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[June 11, 2014]
Defence Cross-Examines Witness in GRA Fraud Trial
(AllAfrica Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Lawyer J B Sambou, the defense counsel for three out of the five accused persons in the over D2 million fraud criminal trial involving the state against Alieu B Colley, Lamin K Fofana, Fatou Phatty, Ebrima Cham, Saikou Ceesay and Mawya Jammeh, on Monday cross-examined Musa Saidykhan, the head of IT department at the GRA, who is the first prosecution witness in the case at the Special Criminal Court in Banjul, presided over by Justice Emmanuel Amadi. During his cross-examination, PW1 told the SCC that the 1st accused person (Alieu B Colley) who was convicted, worked with The Gambia Revenue Authority (GRA) at the Finance department, stating that he cannot remember the date of the alleged fraud nor can he remember the last date the alleged fraud was terminated as revealed in the printout.
According to him, the alleged fraud was discovered by the domestic tax headed by Essa Jallow, adding that it was found out by the said department that certain payments that are in the physical files are not reflected in the system. He adduced that the fraud was initially discovered through a perusal of the files and not through the IT system.
When the defence counsel asked the witness as to why would the IT system allow personnel handling payment to make deletions in the system, PW1 responded that it is an industrial standard that a system is build out of the business process and it goes through a requirement specification in which the owners of the business processed will tell the programmer which controls are supposed to be in the system. He further explained that the IT does not allow or disallow anyone to do anything in the system, except when an approval comes from the relevant department and that one have to understand the genesis of the control in the system and the process that was taken to allow a cashier to enter and delete. The witness stated that no one gave the convict (Alieu B Colley) the authorization to delete entries in the system, saying the authorization given instead was for him to do his job as a cashier, which include entering payments and deleting errors if there are any, although this access was not given to the 2nd and 3rd accused persons (Lamin K Fofana and Fatou Phatty).
He then identified a bunch of documents showed to him by the defence counsel as well as some receipts and summary of printouts and she applied to tender them in evidence as an exhibit, but the state counsel A M Yusuf objected to the admissibility of the documents on the grounds that they were not the original copies.
Lawyer J B Sambou at that juncture applied for the state to produce the original copies and the court granted the request. The case was subsequently adjourned to the 11th June 2014 for continuation.
It could be recalled that the accused persons namely; Alieu B Colley (now convict), Lanim K Fofana, Fatou Phatty, Ebrima Cham, Saikou Ceesay and Mawya Jammeh were charged with five-counts of criminal offence ranging from economic crime, conspiracy to commit a felony, stealing by public servant to fraudulent false accounting.
The particulars of the offence on count one stated that the accused persons between the months of February 2012 and July 2013 in Banjul, intentionally diverted the sum of D2, 637,212.77 being monies received from taxpayers into their private use, an act which is detrimental to the economy of The Gambia. Count two further alleged that the accused persons between the months of February 2012 and July in Banjul being employees of the GRA, corruptly and dishonestly diverted the sum of D2, 637,212.77 being monies received from taxpayers into their private use, an act which is detrimental to the economy of The Gambia.
On count three, the prosecution alleged that the accused persons between the months of February 2012 and July 2013 at Banjul and diverse places conspired amongst themselves to wit, to defraud the GRA the total sum of D2, 637, 212.77.
Count four indicated that the accused persons between the months of February 2012 and July 2013 in Banjul, being employees of the GRA stole the total sum of D2, 637, 212.77 being monies received from taxpayers and belonging to the GRA.
The particulars of Count five which is the offence of fraudulent false accounting alleged against Alieu B Colley (now convict), revealed that the 1st accused (now convict) between months of February 2012 and July 2013 in Banjul, being an employee of the GRA as a sub cashier with intent to defraud deleted the entries of payment made on the GAMTAXET system to conceal a fraud.
Alieu B Colley, the 1st accused pleaded guilty to all the charges and he was sentenced on count one to pay a fine of D100, 000 in default to serve 4 years imprisonment likewise on count two, while on count three he was sentenced to pay a fine of D5, 000 in default to serve a 2 year imprisonment.
However, on count four and five he was sentenced to pay a fine of D10, 000 in default to serve 2years on each count and he was separately ordered to pay a compensation of D1, 300, 000 to the GRA for the loss sustained in the process.
Copyright The Daily Observer. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).
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