Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – An audit into the operations of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB) has uncovered significant deficiencies in the provision of supporting documents for parliamentary loans, raising concerns about transparency and adherence to best practices.
The Auditor General’s Team, tasked with reviewing the bank’s loans and advances, discovered notable gaps in documentation that were supposed to accompany the facilities according to system documentation and prudential guidelines.
During the sampling of 25 parliamentary loans, the team found a lack of supporting documents for loans granted in various categories, including building materials, furniture, cars, and rent payments. Shockingly, there were no requests for approval of loans on file, indicating a potential lapse in the loan approval process.
Furthermore, the auditors noted that crucial steps, such as credit reference checks to the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL), were missing. Invoices and receipts for some loans were absent from the files, and for those that were present, they were often unsigned, unstamped, and lacked serial numbers, raising questions about the authenticity and accountability of the transactions.
The deficiencies extended to various aspects, including the absence of gratuity computations for some loans. In cases where computations were available, they did not cover the full loan amount. Additionally, vital documents such as life-cards, registration documents, and insurance covers were not sighted. The absence of employer guarantees and recommendations for facilitation from the Office of the Clerk of Parliament added further concerns.
These revelations underscore the need for immediate attention to rectify the lapses in documentation and ensure a transparent and accountable lending process at the state-owned Sierra Leone Commercial Bank. The implications of these findings on the integrity of parliamentary loans warrant a thorough investigation and corrective measures to restore public confidence in the financial operations of the bank. ZIJ/29/1/2024