Presidential candidates for the ruling party of Sierra Leone in hot water

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 August 2017

The Sierra Leone Telegraph has been reliably informed that two of the leading contenders for the ruling APC presidential candidacy, are either facing overseas travel restrictions, or awaiting charges in the USA or UK for their part in mining corruption allegations.

According to sources, former rutile mining CEO – John Bonoh Sesay (Photo) is said to be facing arrest in the UK by the fraud squad, after an investigation by the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into alleged bribery and corruption at the Sierra Rutile Mining Ltd., before the company was sold to the Australian Iluka Mining.

But Sisay had denied those allegations in a statement a few weeks ago.

It is understood that he has been advised by lawyers not to travel overseas, as he may be arrested to face justice in Britain’s courts for corruption related offences, including money laundering.

Legal experts say that although Mr Sisay will not risk travelling to the UK anytime soon – as elections are due in Sierra Leone in March next year, there is possibility the Serious Fraud Office may request his extradition. Mr Sisay has dual British – Sierra Leonean nationality.

The Sierra Leone Telegraph has tried to obtain comments from Mr Sisay’s campaign team on this story, but without success.

There are also similar reports of pending prosecution in the USA and Britain, of Sierra Leone’s mining minister – Mr Minkailu Mansaray, for corruption and money laundering allegations.

The mining minister who is also a leading contender for the ruling APC party presidential candidacy, is presently under serious suspicion of wrong doing in the country’s Hajj corruption scandal. Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission is presently conducting its investigations.

According to sources, authorities in both Britain and the USA are concerned about the role of mining minister Mansaray (Photo) in the awarding of lucrative mining contracts that have caused massive loss of revenue to the people of Sierra Leone, estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars.

It is understood that a few foreign companies whose interests are believed to have been damaged by the alleged corruption at the ministry, have filed reports of wrongdoing to the authorities in the USA and UK, who are now examining records including overseas bank accounts.

The recent prosecution and conviction of a former Guinean mines minister – Mahmoud Thiam in the USA, has sent shock waves across governments in African countries where corruption and impunity is rife. Thiam was found guilty of benefiting from millions of dollars in bribes received from Chinese companies.

Earlier today BBC reporter Umaru Fofanah reported that there are rumours the ruling APC may be planning to postpone presidential and general elections scheduled for March 2018.

Analysts believe that this worrying development may be connected to the decline in morale within the APC party, as persistent reports of high level corruption in the government appears to be consuming the party.

Last week, the party announced the postponement of its national convention, which was expected to take place next week.

Editor’s Note

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  1. I understand that Iluka’s first order of business following the completion of the acquisition was to terminate Sierra Rutile’s contracts with John Sisay’s companies, as well as numerous contracts Sierra Rutile had entered into with Mr. Sisay’s friends.

    Mr. Sisay is indeed brazen to have run a public company in the manner being alleged with no proper procurement process in place. Did he think he could get away with it? Did he think that the management he left behind would not alert Iluka to what had been going on?

    Pala’s exit strategy was always going to be the sale of the company. Why did Mr. Sisay think that his corrupt activities would not be uncovered? Perhaps he thought that his special relationship with his cousin would protect him.

    Iluka has their work cut out for them. Good luck operating in such a corrupt environment where the president, minister of mines and others must be paid a bribe every month if your business is to survive.

  2. The people of Sierra Leone have seen it all: Jamil Sahid Mohamed in his little mind thought he owned all the fish in the ocean and all the diamonds and gold in our country. But according to some reports he died in exile with nothing to show the future generation.

    Late M.K Suma of the SLPMB who also thought he owned all the agricultural products of the nation, but also died a pauper. So lets see what will happen to John Sisay.

  3. John Sisay’s ascendancy to the top job in Sierra Leone would be an unmitigated disaster for the people of Sierra Leone. John is undoubtedly the most brazenly corrupt and ill-disciplined individual to ever run for the presidency. He will make Ernest Koroma’s corrupt antics look like a sideshow.

    Not only did Mr. Sisay oversee the paying of bribes to his cousin the President, cabinet ministers and other top government officials over the many years he served as CEO of Sierra Rutile, a public company listed on London’s AIM Market, he also incorporated a series of companies (iMatrix and Elixir being the most well known) to provide all manner of services to Sierra Rutile.

    Mr. Sisay’s ownership interest in these service provider companies was never declared to the applicable regulatory authorities or to Sierra Rutile shareholders as required by law. In the case of iMatrix which was doing millions of dollars in business with Sierra Rutile, Mr. Sisay is the sole shareholder. Any Sierra Leonean can walk into the Office of the Registrar of Companies and view the corporate records and history of incorporation and ownership of these companies.

    Mr. Sisay’s behaviour in this regard breaches any number of conflict of interest rules, best practice guidelines for listed companies as well as his fiduciary duty to Sierra Rutile.
    His criminal activities, including the alleged bribery of top government officials is being investigated by multiple international agencies, including the FBI and US Department of Justice.

    Rumours of his money laundering activities, including on behalf of his cousin the President have been circulating for years. For example, Mr. Sisay’s acquisition of the NDMC compound for an amount far lower than the assessed value of the property, was ostensibly on behalf of his “cousin”.

    The City of London which had embraced Sierra Rutile and its CEO, underwriters and brokers like Mirabaud Securities, debt facility providers like Nedbank and Iluka Resources which acquired Sierra Rutile late last year all now realize that they have been had by an expert conman.

    Sierra Rutile was involved in a giant criminal scheme which involved funnelling huge sums of cash through service provider companies in which John Sisay had an equity interest or was the sole shareholder. ‘Some of this cash supported Mr. Sisay’s extravagant lifestyle and political ambitions while some of the cash was used to pay bribes to public offficials.

    Mr. Sisay even enjoyed a friendly relationship with Herbert Smith Freehills, the magic circle firm, which is now spearheading the investigation of Mr. Sisay’s criminal activities on behalf of Iluka.

    The fact that Mr. Sisay continues to pursue the Presidency is a travesty in and of itself. Sierra Leone deserves much better than this charlatan who is clearly unfit for the presidency.

    Even in his private life, he is ill-disciplined and morally bankrupt.
    Mr. Sisay is well known for his flashy lifestyle and crazy spending, egregious displays of public drunkeness and morally ambiguous behaviour.

    He has no vision for the country beyond picking up where his thieving cousin left off having long ago surrendred to his most base instincts. And with his profligate spending and extravagant tastes, under a John Sisay presidency, Sierra Leone will see corruption the likes of which has never been seen before.

    And if President Koroma believes that Mr. Sisay will protect him and ensure that he is not prosecuted for his own corrupt activities, he should think again. Mr. Sisay is loyal to no one but himself. Was he loyal to Jean Raymond Boulle, the previous owner of Sierra Rutile?

    Other than spraying his ill-gotten cash around to gain political favour, what exactly has Mr. Sisay done for Sierra Leone? Indeed Sierra Leoneans should be wary of politicians whose election strategy consists of buying votes. The buying of votes is simply a down payment to be recouped ten-fold as soon as the politician gains power.

    It is obvious that Sierra Leone cannot police itself. The rot is too deep. Every organ and arm of government from the presidency on down is tainted.

    Indeed Sierra Leone’s hopes for a better future may, as usual, lie in the investigations being conducted by the international law enforcement community: Herbert Smith Freehills, the SFO, FBI, DOJ and Australian authorities.

    The international community must save Sierra Leone from itself and Sierra Leoneans need to learn that holding political power is about public service not self-enrichment.

    Mr. Sisay is not fit for office. He represents the worst of Sierra Leone and a mentality that has resulted in the country’s chronic under performance and lack of progress to date.

    Corruptors cannot be allowed to conduct their activities with impunity while destroying the lives of millions.

    Mr. Sisay should be brought to justice like Beny Steinmetz before him, including being put behind bars in the UK, US or Australia. This is a necessary step if the international law enforcement community is serious about fighting corruption in Africa and if Sierra Leone is to ever realize its full potential.

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