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Friday, July 1, 2022

ACC exonerates Bank Governor

By Alfred Koroma

In November last year, Bank Governor, Prof. Kelfala M. Kallon, publicly said they wasted $68 Million to bribe people hoarding the Leones, but Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has in a press release vindicated the professor that he didn’t offer bribe.

 ACC exonerated the Governor after what it referred to as ‘full investigations’ into the financial dealings of the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL). The Commission says Kallon’s bribery rant was a mischaracterization of the ‘Cash Swap’ operation that transpired between BSL and the commercial banks, noting that the use of the word “bribe” in that context was in error as the Professor struggled to simplify a complex banking operation.

He has been therefore advised to choose his words more carefully next time so as not to create the wrong impression for the public, ACC says.

While trying to convince MPs during a committee sitting on the need to redenominate the country’s currency, the Bank Governor told the committee that BSL wasted $68 Million to Bribe People Hoarding the Leones. A statement he later clarified after a heightened criticism.

Between  June 2020 to July 2021, the Sierra Leone experienced shortage of the Leone in the commercial banks, forcing the Central Bank to resell the Forex reserves.

 From his later clarification, it seems Kallon was trying to explain how the Central Bank managed to address the shortage of the Leone in the commercial banks. Hoarding was one of the causes of the cash shortage in the Banks.

So, Kallon argued to MPs that redenominating the Leone currency will reduce it hoarding and also reduce the huge cost the Central Bank incurs for printing huge stacks of the currency whose value is less than the cost of printing them.

But Prof. Kallon’s choice of words during his presentation wrongly placed him on the headlines with a wide range criticism.

It is likely that Bank of Sierra Leone is on the advance stage of redenominating the Leone currency for the first time in 58 years. The Bank is redenominating the current Leone by removing the last three zeros, bringing in a new 20 Leones note, and introduce huge amount of coins equivalent to the current currency.

 The first redenomination occurred in 1964 when the British West African Pound was converted into the current Leones and cents by dividing the West African Pound in which 6 pennies became 5 cents or 1 Leone, and 240 pennies became 2 Leones.

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