Finance Director of Basse Area Council Deposited Over Six Million to Personal Account – Audit

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By Makutu Manneh

The 2020 to 2022 Internal Audit report reveals that Lamin Suso, Finance Director of Basse Area Council, illegally deposited six million four hundred, sixty-one thousand and sixty-one Dalasi of council’s funds to his personal account.

Mr Suso is said to have a business named ‘Allahtentu’, where he deposited the council’s funds to its account.

Auditors say Suso wrote cheques for himself and withdrew it, and that it amounts to four million, one hundred and eighty-three thousand, five hundred Dalasi, with the claim of using it for the Basse Area Council’s activities.

Cherno Amadou Sowe, Director General of Internal Audit, informed the Local Government Commission of Inquiry that his audit team has not been presented with any evidence to show that these monies were spent on council activities.

He said the auditors were able to obtain bank statements, which revealed that Mr Suso was depositing the council’s monies into his business account.

“We have not established the source of income but most of the council’s income is basically from taxes and fees that they collect from their areas. The bulk of it, if not everything, I am pretty sure all the 6 million would be from revenue obtained through collection,” he said.

According to Sowe, the audit office sent their findings to the Basse Area Council, who responded that the Ministry of Local Government should investigate the said financial dealings to ascertain the irregularities and further stated that all monies deposited by council’s staff to their personal accounts be withdrawn and deposited back to the council’s account with immediate effect.

He said the Council management further requested that the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government and Lands and the Basse Area Council CEO make sure that the Director of finance pays back the sum of four million Dalasi to the council.

However, Sowe submitted that they were not presented with evidence showing that the 6 million was paid back to the council.

The audit team described this act as a high risk of fraud and mismanagement of taxpayers’ money.

“If such is happening, then the finance director can ideally use the money whenever he wants and that is not good financial management and we wouldn’t know how much money was supposed to have been deposited into the council’s account. The council will be at the mercy of the finance director to come forward with the amount that is in his account,” Mr Sowe said.

“The finance director should not be ‘making’ cheques to himself and going to the banks and withdrawing the money is not good practice. Any good institution doesn’t run that way. There is a lack of control and they don’t have a good system which is why something like this keeps happening.”

DG Sowe added that the Basse Area Council is running a huge overdraft both at Vista and Trust Bank, which is currently at 1.4 million dalasi at the time of auditing.

He further submitted that if the 6 million dalasi deposited into the private business account of the finance director, was deposited into the council’s account, then the overdraft would have been cleared and the bank would have had a net position of about 4 million.

“So, obviously the council’s financial situation has been made worse by the behaviour of its leadership, especially the finance director,” he said.

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