By Sahr Eric George
Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – In a recent court hearing, Francess Lawson, the Branch Manager of LAPO in Makeni, faced serious allegations of embezzlement and fraud amounting to Le 104,416. Sulaiman Jalloh, the head of loan recoveries at LAPO micro-finance, testified against Lawson, revealing the intricate details of the case.
Lawson is in court responding to four count charges, including embezzlement, forgery, and fraud, among others. The police alleged that Lawson engaged in these activities on various dates between July 23 and August 31, 2023.
Jalloh, a resident of Allen Town, explained to the court that as the branch manager, Lawson’s responsibilities included collecting loans on behalf of LAPO in Makeni, Bombali District, Northern Sierra Leone. It is alleged that Lawson, in collaboration with unidentified individuals, defrauded LAPO micro-finance of Le 104,416.
The court heard that Jalloh, upon receiving an internal audit report between July 23 and August 31, 2023, discovered instances of embezzlement and fraud at the Makeni Branch. The audit report was described as alarming, prompting Jalloh to report the matter to the police. As a result, Lawson was subsequently incarcerated and charged in court.
Jalloh confirmed that he still possessed the audit report and assured the court that he would produce and tender it on the next adjournment date.
During the proceedings, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Inspector Ibrahim Sheik Mansaray requested a specific date for Jalloh to bring the audit report to court for identification and tendering.
Defence lawyer J. Sesay did not object to the prosecution’s request for an adjournment date. However, Sesay also sought bail for his client. Despite the defence’s request, Magistrate Sahr Kekura ruled against granting bail to Lawson and ordered her to remain remanded in custody at the Female Correctional Centre in Freetown.
The case has been adjourned to February 2, 2024, as the legal proceedings continue to unfold. SEG/31/1/2024