Fingers have pointed at the erstwhile Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Sierra Leone Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency, Raymond Gbekie to have granted conflicting loans.
This was made known by his successor, Sheka Samuel Sannoh as he testified before Justice Biobele Georgewill at the ongoing Commissions of Inquiry in Commission Room No. 1.
Sannoh told the commission that his predecessor, Raymond Gbekie’s requested for Le1,500,000,000 Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) loan.
He maintained that Gbekie did not make mention of the said loan granted to SME beneficiaries in the scanty handing over report sent to him by his predecessor via email.
He stated that the report submitted to him is conflicting because the SME loan of Le1,500,000,000 was given for which he has evidence to the effect but was not mentioned in the report.
He explained that a letter from the Ministry of Trade and Industry dated 10th October, 2018 to the CEO of the Agency titled MOU between the government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of trade and Industry and the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB) to chase debtors of the SME loan and recover the loan.
When asked by the defense counsel if that chasing of debtors means granting a loan, he responded that there will be no recovery with the loan.
He produced and tendered to the commission a list of SME loan beneficiaries totaling Le1.5 billion.
He said the granting of the loan was done by SLCB on a request that was made by Gbekie.
He told the commission that he undertook a countrywide verification of existing SME loans and the surveyors were tasked to check the existence of these SMEs on the debtors list and they found out that the beneficiaries that were contacted did not live at the addresses they gave.
He said he was not given details of the activities outlined in the scanty handing over report given by his predecessor.
He furthered that upon assumption of office in December, he requested for an Internal and External Audit review of the Agency because he was not opportune to meet the former CEO in person for a proper handing over.
He confirmed that the few things that came to his notice were not spelt out in the scanty handing over notes including the granting of SME loans.
He continued that those that he met at the Agency said they have no idea of how loans were granted, so he decided to ask the Ministry of Trade and Industry through the Permanent Secretary for an audit review of the Agency, which was granted.
He ended that in December, 2018, the P.S. was assigned to audit the Agency but he is yet to receive the audit report.