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/

13 Comments

  1. Young4na, let’s get to the point and leave your personal life out of the discussion. We all know most Sierra Leoneans work hard and sometimes under adverse conditions to support their families back home. Ours is a homogeneous society and so when one eats, we all eat. Nothing new! Those who continue to support, despite the overwhelming evidence of corruption in the previous administration, have to answer to a higher power. As in American jurisprudence, one is innocent until proven guilty in the courts of law in SL. Crimes may have been committed but the government must show proof beyond all reasonable doubts. That is the defendant’s constitutional right. It must not be abridged by any party. Having said that, we must be aware that Sierra Leone is a small country with a population akin to the idea that those in power and their next of kin are beneficiaries of the cottage industry called ‘CORRUPTION’.

    Only those closest to the power structure benefit. These clandestine thieves who masqueraded as president, vice president, education and many other dysfunctional character ministers devoid the country of precious resources. Some of these people were taxi drivers in New York city and Washington DC, living in substandard one bedroom apartments managed to find their way into the government lacking the basic tenets of governing and moral integrity. Of course, their boss was waiting for them in Freetown. With the elite looting team in place they wasted no time first, in selling state assets. Second, they sold the mining resources to the Chinese. Third, they abandoned agriculture and gave the sole license to import food commodities to their families and friends. Fourth, they allowed their families and friends to pay no taxes on the importation of goods via the country’s ports. Fifth, they gave contracts solely to their family members for infrastructure purposes.

    Sixth, the Chinese built the president`s mansion in Makeni at no cost to him. What was the quid pro quo for the Chinese? The Ebola, Mud slide and Hajj gate are still being discussed in the country. What about the raiding of the Sierra Leone commercial bank by the president and his cronies? They used the bank as their piggy bank with no intention to pay back the so called loans. These are the facts. The COI saw the crimes committed by the previous administration and each of the three eminent judges on the panel illustrated the depth and scope of the insidious activities of some of the former administration officials. Maybe, they will show to the courts where their wealth originated. Maybe, again, they may have been beneficiaries of large insurance settlements. Do we know how many indigenous Sierra Leone millionaires are there?

  2. Hahaha, crazy isn’t it? It appears some of our ill-informed forumites have found a new line of defense whenever one of them is caught pants down making up stuffs. ‘Hey, Young4na, I am neither APC or SLPP, I love my country, so I should be allow to make up stuff and get away with it’, hahaha. Listen, unlike some of you who happen to have short span memory or appear to suffer from political ignorance when it comes to the governing nature of our 2 major political parties over the past 2 decades, I refuse to be fooled over and over again, since I happen to have been there and seen it all.

    Since 2001, America has become my permanent home, however, not a single year has pass since 2005 that I don’t visit my home country. By the way, I don’t only visit, I have also been sparingly investing with whatever meagre resources I can spare after taking care of my needs in my host country. So talking about love of country, please spare me that cock and bull story. Now, when it comes to politics, I have observed both SLPP and APC taking over governance over the past 2 decades, with each starting with what appears to be something catchy. Give them a few months in governance, the same old story repeats itself.

    When it comes to the fight against corruption, former president Koroma made major strides just as most of you gullible forumites think Maada Bio is doing now. He not only strengthened the fight against corruption, he was bold enough to charge sitting ministers found wanting for corruption – albeit the clandestine moves that mostly resulted to many of them getting a slap on the wrist and later re-employed. Current president Maada Bio has now shown to be toeing the same line, those who stole the Chinese rice, with ACC pretending to persecute them, are not back into employment? So please, get a life folks.

  3. Wait a minute Mr Edwin John. Did I hear you say that your loyalty is not to any political party? Did you ever in your life admire any Sierra Leonean politician or government official? Are you a supporter of the ACC boss who has woefully failed in fighting corruption? Do you agree with me that he must be sacked? This is what you said – “if you have proof call the ACC, don’t come on this forum and falsely accuse folks”. This statement tells me that you a supporter of the ACC boss and the Bio SLPP kakistocracy. Right?

    Reply to my questions as quickly as you possibly can Mr Edwin John. Hear Mr Edwin John there, hesitating to tell me how much he loves the failed ACC Boss and the Bio SLPP kakistocracy and he will defend them by all cost on this glorious platform. We are not Kids folks. God help Mr Edwin John

  4. Certainly, the majority of Sierra Leoneans know that the man in State House has not got the credibility and moral ground to champion the crusade against corruption. It is like employing a notoriously light-fingered straggler, who had been hustling for over two decades in the diaspora, to investigate a group of hard-working patriots allegedly involved in pilferage. Undoubtedly, with the windfall of opportunities available to this cracksman, the first option is to enrich himself and later point the finger to his opponents. This is the sad story of Sierra Leone, where hustlers and substandard professors who used to ride bicycles to access lecture theatres, are now building mansions with proceeds from graft.

    The classic headline: “Billions of foreign travel tax revenue missing in Sierra Leone government account” is just the start of things to come. The captain of this bandwagon of professional thieves, who is currently flushing the country’s scanty resources all over the world, is yet to come under the radar of the net. For now, he thinks he is safe and sound; though one day he will unwittingly forget to disguise his hallmarks, and the red net-trap will be spontaneously activated. GOTCHA!!! When one adopts a selective and malicious strategy in fighting corruption, then the current perpetrators will try as much as possible to beat the system. In the present context of Sierra Leone, this will lead to the proliferation of offshore bank accounts.

    Ironically, the magnitude of the scale of corruption will increase; and the suffering masses languishing in abject poverty will have to put up with a greater uncertain future. At least the previous APC administration that is presently facing the music of corruption, invested their loot in the country, thereby creating wealth and employment within the country. Contrastingly, the new cohort of thieves in the ruling SLPP government, who will strive to shift most of their ill-gotten wealth abroad, will develop and create much needed employment in foreign countries. The present rhetoric in fighting corruption has to be revisited in order to prevent a wasteful and futile adventure.

  5. L. Colsen, You’re not on your own, I stand with you. Believe me most Sierra Leoneans stand with you secretly, including those who on the surface make deafening noise about the white paper being a witch-hunt. Peer and other kinds of pressure are making them take to the streets to support corrupt officials.

    Sierra Leoneans are not the political novices that they once were anymore. Nowadays, on street corners and behind closed doors they ask: “way den beday eat den gee me dai“?. Please carry on with your objectivity shrouded in impenetrable morality. Sierra Leone needs you at this trying time when people cannot afford basic necessities.

  6. Hey Edwin John, just listen to yourself, “ Not everyone building homes does so through stolen funds.” Do you actually mean not every newly appointed political office holder that is building a mansion is doing so from stolen funds? Now tell me this, why is that you are among those delusional POAPA supporters screaming constantly for the crucifixion of former APC officials simply for owning multiple mansions? How hypocrite can one be?

    • My friend don’t attach me to political colour or party. My loyalty is not to any political party. My country has been raped and we as a people suffered because of greedy and selfish individuals. I want my country to be a better place and to take care of its citizens with its resources. If you have proof call the ACC, don’t come on this forum and falsely accuse folks. Better health care, good schools, clean drinking pipe water, better roads. Just the basics – is that too much to ask for?

  7. Hey Colsen, you can deny all you like about not being a POAPA supporter or APC. However; just be aware that, the notion of you making up stuff on this glorious intellectual forum and get away with it, is none starter. You can say whatever you like but be rest assured that you will be fact checked and exposed for any propagandist statement. Lonta!!

    • Hallelujah! hallelujah!Hallelujah!…let the heavens be praised! Special Agent Young4na telling things as they really are on this glorious forum, not sugar coating a damn thing; Serving the hot peppery drink and most bitter pill – DRINK while you can for your time in power is running out – DRINK for any moment the SLPP will vanish and disappear into obscurity.(lol)

  8. Young4na, first, I am not a Paopa. Second, I am neither APC nor SLPP. Third, I am beholding to no one in politics but to my fellow citizens who continue to suffer the legacy of perpetual and endemic corruption since the almost corrupt free administration of late Sir Milton Margai. People who are enablers of these corrupt politicians are themselves morally guilty.
    We can bark all we want at the tree, but I hope the current administration will pursue any one found guilty of stealing state assets, regardless of his or her connections.

    Remember, Mr Young4na, Sir, this time around, your insults, bullying and propaganda machine are not going to cut it. Those who stole and are found guilty must forfeit their sudden and ill gotten wealth. That is the bottom line – PERIOD….

    • They must forfeit their ill gotten wealth indeed. But, that should only be in a court of law and not by a naughty “Blank Paper”, OK. God bless Young4na.

  9. We are waiting to hear from the ACC boss next week. The money missing now could create a very big gap in our economy if not returned back, so please Mr Ben Kaifala use your office to investigate the truth about this money and bring the victims to justice. We don’t need any long explanation about this and no politics. This is for the interest of the Nation. All we need from you is to conduct your investigation and bring the thieves to Justice, thank you.

  10. Honourable ART, I apologize sir if I came across too hard on Colsen; just that some of these POAPA supporters sometimes need to be faced with the hard facts. They seem to be persistently living in cloud cuckoo land, spreading propagandist statements at will.

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