Tuesday, December 5

BsAC budget officer testifies over suspicious transactions

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Mr Touray was appointed in 2008 as a revenue collector. He rose through the ranks to become a senior revenue collector, before eventually becoming accounting assistant in January 2020. In August of the same year, he was appointed as the budget officer.

His testimony on Thursday mainly centred on budgeting and budget processes, as well as the withdrawals he made from the accounts of the Basse Area Council and the business accounts of the Finance Director Lamin Suso.

Director of Finance Lamin Suso is accused of misappropriation of council’s funds.

At a certain point during hearing, Chairperson Jainaba Bah asked the witness: “It is correct that you have been doing withdrawals and deposits into various accounts of the council?”.

The witness responded in the affirmative, saying the Director of Finance Lamin Suso used to send him to the bank to do withdrawals for him. The said withdrawals, which dated from 2018 to 2022, were put to the witness and he confirmed them.

“You are saying in all these transactions he will send you to do the withdrawals and give him,” Lawyer Patrick Gomez asked.

“Yes,” the witness said.

He further testified that some of the withdrawals were for his per diems and others were for personal allowances. The witness added that some of the withdrawals were for payments to contractors.

The witness said he complained that it was not a proper accounting method because payments should be made to contractors directly. He added that he raised the issue severally with the CEO.

He recalled that some of the withdrawals were made from one bank to another for staff salary payments. The total withdrawals the witness made were about D2,000,000. In one of the transactions, the witness withdrew 764,564. He withdrew D376,000 in another transaction and 400,000 in another.

The witness said all these were for salary payments, adding that the cheques were approved by the CEO. He also said there were vouchers raised for the withdrawals.

The witness said he was given 50,000 and 26,000 to deposit in the account, which he said he deposited, claiming that these were monies the director of finance received from revenue collectors.

On the imprest funds given to him, the witness said the cheques were signed by both the CEO and finance director. He said he only received 10,000 as imprest, while the others were his per diems and night allowances.

The witness said the CEO and finance director used to conduct transactions bypassing the internal auditor.

“That was wrong,” he said.

Moreover, the internal auditor herself, Fatoumatta M. Saho, previously testifying before the Commission (Monday and Tuesday said withdrawals were made at BsAc without following due processes, and that there was no evidence of vouchers

The witness confirmed what she had said before the Commission, as she stated that the council made payments without involving the internal auditor.

“That was a bad practice,” she held.

Similarly, he admitted knowing that it was wrong to issue cheques in his name. He claimed it was a mistake.

“You knew that and you knew you were not supposed to do that,” Patrick Gomez put to the witness.

The witness said when his two bosses, CEO and director of finance, assigned them to perform a task, he felt that he had an obligation to carry it out.

“You were afraid,” Gomez said.

The witness agreed with the Counsel.

The Lawyer put it to the witness that, that cannot be an excuse because the number of transactions is huge and dates back to 2018. He also put it to the witness that the council does not follow financial rules and best practices.

The witness on the other hand blamed everyone: “I blame everyone for it, starting from the CEO going down.”

In 2018 alone, the witness withdrew D367,700 from 4 different transactions. In 2019, the witness made a total withdrawal of D695,000.

He was asked to provide the vouchers for those transactions, but he said the vouchers were removed from the council and taken to the CEO’s residence.

“The vouchers are mixed up. It was done by the labourers of the council,” he added.

He was tasked to find all the vouchers of those transactions and present them to the Commission.