Patrick Sandi: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 September 2020:
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in this third report, wishes to update the general public of the actions and steps it has taken to address critical issues raised in the Audit Reports of Sierra Leone 2015 – 2018.
These interventions focused on aspects of possible, or alleged corruption, and conducts inconsistent with the provision(s) in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008.
After a thorough review, and analysis of the aforementioned Reports, a total of twenty-one issues attracted the attention of the Commission; with a view to investigating, prosecuting, or recovering public funds, public revenue, public property, as the case maybe, in accordance with Sections 7, and 48 of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 respectively.
Below are the third set of issues, and areas of ACC interventions, and the outcomes of same:
The ACC has charged two (2) matters to Court. Furthermore, there are thirteen (13) ongoing active investigations. Two (2) matters have been accordingly closed for lack of evidence. In terms of monies returned to the State, the Commission has recovered a total sum of Two Billion, Seven Hundred And Forty-Two Million, One Hundred And Eighty-Five Thousand, Three Hundred and Four Leones, Sixty-One Cents (Le 2, 742, 185, 304, 61).
SIERRA LEONE ROAD SAFETY AUTHORITY (SLRSA)
The Audit Report alleged that the Former Executive Director of the SLRSA, Dr. Sarah F. Bendu, and others, misappropriated public funds amounting to Three Billion Leones (Le:3,000,000,000) purported to have been used for the shipment and payment of customs duty for Toe Vehicles.
The matter was charged to court, and the trial is in progress. However, one of the accused persons, Madam Kipiatu Alghali, had pleaded guilty and was convicted and fined Three Hundred Million Leones (Le 300, 000, 000.00), and ordered to repay a restitution of Two Hundred and Twenty-Seven Million Leones (Le 227, 000, 000.00).
The convicted person has paid a total amount of Five Hundred and Twenty-Seven Million Leones (Le 527, 000, 000.00).
MINISTRY OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS (MIC)
The Audit Report alleged that the former Permanent Secretary in the MIC; the Executive Director of SALCAB; and the Board Chairman SALCAB, jointly Misappropriated Three Hundred Thousand United States Dollars (USD$300, 000) meant for the construction of Cubicles for the Fiber Optic Project.
Three persons were charged to court; and two among them were found guilty, and ordered to pay a fine of One Hundred and Twenty Million Leones (Le 120,000,000), and Sixty Million Leones (Le 60, 000, 000) respectively. They have paid their respective fines.
BANK OF SIERRA LEONE (BSL)
The Audit Report discovered that the procurement of software (Oracle) for the Bank of Sierra Leone, worth over Five Million United States Dollars (USD$5m), was undertaken without following procurement procedures. ACC investigations established that proper procurement procedures were not followed through, with many causes for concern including retroactive approvals and failure to follow laid down guidelines on approvals. The software has been procured, installed, but not put in use yet due to challenges arising from contractual relationship and COVID-19 interruption.
However, there are various issues of official misconduct and abuse of office or position that are now under review by the Prosecutions Department of the ACC to determine if the said conducts of the former Governors, the Board of Directors and various staff of the Bank of Sierra Leone meet prosecutorial threshold for prosecution. The Public will be updated further on this in due course.
MINISTRY OF BASIC AND SENIOR SECONDARY EDUCATION (MBSSE)
The Audit Report alleged that withdrawals amounting to Three Billion Leones (Le 3,000,000,000) were made from the MBSSE’s Account. Nonetheless, there were no supporting documents for the alleged use of One Billion, Eight Hundred Million Leones (Le 1,800,000,000).
The ACC has analyzed same and obtained statements from the Senior Finance Officers that undertook several projects, but failed to report. Investigation into this matter is still in progress.
NATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (NATCOM)
The Special Technical Audit Report 2018 underscored that NATCOM made series of individual donations. ACC investigations confirmed that donations were indeed made to public institutions, groups, and individuals, upon request to undertake development projects. Some undertook the projects. Others did not.
In this regard, the Commission has recovered a total of One Hundred and Fifteen Million Leones (Le 115,000,000) from the groups that failed to undertake the said projects. Additionally, two individuals have refunded the amount of monies donated to them. Meanwhile, investigation into this matter is still in progress.
MINISTRY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT (MLGRD)
The Report alleged that the MLGRD could not account for withdrawals made from the Imprest Account, and other Accounts, amounting to the sum of Four Hundred and Seventy Nine Million Leones (Le479.000 .000.00), and Three Hundred and Fifty One Million Leones (Le 351,000,000) respectively.
The Audit Report also highlighted that two desktop computers, amounting to Two Million Leones (Le2, 000,000), and sixteen (16) yards of carpet, amounting to Eleven Million Leones (Le 11,000,000), were not seen during the Audit Team verification.
The ACC has issued Notices as part of the ongoing investigations process. Investigations are ongoing in that regard and the public will be updated upon conclusion.
The Commission shall continue to promptly update the public through releases on interventions made with regard the Auditor-General’s Audit Reports of Sierra Leone. Release No. 4 on the Audit Reports will be out in the following weeks.
Meanwhile, the ACC wishes to reassure the general public of its determination and commitment to protecting public property and revenue across the country at all times.
About the author
Patrick Sandi is the Director of Public Education and Outreach at the Anti-Corruption Commission of Sierra Leone.
Don’t forget that Young4na is inherently and blatantly a party die-hard! He will always go after anyone who goes after his people!!!
Young4na, you need to educate yourself in civics before stating vague statements. Most of Bio’s appointees have been in their positions less than two years. This brief period of tenure is not sufficient to measure their engagement to defraud Sierra Leone. Most of the ministers in the previous administration were cleaning every nickel and dime from all government accounts here and abroad. They even took the broom to the banks and cleaned what they could from those institutions. Ernest Koroma was head of the group. You people have no shame to even try to defend such acts of thievery? What did they own before they came to power? Being an insurance salesman in a poor country does not make one a millionaire. Please stop fooling the people of Sierra Leone. Advise your brothers and sisters or whatever they are to you to be wise to give up the loot to avoid prison time. This time the government of Maada Bio is serious about curbing or eliminating this criminal act.
Thanks to the ACC for recovering some of these stolen monies from thieves, which can be used for the Free quality education and new diagnostic health centre for the citizens. I hope he will continue his success in the fight against corruption even with the current government because that is the only recipe for the development of our nation. May the Almighty continue to bless and protect you from any distractions.
These are good steps which have never happened before but I am pleading to please create ways to investigate the transport sector (drivers and conductors who ply the city of Freetown). These people are too corrupt by always calling half way especially us from the Western Rural Urban. The police just make loud noise in the media but are doing nothing in terms of half ways saga.
Salone na contri ya, they go into politics to enrich themselves – not the masses or the nation as a whole. Whosoever mismanages of country’s resources for his or her shellfish interest, God Almighty will punish their entire generation here and thereafter.
The ACC under the present leadership will never say something to me that will fly. It is all a mockery of there one-sided fight against corruption. The ACC boss should resign to save his awkward fight against selective corruption. A complete buffoon of themselves. Did they hear what the smart and wise Young4na said? I hope they do. God bless Young4na and the victims of selective justice. To hell with selective justice.
Public officials are notorious for using loopholes in the procurement regulations to divert funds for their private use. One of the ways in which corruption could be significantly minimised is the overhaul of the procurement system, which honestly has become a joke. I cannot understand how a large procurement spend can go ahead with funds released despite not following procurement procedures, which shows that those in charge do not know what they are doing. Not following procurement regulations for certain spending categories should be an offence.
Those found guilty should not only be fined but imprisoned to send a strong message. What procurement software for the Bank of Sierra Leone alone, that can cost 5 million dollars, and which right thinking Governor would approve that? This is daylight robbery. There are far more larger organisations with better e-procurement systems that will cost no way near that amount. Withdrawals are made, purchases are made but not accounted for in most of these institutions. It is a disgrace that public officials would engage in such activities, which explains why the public sector is badly managed. May God help Sierra Leone!
Well done to the ACC and the efforts they’ve made to recover some of the misappropriated missing billions of Leones that were meant for our country’s development. Somehow, ended up in the hands of corrupt, unpatriotic do nothing public officials. I believe these middle ranking officials that have been dipping their glued hands in our country’s wealth, should not only be asked to repay the stolen wealth, as a future deterrent for anyone harbouring the same thoughts. In all fairness, they should be sent to jail. IF YOU DO THE CTIME, YOU SHOULD DO THE TIME. Now we are left wondering how much of our country’s wealth is stolen by their bosses – the ministers that are supposedly meant to act as supervisors for this thieving public officials.
If Ben is serious about tackling this cancer of corruption, he should state the part on his mission statement, that he will follow the NORTH STAR and go where the evidence of wrong doing takes him. Not to go after the usual suspects. He should go after president Bio’s untouchables. Not long ago some of his ministers can’t afford a fence, now since they’ve been in power, they are buying, or in extreme cases like Hon Sandy, apart from covid19, the worst thing that happened to our country, is engaged in land grab policy as minister for lands. And building mansions in stolen lands, especially in the Freetown area.
You really can’t make this stuff up. Ben should stick with his mission statement without fear or favours. He should follow the NORTH STAR not as it seemed at the moment anyone who happens to be a NORTHERNER. Don’t mistake the North Star for the North. There is South, East and west. Just in case you never pay attention to your geography teacher. It will not wash with the Sierra Leonean public. They are smart enough to see through your actions and deeds. May God bless Sierra-Leone.
The ACC continue to show its prowess when dealing with corruption cases pertaining to previous regime civil servant or government appointees. What we have yet to see is the same determination and prowess being display to corruption cases tied to current regime officials.