US$56,000 diamond fraud case!


Complainant narrates ordeal

By Hassan G. Koroma

Complainant and first prosecution witness in the ongoing preliminary investigation into the US$56,000 worth diamond fraud involving Olabode Babatunde and John Sannoh yesterday testified at the Freetown Magistrates’ Court No.2 presided over by Magistrate Komba Kamanda.

Mohamed Kabbay told the court that he is an agent of one Mohamed Ibrahim Basma aka ‘Amouday’, a diamond dealer in Kenema. He said he met the accused persons in Kenema, Eastern Sierra Leone and recalled that on 2nd May 2014, the first accused Olabode Babatunde, a purported American citizen, called his mobile phone and requested that he meet him at Paloma Guest House in Kenema.

He said he later met the accused at the said guest house and that the latter enquired if he had diamonds for sale, which he affirmed and took out two pieces – a six carat 50% and five carat 25%. He said they negotiated for both diamonds and agreed on a total buying price of US$56,000.

He said the accused later returned the diamonds to him and promised to call the next day to complete the transaction. The following day on 3rd May at around 11am, the accused called and asked that they meet at O&J Investment Development Company, he said, adding that he was accompanied by a colleague, Abu-Bakarr, and met the accused and another man by the name of Morlai Tarawally in the latter’s office.

The witness explained that upon entering the office, the accused requested that his colleague stay outside while they meet, on the pretext that he does not trust anyone because someone had stolen US$19,000 from him.

He said when his colleague went outside, he gave the accused the two pieces of diamond and that the latter received and placed them on a table. He said that as the accused pretended to pay him the amount agreed for the diamonds, the second accused John Sannoh walked into the room and grabbed the diamonds from the table and walked away, while the first accused collected the money and entered his hotel with orders to the security officers not to allow him inside.

He said he immediately phoned his boss to inform him about what had transpired, and then called detectives and mines officers who later came to the hotel and gained access into the room of the first accused, where they found the sum of US$29,200 plus Le49 million Leones cash, which was seized.

He said the accused was whisked to the Kenema police station where he was interrogated by detectives.

The police subsequently charged the accused on five counts of conspiracy to defraud, larceny, making false statement, forgery and altering, contrary to the laws of Sierra Leone.

The matter continues.