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: