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Top 2 of Sierra Leone's top bank released from jail

By Aminata Phidelia Allie

After weeks in police custody and later on remand, the Managing Director of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, Crispin Bishop Deigh was yesterday released from the Pademba Road prison after he went through the bail conditions granted on Tuesday.

Three others, his deputy Patrick Conteh, John Benjamin Sankoh and Salieu Mohamed Barrie also returned home.

A source at the office of the Master and Registrar told Politico that Festus Crosbie fulfilled his bail conditions but could not be released to late notification and that an order had already been made for him to be released today. The others including Simeon Kabba Khalu are still in prison.

It followed the decision by Magistrate Komba Kamanda to grant bail to the twelve people.

Director of public prosecution, Sulaiman Bah, told Magistrate Komba Kamanda that they were not ready to move on with their case, asking for a long adjournment of three weeks.

He said “due to the nature of the adjournment, we are not objecting to bail”.

Charles Francis Margai, on behalf of the accused persons, emphasised “the presumption of innocence until proven guilty,” and pleaded with the court to give a “realistic” bail condition. The Magistrate replied that “all bail conditions are in line with the offence and I am going to take into consideration the amount involved”.

In the first file, the nine accused persons: Simeon Kabba Khalu, Festus Crosbie, John Benjamin Sankoh, Festus Abionor Jones, Salieu Mohamed Barrie, Yakuba Kargbo, Daniel Dennis Mattia, Patrick Saidu Conteh and Crispin Bishop Deigh, were granted bail in the sum of Le5 billion each and two sureties.

Sureties were to be property owners and must submit their titled deeds to the master and registrar of the court.

The accused persons must also surrender all their travel documents to the court and must seek the master and registrar’s permission if they wished to travel out of Freetown.

The second file, which included Simeon Kabbah Khalu, Chief Tony Izubundu Chinyere, Daniel Dennis Mattia, Henry Emmanuel Baio and Samuel Kainde Huggins, were granted bail in the sum of Le 1 billion each with the same bail conditions.

The 12 are being preliminarily investigated on a 9-count charge, in varying order, bordering on conspiracy to defraud and intent to defraud SLCB and FiBank, an amount exceeding Le 21 billion and US$ 1 million, obtaining a credit under false pretenses amounting to hundreds of millions of leones, failure to report a suspicious intent to defraud and issuing cheques against insufficient funds.

© Politico 11/07/13