July 12, 2019
By Dusuba Koroma
Former Managing Director of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB), Idrissa Aluma Kamara, has testified before Justice Georgewill’s Commission of Inquiry Room 1 that, the unsecured loans which were said to have been given to former President Koroma and 11 others, have been repaid, with the exception of one person who is yet to receive his end of year service benefit from the National Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT).
The witness stated that the 11 Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) were granted the unsecured loans running into billions of Leones at the said bank, but stated that during his tenure as Managing Director, he had only authorized loans to five PEPs.
When asked as to his source of authorization, he replied that it was the practice and culture of the bank not to return cheques issued by presidents or vice presidents, and that he had consulted with members of the board via telephone calls before he took the action.
On the issue of those that were not PEPs, the witness said loans can be refused and that there were conditions they considered before giving out loans of any nature to their customers.
When quizzed as to what risk factor they considered and who bore the greatest responsibility if the said loans were not paid, he said they do consider risk factor but rather it was the Debt Recovery Unit which is charged with the sole responsibility of making sure that loans are recovered from customers.
The witness further explained that, even though it was him that authorized the loans, but that it was still the service of the bank to retrieve them from customers.
He said the facility was granted by the bank and that it was the responsibility of the bank to collect the loans.
“When the debt is performing, the responsibility is between the Relationship Officer and the customer. In this instance, I was the Relationship Officer and personal manager of their account,” he elaborated.
When asked as to who were not tied to end of service benefit, he mentioned Amara Kuyateh, former Director General of the bank, whose loan was tied to his rent and emolument.