Alusine Sesay: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 May 2018:
Your Honourable Sir, we hope your new appointment marks the end of the notorious selective justice system that dominated the government of Ernest Bai Koroma, and will bring to justice criminals – the likes of Momoh Konte, who have stolen millions of Dollars of public funds for their own greedy, selfish and private use.
After going through the management accounts of NATCOM as requested by the 2018 Transition Team, a credible source has confirmed that there is overwhelming evidence of massive fraud involving millions of US Dollars and that the entire board chaired by Momoh Konte and every member of the senior management team are all culpable.
Even worse, some of them will face prosecution for blatant fraud on a massive scale with Momoh Konte as first accused. Having smelt the walls of Pademba Prison, the nonexecutive chairman of NATCOM, Momoh Konte (Photo), hurriedly convened an emergency press conference on Thursday 19th April 2018, in which he tried to undress himself of the coat of blame, but only to put it on the senior management of NATCOM.
Momoh Konte is currently busy trying to bribe his way out of the country, leaving behind his accomplices virtually on their own.
The maximum cost of construction for the Headquarters of NATCOM at Hill Station was fixed at $4.5 million for a 6-storey building, as approved by the Board in 2015 under the chairmanship of Momoh Konte. All NATCOM would have to do upon completion of the construction was to receive the keys to the finished building for furnishing. And nothing else.
The agreed figure of $4.5 million covers the cost of the bare skeletal structure and the finishing, which consists of: doors, windows, internal partitioning, electrical installation, lighting, tiling, toilet facilities, plumbing, painting, paving of car park, air conditioning, etc.
According to the agreement with ICC – the construction company, NATCOM pays by instalments based on the completed mini-phases. The current phase of the project is the bare skeletal structure without most of the items listed above for the finishing. NATCOM has been billed a total of over $16.9 million at the time of our investigation.
You may want to know how a building initially budgeted to cost no more than $4.5 million has now cost over three times. As a matter of fact, the maximum cost was later raised to $7 million for the same 6-storey building for no apparent reason, even before hiring the construction company, ICC.
Shortly after signing of the contract, Momoh Konte colluded with the Lebanese construction company ICC to use the project to steal millions of Dollars from the coffers of NATCOM, by setting a simple formula. They agreed on an average cost of $1.8 million per floor.
Using this dodgy formula, all they had to do to make more money was to increase the number of floors without reinforcing the foundation to carry the additional weight of the building. Using this formula, the final amount for the initial 6 floors was increased from the initial Board approved figure of $4.5 million to $10.8 million (6 x $1.8 million).
As a way of laundering some of the stolen money from this project, Momoh Konte went into a separate deal for NATCOM contractors, ICC to construct mansions for himself, which he intends to sell later. This has been going on concurrently using NATCOM HQ project funds.
We have photographs of the first mansion under this corrupt deal as evidence, and there are unconfirmed reports that ICC is also constructing other private mansions for various stakeholders responsible for providing protection for Momoh Konte and his cabal of thieves.
The number of floors was initially increased from 6 to 8 floors as “additional works” costing a total of $14.4 million (8 x $1.8 million). As the construction progressed towards the 8th floor, Momoh Konte later told some of his fellow Board members that they needed to raise money to give to the Pa (the former president Koroma) as farewell gift.
They agreed to do so by increasing the number of floors for the last time from 8 to 10 floors, with a new total cost of $18 million ($1.8 million x 10) of which the sum of $13.1 million had already been paid to ICC at the time of our investigation.
The Commission has been billed a total of $16.9 million out of the corruptly set amount of $18 million at the time of our investigation. We expect all of these figures to have increased by now, with the total billed amount approaching or exceeding the $18 million mark as per the gentleman’s agreement between Momoh Konte and ICC.
The BoQ (Bill of Quantity) in the construction industry is the document that details the quantity of each building material used in the project: sand, stones, cement, iron rods, etc. The SLPP led government should request the authentic and original version of this document for NATCOM HQ project. We have received unconfirmed reports that there is a fake version of the BoQ that reflects the highly overinflated cost of the project.
We have been doing our investigation to ascertain the actual cost of the NATCOM HQ building project. According to a volunteer Civil Engineer and an Accountant, both of whom visited the construction site at least three times, the total cost of the building with all 10 floors, including the finishing, labour and taxes, amounted to a figure which we have rounded up to $5 million for arithmetic convenience.
We also decided to give the construction company a generous profit of $2 million (40% of cost of construction). Furthermore, we were reliably informed by our volunteer Civil Engineer that, construction projects all over the world do have a corruption factor of between 10% and 15% of the true cost of the construction project.
In the particular case of Sierra Leone, our Civil Engineer confided to us that NATCOM could not have embarked on this building project without factoring the Pa himself. And so we will add $1.85 million for contingency and corruption factor as recommended by our volunteer Accountant.
The maximum cost of the finished building with all 10 floors ready for furnishing is therefore $8.85 million i.e. $5 million + $2 million + $1.85 million. This is less than half of the $18 million negotiated by Momoh Konte with ICC.
From what we already know, we can authoritatively state that the total sum of just over $8 million has been embezzled from this project, a significant amount of which has been siphoned to overseas bank accounts.
This means only about $5 million out of the $13.1 million already paid by NATCOM has been spent on the project at the time of our investigation: i.e. $13.1 million – $8 million = $5.1 million. The balance of $3.8 million ($16.9 million – $13.1 million) was outstanding at the time of our investigation.
These figures show that Momoh Konte and his cabal of thieves have stolen far more money than the actual amount spent on the project so far. The final cost is therefore projected to exceed $18 million by the time the keys to the finished building are handed over to NATCOM. Even more seriously, the outstanding balance of $3.8 million will now have to be paid from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
The decision to add extra floors was taken way after the foundation had been constructed and a few floors already planted on it. Starting with safety concerns, a foundation that was designed and engineered to carry 6 floors is now carrying the weight of 10 floors.
Given the dramatic increase in weight per square metre on the foundation, the SLPP led government should put the construction of this building on hold, pending full technical inspection by independent Structural Engineers to ensure that the building will be safe.
It must also be noted that this building is located on the edge of a hill behind the American Embassy and is less than a mile from the mudslide disaster site. There is therefore a need to carry out a Deep Soil Test to ensure that the building has not been erected on top of a treacherous layer of clay soil that may slide the whole building down the valley at the peak of the rainy season.
The independent Structural Engineers should also advise on the maximum magnitude of earthquake the foundation will be able to withstand without crashing, given the additional weight on the foundation.
We have barely scratched the surface of the massive acts of corruption that have been perpetrated at NATCOM totalling millions of US Dollars under the chairmanship of Momoh Konte. Change of government as decided by the people of Sierra Leone in the 2018 elections has successfully applied the brakes on the corrupt activities of Momoh Konte and his boss in crime. Otherwise, the Building Project of NATCOM would have been further inflated to over $30 million after the 2018 elections according to our credible sources.
Momoh Konte was given the full confidence by the Pa that he was going to be selected as Running Mate. This led him to do virtually anything the Pa requested. Momoh then used his assumed role as future Vice President to bulldoze decisions at both Board and management levels at NATCOM.
After the embarrassing disappointment on the promise to select him as Running Mate, the Pa allegedly gave Momoh Konte the impression that he could influence his appointment as cabinet Minister or Ambassador which he reluctantly accepted as consolation. This led to Momoh Konte converting his official government vehicle with registration, NTC 100, into a mobile Cash Dispenser (ATM) to promote himself with monies stolen from NATCOM during the 2018 political campaigns.
We have photographs taken in Kabala as evidence. Cash from NTC 100 ATM was then handed over to friends and relatives of Momoh Konte in Koinadugu District for direct distribution to voters as electoral bribes. The voters rightly accepted the cash which is actually their own money stolen from them through NATCOM, and then failed to give Momoh Konte the electoral outcome that would have elevated him to a cabinet Minister or Ambassador.
There are many other criminal activities that have been committed by Momoh Konte inside and outside of NATCOM, including but not limited to:
1 Momoh Konte’s connivance with one mobile phone operator to kill other rivals in the sector.
2 The International Gateway and the secrecy behind the unregistered monitoring contract that was facilitated from behind the scenes by the Pa himself, on behalf of someone close to him who is currently living in Ghana.
3 The fictitious NATCOM project relating to the Sierra Leone High Commission in Ghana, purportedly backed by an Executive Order that is yet to be produced by Momoh Konte to justify the money spent on the said project.
4 The numerous bank withdrawals from the coffers of NATCOM without supporting documents under the verbal instructions of Momoh Konte.
5. The ongoing SIMBox fraud being organised from behind the scenes by Momoh Konte and Frank Manja.
6 The exploitation of journalists by Momoh Konte to cover up the criminal activities being perpetrated at NATCOM.
7 Momoh Konte’s secret role in the embezzlement of Ebola funds and the illegal diversion of other related resources for his personal benefit.
8 Illegal waivers offered to licensees by Momoh Konte in exchange for kickbacks.
9 Bribery by Momoh Konte in the form of Corporate Social Responsibility donated to the Ombudsman and other institutions in exchange for protection or political support for himself.
10 Full listing of fake certificates, purportedly from the US, that were submitted to Parliament by Momoh Konte in support of his nomination for chairmanship of NATCOM.
11 The truth behind the corrupt exoneration of Momoh Konte in relation to the timbergate affair as exposed by Aljazeera TV in 2011.
12 The mass recruitment at NATCOM and UADF of over 30 relatives and friends of politicians in exchange for political support in Momoh Konte’s bid to become Running Mate that ended in failure.
13 Momoh Konte abused his membership of the 2007 Transition Team of former President Koroma by threatening banks he owed money to write-off all his loans. We have a copy of this letter.
14. Momoh Konte was previously arrested by the CID under the instruction of NATCOM for committing SIMBox fraud. He was caught red-handed. But as you would expect, a single phone call with orders from above set him free, even before taking down any statement from him. He was appointed chairman of the same NATCOM few years later backed by a clean police record.
15. And many more.
We have withheld a huge chunk of relevant information due to the prevailing libel law which must now be repealed to enable us expose public figures without fear of prosecution. You could however request for the following documents in addition to the management accounts requested by the Transition Team to help you pursue Momoh Konte and his cabal of thieves:
1 Request for minutes of all Board meetings since the appointment of Momoh Konte in 2015 – These are public records according to the Telecoms Act and should be readily available within a day. Any missing minutes are automatic suspects for fabricated information.
The Board minutes, which must be signed by the Chairman, will give you a clear indication of all Board-approved instructions to the senior management of NATCOM. The minutes will also contain information on any instruction or executive order from State House and the level of involvement of each member of the Board in the decision making process relating to the Building project and other corrupt deals.
In the name of fairness, copies of all minutes should also be made available to the former President, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma. Being nonexecutive, the Telecoms Act forbids the chairman from taking unilateral decisions.
All instructions to the management must therefore be supported by the majority of Board members with a quorum of 5 out of 7 members. The Telecoms Act also declares NATCOM as an independent institution that is forbidden from taking instructions from any person or authority in the running of its affairs.
2 Request for receipts of all payments from the construction company, ICC, in respect of the Building Project of NATCOM – These must be reconciled with payments requests processed by the Finance Department of NATCOM.
3 Request a copy of the authentic BoQ for the Building project of NATCOM.
4 Request from Momoh Konte audited financial reports of all businesses owned by him in and outside of Sierra Leone for 2015, 2016 and 2017.
5 Request from ICC audited financial reports of its business operations in Sierra Leone for 2015, 2016 and 2017.
We look forward to your prompt action.
His Excellency Julius Maada Bio, Head of State, The Honourable Vice President, Dr Mohamed J. Jalloh, All Cabinet Ministers of the Sierra Leone Government, Hon Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella and all other Presidential Aspirants in the 2018 Elections, All Members of Parliament, The Auditor General – Audit Service Sierra Leone, Members of the Board and all employees of NATCOM, Mr Alpha Saidu Bangura – SLPP, Mr Kutubu Koroma – NGC, Mr Gibriel Bangura – ADP.