Apex Bank manager in court for alleged embezzlement

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By Mohamed J Kargbo


Apex Bank branch Manager in Kenema, Foday M.A.S. Sesay, has appeared in a magistrate court in Freetown on allegation of embezzlement of one million, one hundred and ninety thousand, nine hundred and twenty-six new Leones and twenty five cent (NLe 1,190, 926.25), property of the bank.

The Head of Banking Operations Unit of the bank, Annah Jusu Lavalie, testified before the presiding Magistrate, Sahr Kekura on Thursday, 8th February, 2024.
She said on 1st July, 2022, a time when the new Leone currency was launched, there were lots of things to settle at the bank, so she went to the Kenema branch, where the accused was the branch manager.

She said as part of her oversight duties, she checked the cash in the vault or in the system and checked the physical cash.
Ms. Lavalie said the cash in the system was higher than the physical cash and that the accused signed on the cash certificate for correctness of what was in the system and that of the physical cash.
“I reported the matter to management at headquarters and internal investigation was instituted to investigate what was the cause,” she said, while telling the court that she was not part of the said investigation team.
The court learnt from the witness that she later understood that the accused had deposited 300 million Old Leones into the vault and that no customer deposited into the vault.

During cross-examination with Lawyer P.D. Kamara, the witness said part of her duty was to go round and spot check/ unannounced visit to ensure policies are enforced, especially with the introduction of the new Leones.
Responding to questions whether the accused had been complaining of understaff at his branch due to overload of work with the insurgence of the new Leones, the witness affirmed, but said three additional staff were sent to the branch directly under the accused’s supervision.
The witness also informed the court that the bank as whole uses “bank manager software” so do all the branches, in respond to question of the kind of software the Kenema branch uses.

According to her, she can’t be in Freetown to check the balance in the system, but that she has to be at the location in order to check the physical balance of cash at a particular branch.
Commenting on whether only the accused that had access to the vault, the witness said she was not aware of that.
The case was adjourned to the 13th February 2024.

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