Sainabou Martin-Sonko, CEO Kanifing Municipal Council
By Buba Gagigo
Following the fraud allegations levelled against the CEO of KMC and other staff members by the mayor of the municipality, the line ministry dispatched a team of inspectors to look into the matter and verify the authenticity of the fraud allegations. The final report of that inspection team has recommended that the CEO, Sainabou Martin Sonko, Baboucarr Sanyang, Bakary Jawo and Dr. Alieu Keita should account for the monies that AGIB bank has debited from KMC’s main account with the bank amounting to D985, 539.65 being the outstanding balance of the 12 million Dalasis that the KMC Staff Welfare Association (KMCSWA) took from the bank.
The findings of the inspection team conclude that there was indeed a loan guarantee purportedly issued by KMC on behalf of the KMC Staff Welfare Association to the tune of Twelve Million Dalasis (D12, 000,000) for the purchase of a plot of land for the senior management staff of the KMC.
The report stated that the plot of land measuring 100mx100m located at Brufut, belongs to one Mariama Fanneh and was valued at GMD7.5 million and GMD4.5 million, being open market and forced market value prices respectively, by Agbon & Associate, a Real Estate Consultant firm.
The report indicated that the real estate consulting firm was recommended to the KMCSWA by AGIB bank because of their ‘professionalism’ in the way they do their property valuation over the years.
“In addition, when the KMCSWA applied for the said loan for the purchase of the aforementioned parcel of land; the bank did ask the Staff Welfare Association to provide the valuation price for the land. However, the Association could not provide the bank with a certified property valuation officer and that was when the bank recommended them to a property valuation company that have done similar business for clients of the bank before, who happened to be Agbon & Associate
“When the bank realized that the forced sales value price for the said land was D4.5 million and the open market value price at D7.5 million, the bank decided not to take the Lease documents for the said land as collateral and instead requested for another type of collateral. This was when the idea of having a corporate guarantor was brought to the fore. This, according to the bank, was requested for in the event that the KMCSWA defaulted in re-paying the loan, and they wanted to recover their monies even if they are to sell the parcel of land at the forced sales value price and the market value price they would not be in a position to recover the loan that the KMCSWA was applying,” the report revealed.
The report also revealed that despite Agbon & Associate informing the KMCSWA of the real cost of the plot of land as per their valuation, the latter decided to go ahead and purchase the plot of land at Ten Million Dalasis (D10, 000,000) according to Baboucarr Sanyang (the treasurer of the association).
The Inspection team also gathered that there is no loan policy, instruments or document guiding the issuance of loans or the provision of loan guarantee within the KMC.
“However, it was noted that, if, there is any possibility of obtaining a loan for the KMC or if the KMC was to issue a loan guarantee on behalf of any entity within the Council, then it has to come to the attention of the General Council for ratification. Once ratified by the General Council, the CEO would have to communicate the resolution of the General Council to the Minister for Local Government and Lands for approval,” the report states.
On the purported list of 35 senior staff that were interested in plots of land, the report discovered that two of them (Fatoumatta Saho Cham and Ebrima S.K Fofana) were no longer working for the KMC.
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“The Inspection Team engaged the people who are on the list, and apart from Dr. Alieu Keita and the CEO Sainabou, who are on the list and are aware of the transaction, the rest all claimed not to be aware of any plot of land being negotiated on their behalf nor have any of them discussed with the KMCSWA to take a loan on their behalf to purchase a parcel of land for them,” it stated.
“According to Sainabou Martin-Sonko and Baboucarr Sanyang, the reason for applying for a loan of 12 million Dalasis while they agreed with the landowner to purchase the land at 10 million Dalasis was that they wanted to use part of the monies to pay for the clearing of the parcel of land, pay for the demarcation of the plots and for the bank to deduct their charges. According to the duo, if they had applied for the exact amount, they would have fallen short of the agreed purchase price with the landowner,” the report revealed.
The report also reveals that the executive of the KMCSWA comprises thirteen persons but, it appears that only four persons (BakaryJawo-President, Baboucarr Sanyang- Treasurer, Mam Kaba Bass-Vice-president and a non-executive member Sainabou Martin Sonko) are the ones actively running the executive.
“When this’executive’ meets they mostly do not have a quorum, yet the quartet mostly take decisions on behalf of the KMCSWA, thereby violating the constitution of the association. Other members of the executive were neither involved in the transaction for the loan nor were they involved in the negotiation for the purchase of a parcel of land at Brufut.
“The people involved in the negotiation of the loan are CEO Sainabou Martin-Sonko, Baboucarr Sanyang, and BakaryJawo. There is no evidence to suggest that the trio were negotiating the loan on behalf of KMCSWA. We could not find any minutes of the executive meeting where the matter of a loan was discussed, nor do we see any evidence to suggest that the staff and management of the Council were aware of the transaction of the said loan,” the report stated.
The report also indicates that, the corporate guarantee letter for the loan was signed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sainabou Martin- Sonko and Director of Finance, Dr Alieu Keita of the KMC, thereby committing the Council to take full responsibility for the loan in case of default.
The report states the loan guarantee was neither brought to the attention of the General Council for deliberation nor was the consent of the MOLRG sought.
“It was discovered that the only thing that was stopping AGIB bank from approving the loan was the Institutional or corporate guarantee letter since they have rejected the idea of using the land lease document as collateral as earlier noted,” the report said.
The findings indicate that, upon receiving the corporate guarantee letter, AGIB immediately disbursed the funds to the account of the KMCSWA with the bank.
“On the same date, GMD10, 000,000.00 (Ten Million Dalasis) was transferred to the account of Mariama Fanneh with AGIB as the alleged cost of the land. GMD1, 500,000.00 (One million five hundred thousand dalasis) was withdrawn by Baboucarr Sanyang – the treasurer of the KMCSWA,” the report indicated.
The report also reveals that Mr. Sanyang ostensibly paid the said amount to Mr. Sheriff Sarr of Sarr Construction Company situated in Kanifing, Jimpex Road, who is a contractor and a former councillor of KMC for clearing, demarcating and paving of roads in the acquired land and payment of capital gain tax to the GRA. However, this could not be substantiated by the inspection team, nor could Mr. Sanyang furnish the inspection team with any genuine receipt of payment emanating from Sarr Construction Company and GRA.
Below are the Recommendations of the findings.
“The Kanifing Municipal Council should desist from serving as corporate guarantor to any association within the Council.
“CEO Sainabou Martin Sonko, Baboucarr Sanyang, Bakary Jawo and Dr. Alieu Keita must account for the monies that the AGIB bank has debited from the KMC main account with the bank amounting to D985, 539.65 being the outstanding balance of the 12 million Dalasis that the KMCSWA took from the bank.
“The executive members of the association should take up their responsibilities as dictated by their constitution.
“Mr. Baboucarr Sanyang must account for the D1, 500,000 that he personally withdrew from the KMCSWA account, and he alleges to have paid it to Mr. Sarr.
“Only the executive members of the association as stipulated in their constitution should be signatories to their accounts.
“The CEO should be replaced as a signatory to the account of the Welfare Association”.