ACC investigated and charged three tax officials for stealing billions of foreign travel tax revenue

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.

13 Comments

  1. Thanks to you David Samura for your insight. I suspected this allegation from the Africanist Press was just a DISTRACTION from the real subject which was the lifetime leader (ARATA) who is not only a THIEF but also BARBARIC based on the fact that he used school children, women and now mask devils as “HUMAN SHIELDS” because he is SCARED to face justice. After this week of distraction, I hope we will go back to the real subject which is ACCOUNTABILITY for Money Laundering by the lifetime leader.

    Finally, it is INSANE for anyone to suggest that a THIEF should be treated with respect especially a former president and in reality all around the world, their trials has been open because it’s breaking news. The 90 days grace period for appeals is slowly but gradually running out for him to become HOMELESS.

    • Surprise! This same story was reported by The Sierra Leone Telegraph on February 14,2020. I wonder why it is again making it in the news in October.

    • The shielding of the APC Leader was not an organized one. Did they read the article properly? It was a spontaneous action by the brave and politically matured citizens of Makeni. It’s shameful and ridiculous to talk about barbarity in my house without looking in yours in the first place. I hope they get that and put their points straight, the next time they click on the submit button of this glorious platform.

      God bless the APC Leader for being a very peaceful and law abiding citizen. Are they jealous of that? Absolutely yes in my view! It’s hard work to be a peaceful citizen and law abiding. “NORF” respect to our former Commander in Chief of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces, His Excellency, the President, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma. God bless you and your lovely family. Amen and Amen. Father God.

  2. In my personal opinion there are some elements within the ACC and the Bio government that are actively working for tbeir intrest not the intrest of the country. It is called the DEEP STATE ACTIVITIES. Publicly this public officials appears to be working with the ACC in tbeir drive to rid Sierra Leone of corruption, but in private manning tbe barricades on behalf of those who are accused of corruption. Or how else can you explain Abubakar, one of the accused making off before the indictment where unsealed. Someone, one of Bio’s corrupt ministers rank must be complicit in this deep state activities. Because if the ACC were to follow the corruption trail, chances are one those ministers will be called in for questioning.

    The public is sick to the teeth of this lack of progress. Unless we start seeing headline grabbing stiff penalties handed down to those found guilty of misappropriating of public funds, we can never scale the mountain of corruption. The ACC, has demonstrated its lack of foresight and competence. Ben Kelifah needs to reexamine the structure of his organisation and monitoring of information, the way it is stored, and how people have access to this information before it is made public. May God bless Sierra Leone.

  3. I don’t personally wonder about some of the reactions of critics in this particular issue. The massive stealing of the country’s public funds by the APC gov’t led by Ernest Bai Koroma who vandalized Sierra Leone – who can come out and say something about that? If we really mean business, let’s talk and focus on the ongoing investigation that the thieves and alleged allies are blocking. I am sending this message to President Bio: Act like a man, defend and rescue this country from it’s enemies. APC is still suffering the pain of defeat since the 2018 polls. Why? Because they don’t want to be in opposition, that’s all. EBK will never smell power again in Sierra Leone, period.

    Some people say that you are blessed; of course they’re right, but my advice to you is, don’t burn your bridge with that blessing. Something is happening in Sierra Leone that the other African countries are not experiencing folks. Bio, where is the law and order!?

    • You must be credible and clean of corruption, before you can act like a man to fight corruption. Did they get the tip? No one can act like a man in fighting corruption, when you were in the past corrupt or engaged in corrupt practices which are on the record. Argue or Deny. Do they know that? Or, they are just encouraging the momentum to expose their man further. More importantly, you don’t set a thief to catch a thief. God bless EBK: the man controlling the political show in the country at the moment.

      Some people are just nervous because of his never ending popularity in the country. A living former President popular than a living and sitting President? Sometimes it happens in a country of the “living dead” and the “Gron Dry”. What a political genius is EBK. God bless EBK.

  4. Corruption’s wives are scratching his head as he lies on a hammock in the shade of a mango tree, unperturbed. In our side of the world, time, circumstance, and poor communication of information has inured us to the perception and impact of political and economic corruption. The seeming mix up in dates on which the NRA investigation uncovered internal fraud obfuscates the real issue here. The P.R Dept. of the commission should pay more attention to their role as information middleman. We’ve heard about the Scorpions – they strike with the quickness – we’ve read about Kaifala, his brashness and tunnel focus.

    I’ll commend the ACC for their “spectacular” catches, but we still haven’t heard about an anti-corruption judge handing down a 15-20 year sentence. We need a louder and more aggressive anti-corruption strategy, especially in the area of info dissemination and punishment. I’ve scoured a few contemporary anti-corruption efforts in some South American states and Asian nations. Overwhelmingly, the key is aggressive punishment coupled with publicity. This is in no way a condoning or an endorsement of abuse or violence as in the case of the exam malpractice saga, but crime and corruption take notice when stern, stiff, and irreversible punitive action is taken.

    Who knows, maybe The Africanist’ story is inaccurate, but it exposes a critical weakness in the ACC operational strategy. As Kaifala himself observed, corruption never goes quietly into the night. Sierra Leoneans are already inured so we will not be overly bothered by the noise. I believe the trial of any agency or individual proven to have committed actions that fall within the mandate of investigation and prosecution by the ACC should be well documented and seared into our public consciousness. Maybe we need to see these trials on television, see sentences handed down, see the parts of the anti corruption machinery operating. In short, we love gossip, the ACC P.R Dept. should have a factual well crafted narrative about the just punishment of perpetrators that dominates the national discussion. Like they say about debt, it’s the interest that hurts, not the principal. Let the consequences be seen, heard, and absolute. By the way, where is Abu Bakarr Sidikie Kamara, Do we deserve to know??

  5. Unbelievable!!! Why didn’t the ACC make this public knowledge when the issue came to their attention? They have only now responded when it has been published in a newspaper. This is absolutely incredulous on the part of the ACC. Someone must have let Abubakarr run…he didn’t do it alone. ACC is gradually being strangled by its multi-directional poppet strings; how on earth could junior staff of an institution the size of the NRA steal five billion Leones with no attention drawn to them? We are talking about over $500,000.00 here. This country is in big trouble.

  6. The ACC has no credibility whatsoever; Here’s the first thing they have to do for them to be considered a credible institution – Let the President and all his ministers declare their liquid and fixed assets in a credible transparent manner for the world to see that they are all honourable men with hands squeaky clean. Anything short of that will not suffice in this ongoing fight against corruption in Sierra Leone, my only home.

  7. Hmmm, so if this corruption case was unearthed by ACC over 7 months ago and charges already made, how comes the public is only getting to know about this now that the Africanist press published about it? Is the ACC surreptitiously hiding ongoing corruption activities in this regime in a guise to misled the public? How many more corruption cases that the ACC is aware of yet the public is completely left in the dark?

  8. Disappointing and not impressive stuff. Is this another optical merry go round we are witnessing? After the failed interview mess by the ACC, they want to convince many Sierra Leoneans including myself, that they are in control of corruption in the country. That won’t fly in the eyes of many. The weakest links are again in the spotlight. What we want to see happen is what lies under the skin of this massive fraud, that the not fit for purpose ACC and its boss can’t proactively stop as promised.

    Junior NRA revenue officers can’t by themselves defraud the government with such massive amounts without the big fishes behind it. Let’s wait till the S*** hits the fan. I don’t trust anything coming out of the ACC, until the courts prove it to me. Period. God bless, guide and protect our cool headed judges to carry out their duties without interference from State House.

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