Several members of the Liberian Legislature are said to be entangled by huge debts at local banks here for overdue loans that are accruing growing interest. Most of the loans, which are now haunting the lawmakers were either collected for pre-election finances or luxury such as vehicles or housing loans. But whatever reasons these loans were taken, they are now coming back to haunt them.
This has come at the time salaries and other benefits are not fast coming bye because the government is broke and cannot afford to pay some of the lawmakers’ benefits that could have been used to offset the debts.
As a result of this, whatever enters an account of a lawmaker whose loan has been overdue is wiped off by the bank. While some lawmakers have gone back to their bankers to renegotiate payment terms or tendered in additional collaterals, some have sat out supinely.
The deduction of the loans from lawmakers’ accounts led to the last week outburst of Bong County Representative Josiah Marvin Cole, who alleges that the Guarantee Trust Bank (GT Bank) Liberia Limited, has denied him withdrawals from his personal account for the months of March and April.He accuses the bank of being very restless by its reported withdrawal of US$ 6,400.00 from his personal account during the period.
Sources at the bank told this paper over the weekend that Rep. Cole was among other lawmakers that took huge loans from the bank and since have reneged on payment. Therefore the sources said, the bank has decided to deduct the loans from every money that hits the lawmaker’s account.A source further indicated that Rep. Cole has refused to negotiate his loan standing with the bank like other lawmakers.
However, speaking to this paper in Monrovia, Sunday, May 10, via mobile phone Rep. Cole who along with Speaker Bhofal Chambers had been deliberately pushing around a Liberian contractor for some US$26,000 owed by the House of Representatives, claims his salaries for March and April this year were temporarily seized, noting that it was at which time GT Bank withdrew the money from his account.
According to him, this is the second time that the commercial bank has allegedly tampered with his account. He discloses that the bank initially deducted US$ 3000.00 without his knowledge earlier this year.
According to him, when he took up the matter with the senior management team of the bank, the amount was placed back in his account.He reveals that he has already written the plenary of the House of Representatives on the matter and anticipates that drastic actions would be taken against the Bank.
“This is not the first time that GT Bank has tampered with my account. The Bank first deducted US$ 3000.00 from my account unknown to me and when I raised the matter with them they replaced it. This is embarrassing that a commercial bank will be in a habit of stealing money from people’s account unknown to them. This is unacceptable and scaring and I hope that the House of Representatives will take keen interest into the matter,” he foams.
As normal banking practice anywhere in the world, commercial banks give loans to clients, including lawmakers based on collateral and when payments are due, they deduct their moneys from accounts of clients. Meanwhile, GT Bank is expected to formerly respond to the allegation of Rep. Cole today, Monday, May 11th, through a written communication.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor