Bio’s missing Billions – ACC to hold press conference next week

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 January 2020:

Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), today announced that it will be holding a press conference next Tuesday, 7th January 2020, at the St. George’s Cathedral Hall in Freetown to discuss its position on the recently published Auditor General’s 2018 Report, which exposes the disappearance of over One Hundred and Forty Billion Leones, across various government ministries and departments.

According to the ACC statement, “the objective of the press conference is to update the public on the outcome of the Commission’s examination of the Auditor General’s Report and its next lines of action. Also, the Commission will update the public on steps already taken in regard to the several issues entailed in the report. The ACC is inviting media houses and civil society organizations “to send not more than two representatives each, to attend the Press Briefing”.

This decision to hold a press conference next week, follows the prompt response of both the ACC and the government’s financial secretary in the ministry of finance to the report published on the 19 December 2019, promising to conduct a thorough investigation into the missing Billions..

Supporters of the SLPP government say that the Bio-led administration cannot be held responsible for all of the missing cash, after being in power for only seven and a half months out of the twelve months audited in 2018.

But the fact remains that the present government must take ownership of the 2018 Auditor General Report, and held accountable for the missing cash.

Responding to this charge levied at the government, the Anti-Corruption Commission said last month: “The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) wishes to inform the general public that it has commenced examination of the Auditor General’s Report for the Financial Year ended 31st December, 2018 conducted by the Audit Service Sierra Leone and tabled before Parliament yesterday.

“The ACC notes and welcomes the ongoing public interest and debates on the said Report on the management of public and donor funds in Sierra Leone.

“As the institution charged with the responsibility of enforcing Accountability in Public Life, the ACC is now examining the aforesaid Report with a view to ascertaining any breaches of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 or needs for intervention by the ACC at this stage; and/or identify system lapses within the audited institutions for appropriate action. The Commission is also cognizant of the role of Parliament regarding this issue and it shall be collaborating with same in the interest of prudent financial management of the country.

“The ACC attaches utmost importance to the judicious use of monies and other resources meant for the People of Sierra Leone. Therefore, it wishes to make it abundantly clear that anyone found wanting shall face the full force of the law as will be appropriate with no exceptions.

“In this regard, the public is therefore encouraged to exercise patience while the Commission does a cursory and careful review of the Report and commence taking steps within the shortest time possible as may be expedient. The ACC shall continue to update the public as and when necessary. The public is reassured that transparency and accountability in the management of Public Funds shall continue to be of paramount interest to the ACC.”

The 2018 Report of Sierra Leone’s Auditor General – Mrs Lara Taylor Pearce, makes for an unpleasant reading. The report is replete with massive evidence of rampant corruption, maladministration and brazen theft of public funds, under the watch of the new government.

According to the 389 page-report, like all previous reports on the financial management of the country by successive governments, there is a huge hole in the current government’s accounts. One Hundred and Forty One Billion Leones in cash, is missing and unaccounted for.

The auditor general’s report is for the entire year ending December 2018. President Bio and his government were elected in March 2018.

There are questions now being asked about president Bio’s commitment to good governance, strict and prudent financial management, transparency and accountability.

One of the first pronouncements president Bio announced from State House after he was sworn-in last year – using his executive powers, was a range of financial management measures across government which he said were aimed at plugging financial leakages.  From the findings of today’s report, it is obvious that these measures are not working.

But supporters of the government are blaming the former government of president Koroma for the missing One Hundred and Forty One Billion Leones.

In its executive summary, the report says: “Losses in respect of cash irregularities identified in the course of our audit amounted to Le140.9 billion. These losses are in respect of Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs), Public Enterprises (PEs) and Local Councils (LCs).”

And what makes it even worse is that “these losses do not include cash irregularities from embassies and other diplomatic missions,” the report found.

Le56.2 billion of the cash losses and irregularities took place across Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, and were mainly attributable to the following by the Auditor’s Office:

  • Unsupported payments
  • Revenue not banked
  • Irregularities in payment of salaries to staff
  • Statutory deductions not paid to the appropriate authorities
  • Irregularities in payment of DSAs and other allowances
  • Unexplained expenditure, payments without approval and expenditure returns not submitted
  • Fuel not accounted for
  • Imprest not retired
  • Stores and fixed assets irregularities

Most of the losses across MDAs were found in various transactions, such as: Irregularities in payment of salaries – Le4,384,950,940; Irregularities in payment for travels, DSAs and other allowances – Le1,528,298,810; Unsupported payments and other funds not accounted for –Le18,708,699,304.

Unexplained expenditures, payment without approval and expenditure returns not submitted – Le22,267,935,226; Imprest not retired – Le1,113,548,001; Fuel not accounted for – Le2,704,734,000; Revenue not banked and other revenue related issues  – Le2,414,447,492; Statutory deductions not paid to the relevant authorities – Le2,946,619,395; Stores and fixed assets irregularities – Le107,000,000.

But what is even more alarming, according to the report, is this: “In addition to the above cash losses, we found out that payments for goods, works and services, which amounted to Le2.5 billion were not supported by adequate documentation (unreceipted payments). This means that some of the requested supporting documents in respect of these payments were not submitted for our review.

“We also observed several significant lapses in the procurement of goods, works and services which amounted to Le257.1 billion. This might have been due to lack of commitment on the part of MDAs to ensure compliance with rules and legislation governing the procurement process. This practice does not ensure transparency in the procurement process.”

This massive loss of cash is also reported by the Auditor General across PUBLIC ENTERPRISES, COMMISSIONS AND DONOR FUNDED PROJECTS

“In general, and virtually across all the Public Enterprises and Commissions, several cash irregularities were observed; giving rise to a loss of Le66.3 billion. The significant matters identified in the audit examination fall into the following areas: Unexplained expenditure; Unsupported payments; Statutory deductions not paid; and Revenue not paid in to the Consolidated Fund” (the government’s central bank account).

According to the report, this Le66.3 Billion cash losses across Public Enterprises and Commissions is made up of the following: Irregularities in payment of salaries and other benefits – Le1,095,407,869; Unsupported payments and other funds not accounted for – Le39,885,862,560; Unexplained / ineligible / excess expenditures – Le1,598,804,031; Revenue not banked and other revenue related issues – Le16,283,954,000; and Statutory deductions not paid to the relevant authorities – Le7,434,359,850.

Despite sounding several warnings and making a plethora of recommendations in previous audit reports, it seems a change of government has done very little to bring about culture change across public institutions in Sierra Leone.

“Payments for goods, works and services, amounting to Le33.2 billion were not receipted for. This could be attributed to management’s failure to observe the stated regulations in the utilisation of public funds. We also observed that procurement activities valued at Le19.9 billion were not open, competitive and transparent. This could be attributed to the lack of commitment on the part of management to ensure compliance with rules and legislation governing procurement processes. As a result, the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) may not have achieved maximum value for public expenditure.”

Extractive Industry Revenue

Sierra Leone’s mining industry and the revenue generated by the National Minerals Agency accounts for a very high percentage of the government’s income that it spends in providing vital public services, such as health and education.

It is with utter dismay, and indeed a serious indictment therefore, that the Auditor General’s report speaks of serious lapses and irregularities in the management of and accountability for funds, by those running the National Minerals Agency.

The report says: “The issuance process of exploration mining license by the National Minerals Agency was materially not complying in the following:

  • The Agency did not ensure that all annual license and monitoring fees were paid by mineral right holders, which is in contravention of the requirements set out in section 152 (1&2) of the Mines and Mineral Act of 2009.
  • The MCAS showed an outstanding fees of US$872,131. The Agency did not pursue payments, neither did they correct the MCAS if there were erroneously recorded transactions that do not reflect the actual activities of the Agency, as required by section 152 (1&2) of the Mines and Mineral Act of 2009.
  • The Agency inconsistently levied penalties on offenders for the same infringements, which is in contravention of section 2(5) of the Mines and Mineral Regulations of 2009.”

These lapses call into serious question the decision to suspend or terminate the agreements of some mining companies that have been contributing heavily to the government’s revenue and availability of much needed foreign exchange in the country, as the value of the Leone plummets.

The management of the National Minerals Agency must now be held to account; and all mining agreements thus far terminated, must be subjected to review by an independent committee to ensure that such decisions to terminate or suspend those mining agreements are lawful and in the best interest of the State.

Cash losses at city, district, and municipal councils

It seems that everyone has been at it – with their hands deep into the government’s cookie jar; and not even local councils are exempted from maladministration and corruption.

According to the Auditor general’s report: “The annual financial statements for 22 local councils were submitted for audit before, or after the legislative deadline of 31st March, 2019. Significant matters were identified in the audit examination. These matters revealed a cash loss of Le18.5 billion relating to the following categories:

  • Revenue arrears
  • Non-payment of statutory obligations
  • Unsupported payments
  • Over expenditure of budget lines and unapproved expenditure
  • Payment of sitting fees and other allowances to absentee councillors.”

This findings of this 2018 Auditor General report are clear manifestation of the fact that very little has changed since a new government was elected in March 2018.

Expectations of the Bio-led government doing more to curb ,maladministration across government have been very high, due largely to the ruling SLPP party’s election campaign manifesto pinned on the promise of good governance, financial discipline, transparency and accountability.

In 2018 president Bio sacked hundreds of senior public officials – supporters of the former APC government of president Koroma, whom he said could sabotage his government through misappropriation of public funds or mismanagement if left in office.

A Transition Committee Report conducted by the SLPP government’s Chief Minister David Francis, said it had found hundreds of millions of dollars unaccounted for by the former government of president Ernest Bai Koroma.

A commission of enquiry set up by president Bio is currently investigating the management of State affairs by the previous president and his ministers.

Today, the Bio-led government itself is being held accountable for One Hundred and Forty One Billion Leones missing across government ministries and departments.

Although it is not within the mandate of the Auditor General to pass judgement as to whether there has been corruption by current ministers and senior officials, the Anti-Corruption Commission today said it has conducted a thorough investigation into the missing cash, and will inform the public about its findings next week.

You Can Read the Full Report Here:

Sierra Leone Auditor General Report 2018

17 Comments

  1. Ladies and Gentlemen. Tomorrow will be a very interesting day. News conference by the ACC. Don’t forget. Is the administration going to take responsibility for the missing billions?
    Are we going to hear that the former APC administration squandered everything or, are we going to hear what former President Kabba said concerning trafficking money from Sierra Leone to the Channel Islands? Crack my statement and become my hero.
    What an interesting day tomorrow! God bless ACC and GOD help “get SALONE sorted”.

  2. David Bangura – I am fine with you labeling me an APC or EBK supporter for simply exposing your hypocrisy. The fact is, most die-hard party fanatics will always result to labeling someone as the opposition whenever they are called out. If indeed I am an APC supporter, at least I am patriotic enough to criticize their evil acts.

    Time and again, I have made unfavorable comments regarding the APC in this platform. I am not a blind supporter like you my friend, selling your soul to the devils. The fact is, APC is no longer in charge, SLPP is. During EBK’s tenure, when corrupt practices were taking place and opposition parties being terrorized, many patriotic Sierra Leoneans like myself were criticizing their actions. In fact, I happen to believe that EBK is the most corrupt president in Sierra Leone’ recent history. Far more corrupt than Kabbah.

    It’s against this backdrop that I was one of the individuals campaigning against the APC, hoping that a new party like the NGC will bring about the needed changes. Unfortunately, we ended up with the SLPP, the same old corrupt folks wearing different uniforms.

    The bad news for you is that, I will continue to criticize your demi-gods, as long as they remain corrupt. Your only recourse is to take a sleeping pill or advice your so called deities to stop robbing our people.

  3. David Bangura my brother, the truth they said is a bitter pill; ilks like you are parading cyberspace fomenting all kinds of unprinted words against the former regime whenever they are accused of similar corrupt practices. In fact, many of you are calling for EBK’s head to be cut-off before even judgement or any evidence is brought against him. All along, you deceptively carry out your venom attacks against opposition figures claiming you care about our nation and fighting for its right causes.
    Now with your demi-gods in charge, your hypocrisy is being exposed. With all due respect, such hypocrisy is a big factor why our nation will remain stagnated.

    Many of you care less about the prevailing destitute situation our citizens are facing. All that matters is your cronies and self interest are in charge, having a field day with our nation’s meager resources. I personally will never hesitate to call out self-serving Sierra Leoneans parading around as patriots. The time is ripe enough for Sierra Leoneans to stand for the truth regardless of which party is in power. As an individual who subscribes to neither APC or SLPP doctrine of tribalistic nepotism and regionalism, my dream is to see a developed nation as a whole — not west, north, or southern development.

    The fact remains, blindly supporting these corrupt politicians benefits no one but the politicians themselves and cronies. These individuals are in public service to serve the nation, not themselves. So, every patriotic Sierra Leonean has the onus to keep these crooks in check and call them into question whenever the need arises. This is why its very crucial that we have an educated population, one that knows its basic civil rights; the very reason I applaud the Bio’s regime investment in education.

    • Young4na, the difference between you and I is that whereas I have never hidden my disgust for the opposition, especially the APC, you feign neutrality, which shows how hypocritical, reckless and unpatriotic you are. You are an Ernest Koromaist who believes in everything that Ernest Koroma stood for, which includes tribalism and northern regional hegemony.

      Folks of your ilk would hang onto a straw as long as that can distract the present government from pursuing development initiatives in Sierra Leone.

  4. The day of reckoning is not too far away – all debts, thefts, obligations and commitments will be scrutinized under the watchful eyes of a curious and attentive world. Journalists heads up! Be alert! bright-eyed and bushy tailed, so that these crooked SLPP conmen don’t twist things, pull a fast one, or make fools out of the good people of Sierra Leone. And remember the beginning and the end of all serious endeavors, touched, examined and handled by the corrupt, disgruntled, spiteful, remorseless criminals of the inadequate SLPP and Puppet ACC, will end up the same as always – a totally profitless and unproductive charade (lol). Wanna bet? Anyone?

    Saidu Conteh says, after all has been said, done and witnessed, all the efforts of these disagreeable BO school dummies are bound to eventually become nothing but a devious, tribalistc ploy – a calculated political witch hunt…and surely a deceptive sham, like balloons full of air that have been pricked with needles, rendering them totally worthless. A corrupt, lawless government hiding under the umbrella of the ACC that is horribly riddled with suspicious holes. (lol).

    The ACC perfectly resembles a bunch of rowdy, shameless night watchmen that connive and discreetly rob the same house they are being paid to protect and secure. (lol). They have no credibility! None whatsoever. Not a word they utter is true! They have been enriching themselves – robbing Peter to pay Paul – harassing and arresting people, seizing their assets, rendering them penniless just because they are members and supporters of the APC.

    The notorious SLPP – Armies of Professors with photographic memories that never develop into anything tangible or credible. To hell with these criminals, dressed in robes of religious monks. Next time you stand in line to vote, think of the future of your children – Vote Red! Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  5. Died-hard party supporters are the most hypocritical and disingenuous Sierra Leoneans I have ever come across. When the former regime was accused of the same corrupt practices, these same unpatriotic hypocritical individuals wasted no time securing the biggest and loudest vuvuzela they can lay their hands on to trumpet the reports. Now with the coins flipped, they are preaching for patience and wanting folks to wait for evidence. Talking about selling your soul to the devils, what more is there to show how dishonest one can be??

    I guess some of you are used to feeding the same misinformation to a bunch of illiterate villagers. Thank God this platform is far from that. Keep exposing your rear behind.

    • Young4na, do you have to be nasty, rude and obnoxious to make your point? Why would you pass a guilty verdict before the evidence is out? What if most of the missing funds were plundered by your kleptomaniac APC in the first quarter of 2018?

      I feel sorry for some you guys when Maada Bio wins a second term. The attitude of waiting for the next shoe to drop in Salone is infantile. Moreover, it is just not healthy to be this hateful. Life is too short.

    • Indeed. “it is not just healthy to be this hateful”. But, “it is just healthy to say or bring out the FACTS”. What do you expect when “SOJAMAN is PRACTICING to become a POLITICIAN?”. I hope no ELECTIONS RIGGING take place in 2023. We hope for a fair and INDEPENDENT NEC.

      ORDER!! Mr. David Bangura. No war of words. Although, I am occupied at the moment, I have a few minutes to spare and help keep ORDER. We must refrain from the WAR of Words for the reading pleasure of our READERS and all FORUMITES on this GLORIOUS PLATFORM. I will be back soon. YEAH. ORDER, ORDER Mr. David Bangura. GOD BLESS YOU and may GOD help “GET SALONE SORTED”.

  6. I personally believe that a therapist is needed just to calm down some nerves in this forum because anytime corruption is mentioned most APC members automatically switch from distraction mode by questioning the credibility and integrity of good citizens who are respected around the world. I’m even afraid that some people are about to have a nervous breakdown due to consistent PANIC ATTACKS.

    The ACC Commissioner has just simply notified the people of Sierra Leone and the world that he will hold a PRESS CONFERENCE next week about the 2018 Audit Report without naming anyone, because as the Krio proverb says – “NA CALL NAME GET PLABA AND NOTTO BECOZ CUT NOSE MAN DAE NA TONG SO NOBODY NOR FOR SELL PEPEH”

  7. I do not really understand why people are rushing to make a speedy judgement over stuff that has not even been finished investigated yet. Yes, we all can acknowledge and understand that not everyone likes to see Bio’s administration succeed, but mind you we are all Sierra Leoneans.

    The picture can tell you how upset the president is. If you truly love Sierra Leone you won’t be praying and be happy about this kind of news about your beloved country. We are backward, when will Sierra Leone go forward?

    Some people have even started saying “that’s why we need to elect Sam Sumana as president”!! Is this what we call patriotism? A small tiny little Sierra Leone – not even 8 million population in the whole country. The 11 year mess that APC gov’t inflicted on that country – you think that the people will just put that behind them easily?

    Men you’re joking. APC can go ahead and nominate Sam Sumana as they are planning to twist their constitution and make the former president Ernest Bai Koroma as his running mate. Brother I wish you live long to witness the 2023 poll. I will pray for you. The ECOWAS community, Ghana, Nigeria let alone Sierra Leoneans in the country and abroad are very mad and angry at Sam Sumana. They are calling him a traitor. We can’t wait to see him as the APC flag bearer for 2023.

    APC is doing everything, even to change a female to complete male to reoccupy State House, but the people have assured them that the 70s are gone. If not for the massive 2018 Bio led poll victory, Ernest Bai Koroma could have become the country’s prime minister today and Dr. Samura Kamara his puppet shoe polisher president at State House.

    Brothers and sisters let’s talk about the reality. I wish that I would be able to post the APC secretary general’s comments he made against Sam Sumana. He said a lot of negative things about Sam Sumana. Do you think APC loves Sumana? They will use him but not the Kono people.

    Bio is a leader and a good decision maker. He’s surrounded himself with some nice, intelligent people. He used to make good decisions at the war front with success; and trust me, he is doing the same again at State House. So let’s pray for the president and the country. Thank you.

  8. The ACC is like a Doctor found totally guilty of irresponsible, shocking, unheard of attitudes of malpractices. (lol) They have serious credibility, moral and ethical issues to deal with among themselves. No one on planet earth is ever going to be able to convince me that they are trustworthy, even handed, serious, focused and committed in the fight against corruption. No one! Not even the incomparable Gautam the Buddha whom I adore, or Mother Teresa that is the epitome of honesty and sincerity will be able to persuade me to have faith in the shady, underhanded ACC.

    What a bunch of rag tag masqueraders they are! Here’s what’s so ridiculous and silly about the ACC: We have a Finance Minister that is fleecing the system, overspending his ministerial budget by mind boggling amounts; and the tribalistic and nepotistic ACC has not uttered or whispered even a single word in that regard. And then there is the bribery scandal involving a Freeloading Chief Minister that was quietly swept under a rug; neither was our morbidly obese, incompetent, nonchalant President, or the dubious, ridiculous, spurious ACC willing to clarify things and offer the general public any sensible explanations about that mysterious 1.5 million dollars that created all the crazy brouhaha.

    And who is it among you gullible millions, languishing in abject poverty in Sierra Leone that still thinks the shadowy, shady ACC is a force for good? (lmao). And who still thinks this coup-plotter that once brazenly stole and absconded like a Brigantine Pirate – 18 million dollars of the poor people’s money, is honest and seriously motivated about fighting corruption in our beloved nation?

    Wake the hell up Sierra Leone, and see the light of dawn – they are playing you people for suckers! Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

    • I can’t help it. It’s hard to stay away from this PLATFORM, even if you are very occupied. But a few minutes contribution is worth it. I was fiddling with one of my gadgets when I saw my phone still displaying the Sierra Leone Telegraph Newspaper website.

      Mr. Saidu Conteh’s comment was the first I consulted and I was attracted by where he mentioned about the mysterious $18,000,000 FRAUD. What about the almost $500,000 that was squandered to buy HELICOPTER SPARE PARTS that was never delivered? TU PARLES?

      We were made to understand that the company in question was owned by a FORMER NPRC JUNTA BOSS. Don’t ask me which? Can you imagine?

      Ladies and Gentlemen. Keep bringing the facts out. I will be back in full force/form very soon. Behave well and join me “GET SALONE SORTED”. GOD BLESS Mr Saidu Conteh and GOD BLESS ALL FORUMITES.

  9. Another report of malpractice. This time the incumbent goverment is asked to respond to seaching questions. When is all this going to end? The report sends a terrible signal to international donors and prospective investors, that possibly nothing has changed in regard to malpractices and corruption. Same old accusations.

    As an international trader with long standing buisness in this country, it breaks my heart to keep defending these constant TV reports and continuing government investigations into corruption. I’m based in the Middle East where discussion about Africa always leads to corruption, and most in the buisness community are sensitive about governence and compliance in Africa. This audit report only highlights their concerns.

    I try to wave the flag for this country but reports like this make it all the more challenging.

  10. The same old corrupt thieves but now wearing GREEN uniforms instead of the RED. Virtually all across the MDAs these kleptomaniacs were having field days – siphoning meager public resources, while at the same time making hypocritical noises about the former regime being corrupt.

    In their usual tribalistic and nepotistic culture, the regime wasted no time in sacking hundreds of citizens they deem to be opposition sympathizers. What follows was a rehiring process where qualifications were solely based on being an SLPP sympathizer or having a last name connected to the SOUTH-EAST region of the country.

    With most public offices now being occupied by the newly recruited SLPP party sympathizers, many of them lacking experience and desperate to get rich/build mansions in the shortest possible time, one should not be surprised by this alarming audit report. Yet we have individuals who have given up their own common sense and thinking capacity trying very hard to fool themselves (not us) in believing that, despite the APC not being in power, some how they were still responsible for public procurements, issue payments for services, approve travel allowances, order fuel distribution, and a host of other actions that the SLPP regime officials have defaulted in.

    As we speak, these hypocrites are busy building mansions with their newly stolen loot. I know several regime officials whose mansions are near completion within this short period they have been in power.

  11. Now the circus begins.(lol)Get yourselves some front row seats to the main event,where tribalism,nepotism,and marginalization are all actors,performing live on center stage.(lol) All the handpicked puppets in the upcoming charade have been thoroughly schooled,and examined – loose strings,and screws have all been tightened,strengthened,and reinforced by the Puppet master himself,for better performance.(lol)The main event has been sponsored by State House,and a notorious criminal SLPP cabal,anxious to settle scores.

    The usual suspects will be none other than innocent APC members,supporters,and sympathizers….and there you have it,in a nutshell,a brief analysis on how things are going to be next week…Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  12. This is one of the many problems facing our country. GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS (CIVIL SERVANTS/MINISTERS) FAIL/REFUSE to take RESPONSIBILITY for what happens under their WATCH. SAD. I took full responsibility for my ACTIONS and APOLOGIZED on this PLATFORM.

    Why can’t people who are entrusted with the DAY TO DAY affairs of running our country can’t just take RESPONSIBILITY for their actions? Rather, they play the BLAME GAME and kick the CAN DOWN the ROAD. This is why the APC PARTY must do all it could to elect Chief Sam Sumana next LEADER of the PARTY and “GET SALONE SORTED”. Our country is in a big MESS and needs to be SORTED.

    Is the GOVERNMENT going to close the BORDERS TODAY or TOMORROW? You tell me why? GOD BLESS the ACC with its announcement. I will visit this article again?

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