Billions in foreign travel tax revenue missing in Sierra Leone government account – says new report

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 October 2020:

Just as the New Direction government of President Julius Maada Bio says it is beginning to get grips with massive corruption in the country, then comes revelation that Billions of Leones are being siphoned into private accounts of corrupt officials and private corporations.

A new report published by the Africanist Press has revealed that over Three Billion Leones is missing in the country’s National Revenue Authority’s accounts.

The damning report which is co-authored by Chernoh Alpha M. Bah, Matthew Anderson, and Mark Feldman, says that “Based on the fraud investigation carried out by the management of the National Revenue Authority (NRA), we observed that staff were issuing receipts to airlines or agents of airlines for revenues that were not in the bank statement.”

The report also revealed that some airlines and their agents were paying foreign travel taxes (FTT) into commercial banks rather than the designated FTT account at the Bank of Sierra Leone.

“As a result, for 2019, a total of Le3,208,245,094.20 purported to have been paid into the Zenith Bank and Standard Chartered Bank was not in the bank statements.”

According to investigation conducted by the Africanist Press, penalties totalling Le3.6 billion were levied on defaulting taxpayers but no evidence was submitted to ascertain that the NRA took further actions to collect these funds.

“From the review of taxpayer’s files in respect of FTT, we observed that penalties totalling Le3,601,203,494 were levied on taxpayers who failed to make payments on their tax liabilities on or before the 15th of the following month. Even though letters were written to taxpayers or their agents for 2018 and 2019, no evidence of payment or responses were sited in their respective files,” they said.

Revenue totalling Le13.6 billion was found in the bank accounts at the Bank of Sierra Leone for which no supporting documents were submitted to allow for a verification of the completeness and accuracy of the amount in the bank accounts.

“Revenue totalling Le13,842,773,928.66 was seen in the accounts of the Bank of Sierra Leone for which no supporting documentation was submitted to ascertain the accuracy of the amount in the account,” the authorities told Africanist Press, adding that during the fiscal year 2019, the Sierra Leone Civil Aviation Authority (SLCAA) also collected and issued receipts to Air Peace and Royal Air Maroc that could not be traced.

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE:

https://africanistpress.com/2020/10/15/le3-2-billion-foreign-travel-tax-revenue-missing-in-sierra-leone/

15 Comments

  1. L. Colsen says—“ Please be assured that unlike the previous administration that stole with impunity, the Bio administration will address all alleged theft with the speed and seriousness which it deserves. The goal is to bring to light, as soon as they occur, any embezzlement of funds. Each departmental watchdog has the fiduciary responsibility to report all incidents of corruption to the ACC. So, the system is working as it should.” Hey Colsen, is your statement a mere case of ignorance in terms of successive governments efforts and approach in fighting corruption or just a typical bootlicking enunciation from a delusional POAPA supporter?

    For crying out loud, in addition to the yearly audit report, do you have any idea how many cases of corruption were unearthed spontaneously on numerous occasions during the former regime? Albeit the clandestine moves undertaken by the same regime officials to clear out their partners in crime; were you not aware of the corruption trials of former mayor Herbert Williams, Kemoh Sesay, Afsatu Kabbah, Momoh Conteh, and a host of others all charged for corruption during EBK first term? If indeed the system was not working then as you claimed, how were the corrupt practices of these officials unearthed then?

    Now in terms of your ludicrous assertion regarding the Bio regime ‘addressing all alleged theft with speed and seriousness it deserves’, how come we have to get anyone found wanting for the 50,000 bags of Chinese rice stolen by the POAPA officials? What about the over 140 billion Leones unaccounted for during the 2018 audit report? Who has been investigated?
    Do you really think this platform is occupied by your typical villagers who could easily be brainwashed? By the way, below is a couple of links to educate yourself in regards to the efforts attempted by former president EBK in fighting corruption during his first term in office, just as President Bio is pretending to do the same now.

    https://www.carl-sl.org/pres/the-judgement-in-the-state-v-momoh-konteh/

    https://www.carl-sl.org/pres/the-follies-of-addressing-corruption-in-the-court-of-public-opinion/

  2. I’m very delighted that people on the other side have started acknowledging what people, including myself have been saying all along. The Bio SLPP kakistocracy can’t fight corruption honestly, because they are not credible. Another Triple A interview promise broken by this inept ACC. The ACC boss promised sometime ago in an interview with Triple A, that he is going to proactively disrupt any corruption before the corruption even takes place. The only promise he did not break in that interview was being a Blackpool Football Fan. How on earth can these unscrupulous government officials and politicians, engage in such a massive fraud without the ACC knowing anything. Disgusting and appalling stuff.

    With all the “tiger”, “cobra”, “crocodile” units of the ACC in place, the rogue officials and politicians escaped undetected. The present ACC setup is not fit for purpose. All what they care about is playing hide and seek with former APC government officials in the name of corruption, handcuffing poorly paid school teachers around the cotton tree, humiliating them, whilst winking their left eyes to rogue government officials and politicians who continue raping our country’s economy. It’s now clear that the ACC can’t do its job properly and has failed woefully. The ACC boss must resign or be fired.

    Finally, President Bio, the Chief Minister and any official in the Bio SLPP kakistocracy will not escape the shores of Sierra Leone, if they were involved in any form of massive corruption or embezzlement, when the APC comes to power in 2023. I believe the APC will have measures to prevent them from escaping via the future 2 Billion Dollar Lungi Bridge. TBC.

  3. Please be assured that unlike the previous administration that stole with impunity, the Bio administration will address all alleged theft with the speed and seriousness which it deserves. The goal is to bring to light, as soon as they occur, any embezzlement of funds. Each departmental watchdog has the fiduciary responsibility to report all incidents of corruption to the ACC.

    So, the system is working as it should. Because corruption is endemic in the fabric of our society, we should not believe that it will go away with a strike of a pen or by presidential proclamation. Only with our collective effort will this disease be cured. So, please let’s stop the finger pointing.

    Also, most of these ministers in the current administration held well paid jobs in foreign countries and UN agencies before accepting these positions. Some are in high positions in the administration who can afford to build such structures in Sierra Leone. We will at the end of their term, audit their holdings to verify if they lived beyond their means. I know a few of our country people residing in the US who have built or are building large houses in Freetown. These are ordinary people making ordinary incomes.

    • Mr L. Colsen, once again you seemed to be diverting the attention of the public from the real issues of corruption that are taking place on industrial scale in Sierra Leone. And that is both by past and present government officials. We need to take the issue of tackling corruption in Sierra Leone seriously . This is not a game of politics. The one undeniable fact, corruption doesn’t discriminate. You can be a Temne, Mende, Fulani Krio or what ever political party you happen to belong to, it’s destructive power, and it affects each and everyone of us. Your point about this Bio government is busy flagging up corruption and tackling it, is all well and good.

      But dragging Sierra Leoneans fleeing their motherland because of corrupt politicians that have denied them that basic right to make a future in their own country, and muddling it to what’s really going on right now, is not only wrong but an insult to the intelligence of Sierra Leoneans. The fact that you alluded the diaspora are building houses back home, you’ve shown an amazing display of chutzpah. The two issues are different like day and night. Don’t even go there.

  4. The mission of the ACC commissioner is a journey and not a destination. Corruption is endemic in our country that’s why that institution was created by late President Tejan Kabba. Thanks to the Almighty this alleged corruption has been investigated by the Africanist Press which should be treated as purely allegations.

    This has nothing to do with the just concluded COI, and I hope that the lifetime leader of the APC party and his cohorts will not misconstrue this allegation to their situation which has been proven by the Auditor General, foreign forensic financial experts and two foreign and Sierra Leonean Judges. May the Almighty continue to bless and protect our ACC Commissioner.

  5. Billions have again gone missing under the Bio government. This reinforces my argument about the white paper: The Bio administration/ACC should relentlessly pursue all those who stole our money and property in the full knowledge that in the near future revelations like what has happened now will surface. Allah/God save SLPP then. All those whose hands are filthy should be treated the same as Earnest and his gang are now being treated. We’re now at the commencement stage of a new dawn in our country where politicians and others have never heard the word corruption, let alone know its meaning.

    Implicitly monies will start finding their way into projects that benefit all of us. A former President (Earnest Koroma) is now in prison in his home town. His former ministers and others are also in an open prison in various parts of the country – mostly around Freetown. They cannot leave the country on the orders of the Attorney-General who probably is aware of what corrupt Nigerian officials do; they suddenly diagnose themselves with a life-threatening illness for them to be allowed to leave the country for medical treatment. Upon arriving in one or other of the Western capitals, they recover from their illness as they leave the jet and run like the fastest land animal to find a hiding place.

    Official corruption must come to an end. President Bio is setting the stage. The missing billions in foreign travel taxes have to be accounted for. It is an opportunity for Maada Bio to promptly set up an inquiry to start punishing those responsible. If he doesn’t then we know that he is in a mode of shielding and protecting his own while trying to shred Earnest Koroma and his former gang to pieces. Such a perception can only render the President as a hypocrite. He may have to leave the country on the first flight out of the country if APC defeat him in 2023. His chief minister will be on the second flight if he is lucky.

  6. “Based on the fraud investigation carried out by the management of the National Revenue Authority (NRA),…” Telegraph. I think that the fight against corruptions is truly becoming a serious issue. I am happy for this. This is not an audit report. It is not a whistle blower’s report. Rather, it is a report based on a fraud investigation carried out by the senior management of the NRA. This is a clear indication that the management that took power at the NRA in mid or late 2018 saw the problem, and unlike the former management that waited for the Auditor General to reveal corruption at the institution in their yearly reports, which were never acted on.

    The new management took action and instead of just sacking people who will go around crying that they have been laid off based on tribal, regional or political affiliations, an investigation was instituted which has unearth this massive corruption.

    What the Central government would do with the findings of this fraud investigation would give us an indication about their commitment to fight corruption. We don’t have to wait for the yearly auditor general’s report to learn about corruption in our various institutions. Each institution should have in internal oversight to do periodic investigation. That way, we can curb corruption before it happens. Well done to the new NRA management.

    • That is very good. If this was unearth by the custodians of the institution, then they are doing a good job. After all, CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME.

  7. People in glass houses should not throw stones. The one direction government under president Bio seems to have found out the hard way. Fighting corruption in Sierra Leone is not a walk in the park. After weeks of bombarding us with avalanche of corruption cases involving the former president and his ministers, it seems the pendulum has finally swung back to the president and his so called little angels. Bio is now totally boxed in a catch 22 situation. In other words caught between the devil and the dip blue sea.

    If there is one silver lining for the president, the public will always blame the ACC for their ineptitude and lack of common sense approach in fighting this cancer we call corruption. In opening up this Pandora box, the president has unwittingly placed his government on notice and on the spotlight. Well so is the public and our international creditors are led to believe. That we should judge his presidency by this noble action he has undertaken to rid Sierra Leone of this monster. So far after the highs and lows of this corruption cases, the reality of corruption in Sierra Leonean society has finally started to sink in.

    The president, who was never suited to take on this giant task, let alone make any public pronouncement on corruption matters, has to put his own house in order, before he can put on his gloves in this David and Goliath fight. Now if this report is correct, it goes to show, corruption is not only endemic and entrenched in our society, but it has become a cultural thing. It will take more than three terms of a presidency, and with grit and determination to fight this scourge in our country.

  8. And that the uncovering with our aviation has changed how we dealt with corruption a bit, in that we had more and more governments responding to us, asking for more and more help on corruption, or wanting to talk about some complexities of how corruption gets layered through our institutions. And so over time, we are happy that that conversation has changed. And that may sound a little silly, frankly, but those of you who have been in government and know that occasionally getting a talking point in a senior citizen’s main meeting is one of the hardest battles you can engage in in the bureaucracy.

    So having someone stand up and say that corruption is a serious national security issue, the native Sierra Leonean should talk about this major cancer affecting the nation, talk about corruption is a significant threat for Sierra Leone. This trend has altered the way we could have a conversation about corruption, and it has sent a warning throughout the Sierra Leone government that this was an issue that we require doing further work on.

    And so that permeated itself into having more officers throughout the government agencies, throughout Parliament, throughout ministries, throughout the Department of Defense, who took on corruption as a part of their portfolio. This recent uncovering has reverberated in different systems as we progressed through this refining. Fighting corruption takes a different meaning when a country like Sierra Leone is devoid of information standards, the basic communication infrastructures, business processes, business information policies, and laws governing ethics in civil societies. Corruption is prevailing against all our combined forces in fighting the corruption gangrene.

  9. There you have it another revelation of the entrench corrupt practices taking place under this regime, yet gullible citizens are being FOOLED by the political witch hunt of the COI. Here in Freetown, almost everyone you speak to will tell you this current crop of POAPAs are corrupt to the core. Within less than 2 years in governance, majority of them are erecting mansions all over the place.

    I went by a friend of mine’s house in the Grafton area the other day, he pointed several mansions to me that are under construction with the owners being POAPA officials. Hypocrites to the highest degree is exactly what these guys are.

    • If you really want to fight against corruption then you must start fighting it with your own government. It’s 100% mess and shameful of the government to fight against the opposition in the name of corruption in which they themselves know they are more corrupt.

    • If you and your “so called friend” have proof that the houses being built is through corrupt means, as a citizen please contact the ACC. But please don’t come on this forum and start making unsubstantiated claims. Not everyone building homes does so through stolen funds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.