By Mustapha Jallow
Alkali Bah, the deputy manager of the Vista Bank Gambia Limited on Wednesday said four (4) of their staff were suspended pending a police investigation into an alleged fraud involving staff of the bank and officials of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA).
Bah confirmed to Foroyaa that the four suspected bank staff have been suspended. He explained that six of their staff were allegedly involved in the matter, but only 4 were found to be directly involved in the case.
On this basis, Bah said the bank only suspended these staff but their services have not been terminated.
Bah made these statements at Vista Bank head office in Kairaba Avenue, following Foroyaa’s publication about the alleged fraud case in which the staff of the bank allegedly forged the signatures of officials at Gambia Port Authority to withdraw an amount worth about D2,591,000 (two million five hundred and ninety-one thousand dalasis) in six cheque withdrawals.
“Around December 2022,” Bah explained, “we received this complaint from GPA that they had gone through their account and noticed some transactions into the account; which they are suspicious as unauthorized transactions. So, when the matter got to me as a deputy manager of the bank, I then asked GPA to write and send us their concerns; which they did. But since it’s a third party issue, we immediately referred it to our internal audit office for investigation.’’
He said they later decided to report the matter to the police who are currently investigating the case.
“The staff (allegedly) involved are fully cooperating with the police in ensuring that the truth is established,’’ Bah said.
He informed Foroyaa that the staff involved were not arrested, instead, they were called for questioning by the police.
Bah said all six cheque withdrawals were made at different branches of Vista Bank – therefore, he said they expected different people to have one way or the other involved in the transactions.
“And the way banking services used to be done, we expected two or three people to be involved directly in this alleged fraud,’’ he said.
Bah said the bank has credited the amount into GPA’s account, adding this does not mean they have accepted the alleged fraudulent activity.
Meanwhile, our source also confirmed to Foroyaa that indeed Vista Bank had returned the amount to the GPA’s current account.
In our recent report, a source who is familiar with matter told this paper that GPA officials were invited for questioning by investigators at the police headquarters in Banjul.
The source said the cash-office manager of GPA was detained by police investigators after questioning him. He was held for 3 days before being granted bail and asked to be reporting on bail.
However, the six (6) Vista Bank cheques seen by this paper showed that the withdrawals were D610,000, D160,000, D621,000, D600,000, D300,000, D300,000, which is totalling to an amount of D2,591,000. These withdrawals were made on different dates through alleged forged signatures of GPA officials.