One of the government owned banks, Rokel Commercial Bank (RCB) has been exposed to have been giving out billions of inappropriate loans.
This is not unconnected to the fact that the bank gave out loans without security collateral as indicated by the Sierra Leone Audit Report of 2018.
That the bank gave out loans to customers without obtaining recent audited financial statements in order to determine whether the customers have a good financial standing adding that the bank issued unaudited financial statements.
The Auditor General’s report indicated that during their review of loan and advances, they uncovered that an applicant opened an account in April of 2018 of which there was no movement in the account in question up to the time of 31st December 2018 and a lone of One Hundred and Twenty-Six Million Leones (Le 126,000,000) was issued for Twenty-Four (24) months by the RCB.
That a letter of undertaking from the Ministry of Information and Communications stated that the account holder has been in employment of the Ministry for a period of one year contrary to his employment letter dated 25th September 2018 and on an employment contract commencing 1st August 2018 which was as renewable contract based on performance.
That the letter of undertaking stated that his terminal benefits of Le240,000,000 would be paid into his account in the event of separation to offset the loan which was contrary to the employment of the customer which stated that he would only be entitled to Fifteen (15%) ex-gratia of his gross annual salary.
Responding to the Audit claims, the MD maintained that the customer in question has been operating the account by making deposits and withdrawals from the account including his backlog salary payments of Le58.5 Million which was deposited into his account on 30th October 2018 and also noted that there was a salary payment of Le18.5 Million on 4th December 2018.
The report also indicated that the sum of Seven Hundred and Four Million Leones (Le704,000,000), Four Billion Leones (Le4,000,000,000) and Five Hundred Million Leones (Le500,000,000) were given out as loans without appropriate procedures on the 18th May 2015, 15th November 2017 and 19th November 2018 respectively.
The MD’s response indicated that a customer, Modern Elementary was unable to provide the bank with audited financial statements, but that review of their credit capability was assessed based on their quantum of business transaction through RCB.
He noted that another customer Fawaz Produce operates as a group which is Fawaz Produce and Fawaz Building noting that they normally use the financial statement of Fawaz Building to assess the group.
The report recommended that the RCB should ensure that due process and all other relevant requirements such as audited financial statements are available for all corporate customers before issuing out loans in order to prevent the bank from bad loans which could in turn results in liquidity.