By Dauda Koroma
The Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) declared on August 24 that the Flexi Group’s activities in the country were illegal. According to the bank, the group has been operating as a financial institution without the required licence, “soliciting and accepting deposits from the public for investment” purposes.
Police findings indicate that the company has been unable to account for the number of investors or the amount of money it has solicited from the public. Furthermore, there is no evidence to show that the money received from clients was electronically transferred to their online accounts created by the company.
Acting on intelligence, officers from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) conducted a raid at the Flexi Group’s offices located at No. 42 Jui-Waterloo Highway and arrested the acting manager, Joseph Sorie Kargbo (Sierra Leonean), and Bernard Porsiano Barigye, a Ugandan representative of the company in Sierra Leone.
According to documents seen by this press, Flexi Group Limited Trade Company was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission by Joseph Sorie Kargbo using a copy of the passport of an Australian national named Coppared Paul John.
Kargbo said he was introduced to the company by a Ugandan citizen named Herbert via WhatsApp. Herbert told Kargbo that the parent company was based in Australia and entrusted him with the responsibility of registering the company and securing an office space for them in Sierra Leone.
The company solicited financial deposits from the public with a minimum investment of $40, promising a profit of 0.04% per hour payable through Orange Money, according to court documents. However, a two-year waiting period would be required before investors could access their capital investment.
This week, Joseph Sorie Kargbo and Bernard Porsiano Barigye were formally charged with conspiracy, operating a deposit-taking institution without a licence, and trading in foreign currency other than the Leone, all of which amount to breaches of the Bank of Sierra Leone Act of 2019 and the Other Financial Services Act of 2001.
It is alleged that between July 1 and August 23 of this year, the company engaged in illegal financial activities, including trading in foreign currency other than the legal tender of Sierra Leone. Also, it is believed that the accused persons conspired with others to operate a financial deposit-taking institution without the required licence issued by the central bank.
The two accused persons were arraigned before Principal Magistrate Mark Ngegba of Pademba Road Court No.1 on September 4. The defendants lack legal representation and were remanded at the Male Correctional Center until the next hearing date of September 12.