director of finance. He added that he has nothing to do with it.

“But these receipts were in your name,” Commissioner Sillah told the witness.

“Yes,” the witness answered.

The witness said he still could not see his cash book. 

Lead Counsel Gomez tendered a receipt for Twelve Million, Three Hundred and Twenty-One Thousand, Seven Hundred and Forty-Seven Dalasi, Fifty Butut (D12,321,747). It was dated 28 February 2023 bearing the name of Lamin Kanteh being revenue collected and submitted by him.