One Hundred and Forty One Billion Leones missing in government’s accounts – says auditor general

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 December 2019:

The 2018 Report of Sierra Leone’s Auditor General – Mrs Lara Taylor Pearce, which was today tabled in parliament, 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.

Last year president Bio sacked hundreds of senior public officials he said were 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 government 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.

But today, the Bio-led government itself cannot account for One Hundred and Forty One Billion Leones. Is president Bio going to hold his ministers and senior officials accountable?

One Hundred and Forty One Billion Leones is a massive amount of public funds that must not be swept under the carpet.

Although it is not within the mandate of the Auditor General to pass judgement as to whether there has been corruption by ministers and senior officials, parliament must now order the Anti-Corruption Commission to conduct a thorough investigation into the missing cash.

If ever there is a simple reason as to why Sierra Leone is among the poorest countries in the world, despite massive mineral wealth deposits, this is it – corruption, maladministration and poor governance.

Will Sierra Leone ever be blessed with good government?

You Can Read the Full Report Here:

Sierra Leone Auditor General Report 2018

18 Comments

  1. Now … unless one is still hibernating in an undulating stratosphere, the revelation by the meticulous Auditor General of the missing one hundred and forty-one billion Leones (Le141,000,000,000 … pheew!) from government coffers, under the stewardship of a bunch of stragglers, who anonymously call themselves the ‘new direction’; the thought of this exorbitant amount of money is enough to raise one’s blood pressure and wake up to the realization that Sierra Leoneans have been taken for a ride by this cabal of thieves in the 2018 parliamentary and presidential elections.

    Without casting any lack of conviction, the Sierra Leone Peoples Problem (SLPP) is the main stumbling block to the development of this tiny, prosperous and beautiful country. What did the late President Alhaji Ahmed Tejan Kabbah accomplish for Sierra Leone? Apart from engaging ‘peace killers’ from various countries to demoralize the nation and consequently quench his thirst for power, there is virtually no tangible development that can be accredited to him – even though billions of dollars from international donors poured into the country during his 11-year tenure.

    The adage which goes: Once a Thief, Always a Thief is true and correct in all its entirety. It is only unpatriotic and credulous Sierra Leoneans that apparently don’t seem to subscribe to it. Thieving is a habitual phenomenon. Just like snorting cocaine – which some of these introverted and dubious Saints seemingly indulge in – once hooked, the likelihood of refraining from the induced fantasy that comes with it is quite minimal.

    Even when there is not enough sunshine, they elude themselves in dark shades of glasses and pretend to be in control and complete sobriety. Who can blame them? After all, the gullible people of Sierra Leone have given them the licence to coexist in wonderland.

  2. The period of transition from one government to the next is so difficult to pass through without a recourse to dangers, as this case has already manifest. 141 billion is somewhere and that I believe, but I don’t know where it might be. Who to accuse; those ones, these ones – only God knows!!The past government administration out malice because they have been voted out of power by citizens would use the period of transition to misappropriate some funds. And this administration might as well grab the golden opportunity to embezzle some to hopefully cast blame on the past administration.

    The unfortunate side of the report is when some documents are not presented. In this case,a new policy is to be fixed in place. Everyone dealing with monies must have copies of every documents signed as evidence to safe guard himself for future investigation. Whosoever fail to present his copies of documents is proved already guilty for the crime levied against him/her.

  3. If you find yourself still asking why the APC didn’t do this,or that,when they were in power,then check yourself,before you wreck yourself and self destruct through your incoherent, thoughtless mumblings and rantings that have now become known as (CNH) compulsive negative habits of the delusional SLPP.(lol)

    Here we are,trying to unravel the mystery of brazen robbery that happened under the watchful eyes of the New Thieving Direction,and some totally oblivious Caterpillar,dressed in green is desperately trying to override the natural process of transformation, anxious to become reborn into a majestic, adorable, big beautiful, colourful butterfly.(lol) Wake the hell up man,and Know the Ledge.

    The process that easily facilitates change from caterpillars to butterflies is a long and tedious one Mr Komba, it cannot be fast tracked, accelerated or hurried. And you must remember, all of the current SLPP leaders are an unproductive bunch of slow crawling Caterpillars without wings, without sensory antennas and appendages for clear discernment, so remain what you are Sir, until existence thoughtfully decides its time for liberation.(lol)

    Again to become a moth that dances, and soars,you will need to learn how to think outside the box,sharpen,and broaden your intuition through experience,immerse yourself in daily meditation,and let refined intelligence galvanize and motivate you towards greater heights.It ain’t easy! Also,to become an amorous,passionate,freethinking butterfly like Saidu Conteh,you will need to walk ten steps,and five strides inside shoes burning,and blazing with fire. There’s no other way!(lol)

    140 billion leones is no small change amigo,and it is missing,unaccounted for under the lackadaisical watch of the notorious SLPP. And you have the audacity to senselessly utter that this inept President is doing a fantastic job? Are you people losing your unthinking, crappy,dimwitted minds? Rampant thefts and corruption now prevail, and here you are blowing trumpets, and singing delusional songs of praises? Wake the hell up man, its daybreak! Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

  4. Only in Sierra Leone my only home,will you find tribalistic,arrogant kleptomaniacs,in possession of the keys to the coffers and treasuries of a struggling,fragile nation.(lol) Lord have mercy! 140 Billion juicy Leones up in smoke,vanished,into thin air,like a fart in the wind.(lol)

    Think for a minute,isn’t it absolute madness,that the State has been losing truckloads of revenues and monies under the watchful eyes of the SLPP yet the delusional, malfeasant ACC has been stupidly out there bullying,humiliating,and parading teachers in public,without giving them access to adequate legal representation?

    What the hell kind of justice is that? The ACC must now do what is expected of them,buckle up,and fulfill their duties and obligations to our nation,by conducting a thorough investigation into the affairs of this corrupt SLPP Government,now in power.

    It’s time for Ben Kaifaila “to put up,or shut up,” it’s time for him to prove to the world whether he is an untainted patriot or a hand and string puppet being controlled by the man in State House….Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

    • “The ACC must now do what is expected of them,buckle up,and fulfill their duties and obligations to our nation,by conducting a thorough investigation into the affairs of this corrupt SLPP Government,now in power.” -Saidu Conteh.

      Thanks Saidu for honestly admitting that Pres. Bio is doing a wonderful job. I am wondering why Bai Koroma did not investigate SLPP when they took over. Isn’t that condoning corruption? Is it then fair for me to say that we have a lot of silly folks galavanting cyber space more so Salone Telegraph?

  5. Thanks to President Bio for bringing the discourse on corruption to the forefront of the minds of even the less educated amongst us. He will forever remain the pioneer of setting our country straight. Other areas to revisit will be to replace all incompetent workers accross the board. There are more areas to revisit. This can go upto the grass roots. A real statescraftmanship is needed.

    For those having a field day on this; my education lets me know that it is normal. I am not bothered. For those who are really offended and are embittered, sorry, I cannot help you. Your maleducation is to be blammed. You cannot critically think. That is not my responsibility. All I know is, Sierra Leoneans are the winners in this. The avalanche has started, started in our beloved Salone. For those who can critically think, this is deep.

    For Abdul Rashid, my hats up to you bro’. Keep on reporting. Every little thing helps. You might not be able to support investigative journalism, but you are trying in the little that you do. You do not need to have everything in place to start. Start small and grow. It is left to readers to analytically think. Those half educated will always have pain in their hearts and will be all over the place ranting. You are my brother and I will support anything that helps bring you revenue down the road. (For the rest of you … Sheeee! Wu na nor cam poil ya oo).

    • Stop moaning man! And try to be consistent in your thinking. Your ideas are scattered everywhere. No one is interested in your Oxford Education. Or shall we say your ‘Oxford Grammar’? Substance man … substance is the name of the game here. You might just be good at offending or ‘winding’ other people. Take that attitude somewhere else. This platform only caters for TRUE PATRIOTS. Clear enough?

  6. “Are you OK Mr David Samura? The Editor has provided the report. Why EMBARRASS yourself by trying to defend STATE ROBBERY by some UNSCRUPULOUS POLITICIANS and SPECIAL INTEREST INDIVIDUALS?”-Sahr Matturi

    Sahr Matturi, with all due respect, I am not defending STATE ROBBERY by UNSCRUPULOUS POLITICIANS AND SPECIAL INTEREST INDIVIDUALS as you have unfortunately concluded. However, I am entitled to have empirical evidence before I draw the dagger. I do not swallow sensational journalism as some have the habit of doing something that is akin to a fish swallowing a bait hanging on a hook. This is an audit report.

    An audit report is a written opinion of an auditor regarding an entity’s financial statements. An audit report is issued to a user of an entity’s financial statements. The user may rely upon the report as evidence that a knowledgeable third party has investigated and rendered an opinion on the financial statements.

    Is an audit report different from an investigation report? Yes it is. Unfortunately, many people get confused between these two terms easily due to lack of knowledge and proper understanding. While Auditing is a process of identifying whether the results of accounting information are accurate and according to the specified norms or not, an investigation is a severe examination of specific records so as to highlight a fact. Those fact can be accrued from The HOW, WHY, WHERE, WHEN , WHAT, WHICH.

    If you put your emotions aside Mr. Matturi and read my post again, you will find sentence like “This is the more reason why members of the public are entitled to see the undoctored Auditor General’s report to know when in 2018 monies were used for which no documents were used”

    You will also notice in my conclusion this sentence ” I might be wrong and the Editor might be privy to the full report and therefore can authoritative state that the monies not accounted for got missing under the watchful eyes of the incumbent president.
    If it is as stated emphatically by our Editor, I would support that this president be impeached for such malfeasance in his 7 and half month in office”

    I do not and I would not condo corruption because I have genuine lien in Sierra Leone. However, I have the moral responsibility to my self to not just talk or write but to write and talk with sincerity of purpose and I can only do that when I know the fact. I pray that our parliament would do their constitutional duty to investigate and present us all with the fact of the financial status of our country for the 2018 financial cycle.

    ART, I missed the link as I was in transit when I read your report on my phone. I have read the report and I still stand by my assertion that we need to know the totality of the evidence before casting serious and impeachable indictment on the current government.

    • Good morning David – I trust you are keeping well. Season’s greetings to you my friend. David – the Sierra Leone Telegraph is not calling for the impeachment of president Bio (at least not yet – if ever), based on this Report. But the government must be held accountable for the findings of this 2018 Report. The buck stops with this government, to explain to the public: the what, who, why, how, when and where the Le141 Billion have disappeared to.

      If you read the article again, we did say that parliament must instruct the ACC to conduct a thorough investigation of the findings of the report so that those responsible for the losses can be brought to justice. The Commission of Inquiry into the management of State affairs by the APC government is investigating the period 2007 to when APC left office in April 2018. So, whatever wrongdoing took place in the first half of 2018 to which the Audit Report speaks, will be made known by the COI.

      Until then, this government will be held accountable for the full 2018 Audit Report. Note that I said ACCOUNTABLE. We await the ACC investigations to apportion responsibility. Many thanks David.

    • David Samura — “I have read the report and I still stand by my assertion that we need to know the totality of the evidence before casting serious and impeachable indictment on the current government.”

      My brother Mr. Samura, your above assertions cannot be disputed in an ideal world; this is exactly the legal standards in indictment proceedings. However, just out curiosity, did you apply this same standards when the former regime (APC) was in this same predicament??

      Also, I will like to applaud you in taking time to read all 389 pages of the report as you claimed; I candidly did not and have no plans on spending over an entire day or more reading 389 pages. Kudos to you if you indeed invested that many hours in such a report.

  7. My sincerest thanks,and appreciation to two of the most brilliant,pragmatic,thoughtful distinguished gentlemen,and pacesetters on this glorious forum – Mr Oluwale John,and Mr Young4na for having the moral courage,and intelligence to not sugarcoat the truth,but to call things as they really are.Nuff respect gentlemen!

    Indeed seasons will come and go – Warm,cozy,lovely Summers will unfailingly transform themselves into the harshest freezing, winter cold,and in due time also,in faraway places,humidly dry seasons,are surely bound to be replaced by the sweet soothing sounds of gentle,or heavy rainfalls.Such are the essential,mesmerizing,and intrinsic ways of Existence,and they are beautiful beyond what words can ever express.

    But lets not get carried away – the ways of existence are different from the ways of men.They are glorious,magnificent,and untainted.True.Not the same thing can be said about these terrible, suffocating,artificial,man made seasons of abject poverty,drought,lack,and unproductivity,created by the thieving hands of the SLPP. Yup,Seasons of drought,are now being unequivocally created,and nurtured,from the abysmal depths of stupidities,and incompetence,and then being systematically imposed upon the good people of our beloved Sierra Leone. Sad isn’t it?

    Corrupt and inadequate, with thieving attitudes that’s who they are, although professing themselves,to be as clean, and as saintly as religious monks (lol) The Auditor General Report speaks volumes about the corrupt,and lawless attitude of these huge feeding Caterpillars,dressed in green. The SLPP is a Cabal,overcrowded with mobsters, hopeless, shady, and unfazed by criticism – Losers,with hands stained,and tainted with rampant,thefts,and robberies,they have committed behind closed doors,with rancorous,vindictive,and bitter attitudes,that’s who they really are.(lol)

    And to make matters worse,they are a miserable bunch of Tribalistic book crammers,still struggling to know the difference between an ordinary sneeze and a simple,troubling,regular cough.(lol)Rising Sun will Rise Again.

  8. It is right for the Auditor General’s report for 2018 to be made public by parliament as soon as possible since 2018 is a complex political year in Sierra Leone. It is complex because we had elections in March 2018 and the current president assumed office on 4 April 2018. He was officially sworned into office on 12 May 2018. This indicates that he was in charge of the state of affairs of the commonwealth of Sierra Leone for seven and half months while the erstwhile government was in control for close to four and half months.

    The incoming government instituted a commission of enquiry for mostly financial improprieties on the erstwhile government. Does the mandate of the COI extend to the four and half months in 2018 that the erstwhile government was in charge of the purse? This is the more reason why members of the public are entitled to see the undoctored Auditor General’s report to know when in 2018 monies were used for which no documents were used.

    With all due respect to the Editor, his summary or reportage of the report gives me the impression that the Auditor General’s report blames the current government. I might be wrong and the Editor might be privy to the full report and therefore can authoritative state that the monies not accounted for got missing under the watchful eyes of the incumbent president.
    If it is as stated emphatically by our Editor, I would support that this president be impeached for such malfeasance in his 7 and half month in office.

    • Ok David I am following your logic, lets do the maths – SLPP = 7.5 MONTHS OF STEALING; AND APC = 4.5 MONTHS OF STEALING. So SLPP is responsible for stealing almost 70% of the One HUndred and Forty One Billion Leones. Pheeeew…..thats a lot of missing cash!! But I thought SLPP said they are CLEAN? What went wrong? Lol

    • The link to the full report(389 pages) is provided by the editor at the bottom of the article, not sure how you missed it.

    • Are you OK Mr David Samura? The Editor has provided the report. Why EMBARRASS yourself by trying to defend STATE ROBBERY by some UNSCRUPULOUS POLITICIANS and SPECIAL INTEREST INDIVIDUALS? I will be back in a moment to give my LETHAL condemnation after carefully reading and analyzing the report. What a shame.

  9. O Lord Almighty….save our poor people of Sierra Leone from these Kleptomaniacs dressed in GREEN SHEEP CLOTHING!! Is this the fight against corruption they promised us? Is this the plugging of LEAKAGES they sang and danced about?

    Saidu Conteh was right all along about this NEW DIRECTION GOVERNMENT. They are as corrupt as corruption itself!! My GOODNESS….look at this wicked and INEPT GOVERNMENT. Its pointless calling for the ACC to investigate because the ACC boos cannot bite the hands that feeds him. So SALONE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO CONTINUE TO SUFFER!!

    ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY ONE BILLION LEONES MISSING!! These CORRUPT PAOPA GREENGOS have been very busy helping themselves with public funds for the past 20 months, pretending to be ALL CLEAN.

    Now we know why the GRON Is DRY – the economy is failing!! They have stolen every penny and must be held to account. But by whom, I dare ask!! When Samura Kamara accused Bio of stealing $18 million of government cash, no one believed him. Now Bio is showing his true colours. ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY ONE COOL BILLION LEONES MISSING – OH MY GOD!! Roll on 2023 ELECTIONS….

  10. Wow, wow, wow; look at what we have here??? hahaahaa. Boy oh boy; Salone oh Salone!! What a bunch of deceitful, devilish, heartless, immoral, and highly corrupt individuals that called themselves the new direction. Goodness gracious; am I dreaming or something??

    I mean, after all the hype about fighting corruptions, the one sided crusade into opposition parties, the countless public declaration by the leadership regarding the no nonsense stance against corruption; is this the end game?

    I am flabbergasted and lost for words. For those of you (lay-belleh masters) in the platform, worshiping these corrupt evil doers, shame on you. Shame, shame, shame on you all. Your total blind support is creating the enabling environment for these evil doers to continue decimating our one and only country. I am just lost for words. I will surely revisit this article again.

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