Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 September 2020:
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in its second media release published on Monday, 7 September 2020, “has updated the general public of the actions and steps” it says it has taken “to address critical issues raised in the Auditor General’s Reports of Sierra Leone, for the period 2015 – 2018” – when the APC government was in power.
These interventions the ACC said are focused on aspects of “possible, or alleged corruption, and conduct inconsistent with the provision(s) in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008”.
This is what the statement says:
After a thorough review, and analysis of the aforementioned Reports, a total of twenty-one (21) 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 second 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).
The Audit Report alleged that Kimbima Hotel has not been paying Pay-as-You-Earn (PAYE) Tax from August, 2016 to April 2018. ACC investigations established that no payment was made to the National Revenue Authority in respect of PAYE Tax for staff of Kimbima Hotel for the months of June, July, October, November, and December, 2017.
The ACC will be directing a letter to Kimbima Hotel (including its successors) and its stakeholders to pay PAYE Tax for the said workers, failing which the matter will be either referred to the NRA for recovery pursuant to the provisions of the Tax Laws of Sierra Leone or the ACC proceeds with direct recovery or prosecution, as may be deemed expedient in the circumstances.
2.MINISTRY OF FINANCE
The Audit Report alleged that the Ministry of Finance undertook procurement of ICT equipment to the tune of Three Hundred Million Leones (Le 300.000.000) without advertisement. Alleged procurement documents have been obtained, and analyzed. The ACC has obtained statements from Persons of Interest. The investigation is at an advanced stage and the Public will be updated on the outcome in due course.
3.MINISTRY OF FINANCE (MOF)
The Audit Report alleged that there is variance between fuel paid for by the MOF, and that actually supplied by the fuel dealer. The Ministry paid a total amount of Three Hundred and Thirty-Seven Million Leones (Le 337, 000, 000) as against what the supplier actually supplied, which amounts to One Hundred and Eighty Seven Million Leones (Le 187, 000, 000). MOF has forwarded documents relevant to the investigation. The ACC has analyzed the said documents, and commenced obtaining statements from Persons of Interest.
4.MINISTRY OF FINANCE (MOF)
The Audit Report alleged that some staff at the MOF received overpayments, without authorization; found inconsistency in the payroll and staff list; in the payment to deceased staff; and payment of salaries to staff on overdue study leave for the period January, 2017 to March, 2018. ACC investigations established that the thirty-one (31) staff involved were overpaid.
The said persons have completed repayment to the State through a structured program instituted by the Ministry of Finance itself. Save two staff whose issues are still under review; all have accordingly completed repayments. The file itself is still under review by the Prosecutions Department of the ACC to determine if criminal responsibility emanate from the conduct of the staff concerned or anyone else.
5.MINISTRY OF WORKS AND PUBLIC ASSETS
The Audit Report alleged that the officials of the Ministry of Works and Public Assets failed to pay proceeds from the sale of Government quarters into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, amounting to Two Billion, Two Hundred and Sixty Million Leones (Le 2,260,000,000).
The investigations established that twenty-eight (28) Government quarters situated around Spur Road, Wilberforce, Hill Station and Ross Road were sold for the sum of Two Billion, Six Hundred and Eighty Million Leones (Le 2,680,000,000).
An amount of One Hundred and Nineteen Million, Three Hundred and Fourteen Thousand, Three Hundred and Four Leones (Le 119, 314,304.00) was spent on monitoring activities by the Ministry of Works, leaving a balance of Two Billion, Five Hundred and Sixty Million, Six Hundred and Eighty Five Thousand, Six Hundred and Ninety Six Leones, (Le 2,560,685,696) held at the Works Emergency Account No.0112004648 at the Bank of Sierra Leone.
The ACC has, by letter, requested that the Accountant-General transfer the said amount into the Consolidated Revenue Fund and the same had been effected on the 13th December, 2019. It is therefore not the case that the said amount was embezzled; but the Account into which the said money had been lodged was not accessed by the Auditors at the time of the audit. The funds are now properly with the Ministry of Finance.
6. On another note
The ACC wishes to make clarification in its earlier Media Release No.1 dated 31st August, 2020, in which it stated that the National Petroleum (NP) was overpaid by EDSA in the sum of Four Billion, One Hundred and Two Million Leones (Le 4,102,000,000.00).
This liability however arose due to no fault of NP as it was the third parties who were supposed to make the correct delivery who ended up delivering less than what was contracted to be supplied and paid for.
The ACC maintains the essential correctness of its release by confirming that NP owes EDSA as stated but hereby corrects that the actual amount which the investigations established was overpaid by EDSA for which supplies were not received from NP, is Four Million, One Hundred and Two Thousand Leones (Le 4,102,000.00). This amount should be recovered by the EDSA from NP.
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. 3 on the Audit Reports will be out next week.
Meanwhile, the ACC wishes to reassure the general public of its resolve and commitment to protecting public property and revenue across the country at all times.
For further enquiries on this, please contact Margaret Murray, Public Relations Officer, on +232-78-832131 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.