Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 October 2020:
Following the publication of a report by the Africanist Press about the Billions of Leones stolen by tax officials working for the country’s National Revenue Authority (NRA), the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) yesterday issued a statement saying that they had conducted an investigation into the stolen billions.
The ACC statement confirms that those accused of misappropriating the Billions of Leones have been charged to court and that the matter is ongoing.
For the avoidance of doubt or confusion, this is what the ACC statement says:
“The attention of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has been drawn to an article, published in the Africanist online newspaper, dated 15th October, 2020; titled “Le3.2 billion foreign travel tax revenue missing in Sierra Leone” in which the publication seems to suggest that action has not been taken on the loss.
The ACC wishes the public to know that it had investigated these allegations and have accordingly instituted appropriate actions. The ACC’s findings established that between March, 2018, and September 2019, Revenue Officers, ABUBAKARR SIDIKIE KAMARA, MARIAMA BALLAH CONTEH, and JENEBA SESAY, Revenue Officers, Report Processing and Return Payment (RPRP) Department of the National Revenue Authority (NRA) misappropriated a total sum of Five Billion, Three Hundred and Eighty-two Million, Nine Hundred and Forty-Four Thousand, Six Hundred and Five Leones (Le.5, 382,944,605) of Public Revenue, being Foreign Travel Tax paid by the airliner, Royal Air Moroc, and Foreign Travel Tax, paid by Euro World SL Ltd.
In February 2020, the ACC charged all three former NRA officers with eight counts of Misappropriation of Public Revenue, contrary to Section 36(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008.
However, ABUBAKARR SIDIKIE KAMARA, who in his then capacity as Revenue Officer in the RPRP Department of the NRA, misappropriated a total sum of Three Billion, Eighty-Eight Million, Eight Hundred and Seventy-Eight Thousand, Five Leones (Le.3, 088,878,005) of Public Revenue, being Foreign Travel Tax paid by the airliner, Royal Air Moroc, and Foreign Travel Tax, paid by Euro World SL Ltd, is on the run while being tried in absentia.
A wanted person notice was accordingly issued. He faces four counts of Misappropriation of Public Revenue, contrary to Section 36(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008.
MARIAMA BALLAH CONTEH, who between March and May 2018, misappropriated a total amount of One Billion, Seven Hundred and Twenty-Three Million, Eight Hundred and Fifty Nine Thousand, Six Hundred Leones (Le1, 723,859,600) of public revenue, being Foreign Travel Tax paid by Euro World SL Ltd.
MARIAMA BALLAH CONTEH faces three (3) counts of Misappropriation of Public Revenue, contrary to Section 36(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008.
JENEBA SESAY, who was Revenue Officer, RPRP Department, NRA, on 29th March, 2018, misappropriated public revenue amounting to Five Hundred and Seventy Million, Two Hundred and Seven Thousand Leones (Le.570, 207,000.00), being Foreign Travel Tax paid by Euro World SL Ltd.
JENEBA SESAY faces one count of Misappropriation of Public Revenue, contrary to Section 36(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008.
Meanwhile, the ACC has recovered One Billion Leones (Le. 1,000,000.000.00) from one Travel Agency as settlement due to the complicity of one of its staff in the scam. The culprit staff had been sacked and was out of Sierra Leone during the period of the investigation.
In this light, the Commission wishes to reassure the general public of its unshaken resolve to fight acts of corruption at all levels in Sierra Leone, especially in revenue generating institutions given the fact that they are the lifeblood of States, therefore crucial to State survival.
It also wishes to make it clear that the Management of the National Revenue Authority and all relevant institutions fully supported and cooperated with the investigations which had long been completed and action accordingly taken as aforesaid.”
The case is currently ongoing in the High Court presided by Justice Cosmotina Jarrett.