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 But the monies were unlawfully withdrawn, hence they have entered into an agreement with the ACC to payback every single penny in order to avoid charges being brought to court.”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.
The NRA under Haja Kallah Kamara was a CASH COW!!
In my opinion, l believe that the current government is not understanding the satanic power of destruction that the APC party and government is blessed with. The APC are destructive in governance but more destructive in opposition as was evidenced by former president Koroma’s government, also during late president Kabba first term as president and now during the 6 months of president Maada Bio.
So I personally believe that the current government is walking the thin line between accountability and stability since after APC shockingly lost the past election our nation has been classified as a fragile state. In Krio proverb: “U FOR TAKE TEM KILL ANCH FOR SEE E GUT”.
Just a reminder, this destructive institution that is disguised as a political party has about 50% support around the nation and they control the capital Freetown where the power seats.
What a disgrace former President Koroma should bow down his head in shame to preside over such illegal scams setting aside financial regulations for such huge amounts. This is what they referred to as ‘de pa de wok’ my foot. The former President was part and parcel of this cabal and we are waiting for him to be reined in.
NRA became a thieving den instead of an institution to raise revenue. Haja Kallah Kamara and Abdulai Conteh should face jail for their crimes, any softly softly approach like just paying back is not good enough examples have to be set to deter others.
These ‘ayampis’ (thieves) will never know peace. To deliberately take what belongs to the tax payer whilst ordinary citizens suffer is unforgivable.
I can imagine how much more they have stashed away, not just cash but houses as well. They may have even purchased houses abroad with their ill-gotten gains.
They should not be allowed to get away with their thievery. They should be taken to court and found guilty and face jail time, otherwise in future they could argue that they were never charged and found guilty in a court of law.
At the moment, the law is too lenient on corrupt public officers. Most often than not, the punishment meted out to convicted public officers does not fit the crime. This has emboldened corrupt public officers to continue to loot the national coffers.
To act as a preventive measure to would be fraudsters, severe punishments like the forfeiture of property or properties, heavy fines and jail time or both should be the norm in punishing convicted corrupt public officers. In all cases an interest must be levied, based on the prevailing interest rate calculated for the period the money was stolen.
Please let’s bear in mind that ‘One is presumed innocent until proven guilty’. For those who know the record keeping habits of our institutions, it is indeed a very difficult task to collect all the details and evidence needed in a court trial. Let’s be satisfied for this great effort of the ACC and wish them great success. WELL DONE.
It’s true Mr. Moiba, but if they have admitted taken such amount that means they are guilty.
If the ACC can retrieve more than Seven Billion,Two Hundred and Sixty-Five Million Leones (Le: 7,265,000,000) in the last five months and the City Council of Freetown can collect 300% more tax (in just five months) more than the whole of 2017…..what does that tell us about the quality and management of the past government.
President Bio did the right thing in removing the former ACC head and all other heads of our institutions. Witch hunt… no where to be seen. I fully support the move of the ACC in coming to terms with those found guilty of embezzling government funds and monies.
It does appear that Commissioner Kaifala is doing his utmost to execute his duties in an exemplary manner,but we must remember to be somewhat wary in making sweeping conclusions based entirely on what we see or are told by officialdon.
Kaifala is operating within a political framework and owes his tenure to President Bio who is having his second inning as head of government.In his first stint as military leader he was accused of very shady actions,including the embezzling of millions of dollars.
When APC came to power in 2007 under Earnest Koroma, they reconised that they would eventually join their twin partner [SLPP] in committing financial crimes and so contrived not to pursue any inquiry into the criminal behaviour of their predecessors who included the then Brigadier Maada Bio. And so the suffering of mother Sierra Leone continued,her tears continued to roll down her face because the majority of her children continue to suffer in the middle of spectacular natural resources.
What I am alluding to is my suspicion that President Bio is showing signs of developing not only cold feet but weak knees too in how Kaifala should deal with thieves of government monies. Why should they not go to jail?Are the monies being paid back by the criminals the full amount of what they stole over the years?What proof can Kaifala give us that the monies are actually being paid by Kalla Kamara and others?What is being done to bring back home former members of the APC government who have fled the country?
To allay some of my suspicion my party,NGC,should become more active in Parliament by demanding to see records of monies being recovered actually reaching the Treasury.The criteria used to determine how much convicts should pay should also be made public.
We should not allow President Bio to hoodwink us with rhetoric because it worries him that in just under five years he may be out of office and at the mercy of APC . Therefore he is urging Kaifala behind the scenes to go gently on his twin partners.
So they stole Billions and yet they are given time to pay half of what they stole. The money they are going to pay will be from the proceeds of their ill-gotten wealth that they stole and invested. At the end of the day, they will still be better off than the majority of Sierra Leoneans.
Yesterday I read an article where a man was sent to three years imprisonment at the Pademba Road Maximum prison for stealing a goat. The poor guy was not given an option to pay a fine.
I think the next review of the ACC Act should take into consideration this loophole for White Collar Criminals who are made to pay back only half their stolen money, while they maintain their wealth, integrity and prestige and they can even go ahead and apply for another job without hindrances because there is no conviction against them. Was that not the case with Mahmoud Idriss, Edmond Koroma and another?
You are absolutely right Mr. Kamara. The fund they are paying back is just half of what they have illegally taken from Sierra Leone and its people. These funds could have been used to improve or save the lives of many Sierra Leoneans or, could have been used to invest in ways to help the image of this country.
They instead chose to steal the funds for their selfish aims. Pursuant by the ACC is a must to return the funds they have stolen. However, they should be imprisoned also for their selfish acts and the betrayal to a country they claim as their own. Also, the combination of both punishments could be a deterrent to prevent others from doing the same act.
Bravo to the ACC for the marvelous works they’re doing…God bless them abundantly. But one thing that confuses most is; What have the former ACC bosses been doing? With all of these decayed corruptions that were happening, what has been their work during their era? Or were they jeopardizing the past Government’s efforts? Covering their wrong doings..?
My Suggestion is this: Please Sierra Leone Telegraph, take this suggestion to the present ACC’s Head: Let them please investigate the former ACC Officials from the head to the least official.. and let them tell the public what has been their work during their era, whilst we had massive CORRUPTION in our country.
Please, I’m pleading, let this suggestion reach the present ACC and let them take it into consideration.
These thieves are prepared to pay the money to avoid court proceedings. And the law has allowed them to get away with their crimes.
Yet if an unemployed family man stole Le 1 million leones, he would be beaten up, asked to pay back every cent and then throw into prison.
These crooks who were put in charge of a sensible department as the NRA, have let the citizens down.
They unashamedly put their fingers into the honey pot, kept licking and did not know when to stop. Shame on them.
They should be punished to show politicians of the present and future governments that if you steal state funds, you will be dealt with by the full extent of the law.
As it is, they have only had their wrists slapped, gently.
This is my opinion and position. These former high ranking members of the NRA should pay the stolen monies back with interest. They have deprived 5.98 million of our people of their basic rights to a good standard of living. This is treason, stealing from the coffers of the nation.
I think the ACC must recover all stolen monies and assets to compensate for what 5.98 million lost, and also have a jail term for not less than 5 years. These guys are filthy rich, that is why they requesting an out of court settlement.
This a bad precedent the ACC is buying into. Does the ACC know how much was stolen? They want to settle the matter and take their loots, go abroad to enjoy, while our people and country are left impoverished. They should serve jail term.