Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 February 2020:
The first accused in the corruption trial involving three National Revenue Authority (NRA) officers in Sierra Leone – Abubakarr Sidikie Kamara, is now on the run. A news update tweeted this morning by the ACC boss – Francis Ben Kaifala, says that although Abubakarr Sidikie Kamara has gone into hiding, he will be tried in absentia, under the newly amended Anti-Corruption Laws.
According to the ACC boss, the first accused Abubakarr Sidikie Kamara is in process of building three houses concurrently.
He, along with two other revenue officers at the NRA have been charged with misappropriating a total of Le5.4 Billion in air travel taxes paid to them by travel companies.
According to the ACC, between March 2018 and September 2019, Abubakarr Sidikie Kamara, who is charged with four counts of Misappropriation of Public Revenue, contrary to Section 36(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008, in his then capacity as Revenue Officer in the RPRP Department of the NRA, misappropriated a total sum of Three Billion, Eighty-Eight Million, Eight Hundred and Seventy-Eight Thousand, and Five Leones (Le3, 088,878,005) of Public Revenue, in the form of Foreign Travel Taxes paid by the airliner – Royal Air Moroc, and Foreign Travel Taxes paid by Euro World SL Ltd.
The second accused, Mariama Ballah Conteh – who is currently employed as Revenue Officer in the RPRP Department of the NRA, misappropriated a total of One Billion, Seven Hundred and Twenty-Three Million, Eight Hundred and Fifty Nine Thousand, Six Hundred Leones (Le1, 723,859,600) of public revenue, in the form of Foreign Travel Taxes paid by Euro World SL Ltd.
Mariama Ballah Conteh faces three counts of Misappropriation of Public Revenue, contrary to Section 36(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008.
The third accused – Jeneba Sesay, also a Revenue Officer currently employed in the RPRP Department of the NRA, is alleged to have misappropriated public revenue amounting to Five Hundred and Seventy Million, Two Hundred and Seven Thousand Leones (Le.570, 207,000.00), on 29th March 2018, in the form of Foreign Travel Tax paid by Euro World SL Ltd.
Jeneba Sesay faces one count of Misappropriation of Public Revenue, contrary to Section 36(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008.
All three accused are indicted for misappropriating a total sum of Five Billion, Three Hundred and Eighty-two Million, Nine Hundred and Forty-Four Thousand, Six Hundred and Five Leones (Le.5, 382,944,605) of collected taxes that should have gone into the public purse.
All three accused are expected to appear at the High Court in Freetown next Monday, 24th February, 2020.
What I don’t understand is how such huge amounts of money can be misappropriated by revenue officials. It goes to show that the financial management and regulation system in place is very weak. I would want to know how these taxes were paid. Cash Cheques? Etc. And if paid in cash, why are such transactions still allowed, other than paying in to the NRA accounts. It will be interesting to know the details of this case which is a clear failure by Management and hope they will learn from this, as there are simple procedures that can prevent this.
Thank you very much Med Sillah for your brilliant analysis on this matter. The ACC chairman, the Financial Secretary and the NRA boss should explain. They allowed this mess to happen. The ACC boss in an interview with Tripple A sometime ago said that, one of the priorities of his department was to stop corruption even before it starts. If such a thing could happen, tells us two things about the ACC and it’s commissioner. One is that, the section responsible for the proactive detection of corruption/fraud is not fit for purpose or, it was all “bluff talk” and nonsense by the ACC boss in that interview.
I heard even the President, when he took power, talking about a single account for government revenue collection. Correct me if I’m wrong. How come every thing has now changed? I believe, things changed because, some unscrupulous and rogue advisers, politicians and officials in the Bio administration, want to have a loophole in the revenue collection system to steal the people’s money.
I believe businesses, companies, private enterprises and even private citizens must pay their taxes directly to the government’s revenue account. How did these junior NRA officials squander this huge amount? They must have done it with the help of some strongest links, who are untouchable because, the SLPP is in power.
Finally, the heads of the ACC and the NRA, and the Financial Secretary, must give account as to why this unforgivable financial mess happened. With all the e-government and management systems we are hearing in place, yet such a corrupt financial mess is happening. I believe that heads must roll. What do you think will happen, when investors hear such lack of responsibility at the highest hierarchy of our revenue collection institution? They will just fly away, I reckon.
Frankly speaking, some high ranking corrupt individuals in all these three departments named, must be investigated. Period.
God help rid our country from deceitful, unscrupulous and rogue government officials. Amen and Amen.
Not impressive. Only the weakest links are chased. The strongest ones are hiding behind the cover of the valley of the shadow of death. Can you imagine? To be continued.
It’s no secret that corruption is embedded in almost every sector of society. This is one reason why the fight against corruption must never be politicized as we have observed on numerous occasions. The ACC must target and treat all corruption cases equally, not on a selective case as we sometimes observed.
Like these 3 civil servant found to be wanting, there are 100s of others stealing our nation’s meager resources to erect mansions but many of them are being protected because they are deemed to be supporters of the regime; this has to end if the fight against corruption is to succeed.
The government must make them know that corruption does not pay anyone. They must pay the stolen money or be imprisoned for their irregularities at the office they worked. I am very pleased with the president our brother about the task he is taking to deal with the criminals and crimes.