Director of Strategy at Rokel Commercial Bank, Charles Babatunde Sylvester Sesay, has declined knowledge about the source of a 14 United Sates Dollar loan that was given to their bank in 2014 as a means of recapitalizing the institution.
In his testimony before Justice Biobele Georgewill, he stated that the statement to recapitalize and or inject fresh capital into the bank was made during their Annual General Meeting in October, 2014, by the National Commission for Privatization (NCP) in order for the bank to meet the Central Bank’s guideline of minimum adequacy.
Earlier, the Director of Finance at the Petroleum Directorate, Zainu Deen Karim, testified that the Directorate gave a loan of $14million to the NCP as approved by the former president for the recapitalization of the said bank, and that the loan was due in March 2015 but stated that it has not been paid till date.
When Sesay was quizzed by State Counsel, K. Bangura, as to what prompted the NCP to make the above statement, he said there was capital deficiency and if fresh capital hadn’t been injected, they would have had a breach of the minimum adequacy of the Central Bank’s policy.
When asked about the current state of the bank, the witness said that Rokel has enjoyed a turn around and has declared a profit of Le60 Billion subject to approval by the Central Bank.
The Executive Secretary at the National Commission for Privatization, Josephine Ansumana, also testified and acknowledged the $14 Million the Commission took on behalf of the Rokel Commercial Bank.
In her testimony, she produced bundles of documents showing how the whole process was done.
She also stated that the NCP is a major prudential shareholder for State own enterprises as stipulated in schedule one of the NCP Act of 2011.
“The strength of the government interest was 51% shares in Rokel Commercial Bank and that after the capital was injected it rose to 65.02% shares,” she revealed.
The witness further explained that the Directorate made countless of requests to the NCP for the loan to be repaid, but none proved futile.
Counsel representing former President Koroma, J.F Kamara, asked the witness whether the said amount that was given to bank has in any way helped the country and the government by the increase of the government’s shares, and the witness replied in the positive.
To that point, the Judge then referred to Section 5 subjection 2 of paragraph J of the Petroleum Directorate Act of 2011 which gives the Directorate the mandate to contribute to national budgetary and control.
“Giving money to recapitalize Rokel Commercial Bank , is it part of the mandate of the Directorate keeping in view that they are to contribute to national development,” he asked.
But the witness responded in the negative, stating that they were not the same.
“This is the crux of the issue. You the lawyers will address me on this issue. The issue is not whether the money was properly utilized or not. The issue is whether it is within the mandate of Petroleum Directorate to loan money for the recapitalization of Rokel Commercial Bank. If it is or not, what should be the consequences,” he told the lawyers.