Reports reaching this medium states that, on 3rd January 2019, a financial institution in Sierra Leone, PHB Bank also known as Keystone Bank, reported a matter of an alleged conspiracy by some members of its staff to defraud the institution, to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Headquarters in Freetown.
According to report, on the aforesaid date, eight staff of the institution allegedly used the Bank’s GL (General Ledger) to credit the account of some staff of the same institution. The GL is a fixed account where monies are lodged to serve as reserve for the institution and as records.
Upon the basis of its claim, the eight staff were invited to the CID for interrogation, after which they were detained for 4 days and denied bail. All eight personnel denied the claims made against them.
During our investigations, it was revealed that the Head of Information Communication Technology (ICT) Department of the Keystone Bank, Philip J Saidu had on several occasions last year allegedly given some United States Dollars (USD) to a staff of the marketing department, the late Samuella Mina, who then deposited same into her personal account and later withdrew them. It was also revealed that other members of staff in that same department received similar amount of money and did similar transactions. Furthermore, it was revealed that this has been a syndicate that has been going on in the Bank unnoticed.
After spending 4 days in custody, all eight accused staff were then released on bail, some in the tune of US$ 50,000, whilst others US$ 100,000.
The accused staff were then suspended without pay, pending the outcome of the investigations by the CID. The aggrieved staff then took the matter to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in respect of infringement on their labour rights.
The Ministry of Labour as a response, called on both parties, the affected staff and the Bank management to iron out their differences. After conducting investigations and getting the side of both parties, the ministry made the following recommendations:
- That the Bank Management pays salaries to the said staff until they are found guilty.
- That the Bank revokes the suspension letters given to the affected workers with immediate effect
- That the affected staffs have the liberty to resign and be paid all benefits due to them
- That there is no labour law in the world, which empowers an employer to withhold the salaries of workers who are under investigation for any alleged offence.
According to one of the affected workers, since their release on bail, they have not been paid their salaries. Further investigations by this medium discovered that the Bank has not conformed to the recommendations of the Labour Ministry as stated above. The Bank has deliberately failed to lift the suspension of the affected workers, which is in contravention of the Ministry’s directives.
To get the side of the management of the Bank, this writer in the company of other journalists, called on the Managing Director of Keystone Bank, Mr. Collins, who responded aggressively and disrespectfully to the battery of journalists present. This behaviour was a direct result of the refusal of the journalists to disclose their source to him as he demanded. He stressed that he does not have anything to say to them, since they refuse to tell him the source of their information and virtually walked them out of the building with an air of arrogance.
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