Sierra Leone Telegraph: 01 November 2018:
The former Commissioner General of Sierra Leone’s National Revenue Authority (NRA) – Ms Haja Kallah Kamara, and her former Director of Finance – Abdulai Conteh, have made out of court agreement with the Anti-Corruption Commission to payback monies believed to have been unlawfully taken out of the NRA’s coffers, during their stewardship of the NRA.
According to a statement issued today by the ACC, the payments are “in respect of investigations into off-budget payments whilst they were in office”.
Earlier today, the Sierra Leone Telegraph asked a spokesperson for the ACC to define “off-budget payments”, to which she said that, “these are payments not captured in the budget of the institution. So, they are only justified by explanation and proper approval process. But the monies were unlawfully withdrawn, hence they have entered into an agreement with the ACC to payback every single penny in order to avoid charges being brought to court.”
In its official statement issued today, the ACC said that Ms Kallah Kamara is required to pay back the sum of Two Billion Leones, equivalent to about £200,000 (Two Hundred Thousand Pounds). She has paid back One Billion Leones – equivalent to about £96,000 to the ACC.
She has negotiated and agreed a payment plan for the remaining One Billion Leones (Le1,000,000,000), which according to the ACC must be fully repaid within the next twelve months, starting from today 1st November 2018.
The former Director of Finance – Abdulai Conteh, is required to payback Three Billion Leones – equivalent to about £286,000 (Two Hundred and Eighty-Six Thousand Pounds).
Conteh has already paid Eight Hundred Million Leones to the ACC to stay out of court.
The ACC says that his repayment plan for the outstanding balance will be as follows: To pay the sum of One Billion Leones (Le 1,000,000,000) on or before 5th April 2019.
Thereafter, the former Finance Director will pay the remaining One Billion Two Hundred Million Leones (Le: 1,200,000,000) in instalments of Two Hundred Million Leones (Le: 200,000,000) on the thirtieth of every month, from May to October 2019.
Both Kallah Kamara and Abdulai Conteh will together repay the taxpayer a total of Five Billion Leones that was unlawfully taken out of the NRA account during their stewardship.
The ACC says that in the last five months, it has recovered over Seven Billion, Two Hundred and Sixty-Five Million Leones (Le: 7,265,000,000), all of which is to be paid into the government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund to pay for vital public services such as healthcare and education.
“The Commission wishes to further reassure the general public that it will not relent in ensuring that public funds and public revenue are protected, and where necessary, recovered,” the ACC statement says.
Asked whether the two individuals are likely to plead double jeopardy if subpoenaed by a Commission of Inquiry as part of its investigations into the affairs of corrupt public officials who served in the former Koroma led APC government, the ACC spokesperson speaking under anonymity declined to answer.
According to recent government report, in a twelve months period Haja Kallah Kamara and finance director Abdulai conteh, are alleged to have paid “off budget expenditure” of Le7 billion for fumigation of NRA offices.
It is alleged that she also built a primary school in her name in her village, where she spent 6 billion Leones on corporate social responsibility.
It is also alleged that they paid Le3.8 billion to a fictitious Lynx Investment for stationery for just one supply.
Unconfirmed reports say that most of the payments were also made in cash in the name of junior staff members.
It is reported that the audit only covered one year of 2017, and that given the massive revelation, the Board of directors of NRA have directed that a full-scale audit should be carried out on the finances of NRA to cover donor project funds, NRA 3% paid by Government, duty waiver account and anti-smuggling accounts.
There are allegations also that the management of NRA allowed several businesses and individuals to evade taxation payment.
One of those businesses is the local cable TV network – DSTV, who evaded tax payment of about 6 Billion Leones.