Sierra Leone government Chief Minister David Francis accused of massive corruption

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 February 2021:

US based Africanist Press Media has today published another seriously incriminating report about grand corruption in the Bio-led SLPP government of Sierra Leone, as the country’s anti-graft agency – the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), is accused of waging a selective war on corruption.

The Report – tilted: “Chief Minister’s Office spent over Le34 billion on media consultancies and travel per diem in less than three years”, is authored by the renowned investigative journalists – Chernoh Alpha M. Bah, Matthew Anderson, and Mark Feldman.

According to the damning report, financial records obtained by the Africanist Press show how the Office of the Chief Minister of Sierra Leone spent over Le34.2 billion Leones (more than US$3.4 million) in less than three years, despite the fact that President Maada Bio was elected into office in 2018 under the guise of ending the corrupt practices of his predecessor, as well as promising to close all loopholes and leakages in ministerial and public spending.

The report found that the US$3.4 million was spent on overseas travel per diems (expenses listed do not include airfares) and for procurement of goods and services that did not undergo an official competitive bidding process with open requests.

The Chief Minister’s Office financial records indicate that several wire transfers of hundreds of millions of Leones were sent to foreign media agencies and technology companies in Europe, China, and the United States.

These transfers were purportedly for consultancy services, public relations operations, and information technology products. None of these services or products were ever advertised or put on an open bid.

Records of these large monetary transactions and wire transfer payments reveal that these transactions were non-compliant with Sierra Leone’s public finance laws and the public procurement regulations.

Chief Minister Professor David Francis who until 2018 was a professor at Bradford University in the UK, is on record saying that One-Percent corruption is acceptable. There are now calls for his sacking, pending investigations by the ACC.

Sierra Leone’s public finance laws and public procurement regulations require that all expenditures from the country’s Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) – the government’s central treasury accounts – must be based on each procuring agency or department’s approved budgetary and procurement plan, as approved by the Parliament for each specific year, says the report.

“Section 18 of the Public Procurement Act of 2016, one of the laws that regulates public procurement in Sierra Leone, specifically provides that all goods and services procured by a ministry or department must be included in the prior approved annual procurement plan for that entity and that a procurement committee must be in charge of a procurement process.”

Evidence obtained by the Africanist Press shows that procurements for goods and services were mostly undertaken on an ad hoc basis and in ways that openly violated public procurement regulations.

These procurements included, for example, a total of Le1,876,061,250 (about US$185,000) that was paid directly during the last quarter of 2018 to Salman Motors in Freetown. These funds included the alleged purchase of three Toyota Land Cruiser Prado vehicles for the newly established Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI).

“Africanist Press found no evidence in the records of the Office of the Chief Minister to indicate that Salman Motors was awarded the said procurement contract from an open bidding process. In fact, the evidence we reviewed shows that an unusually high advance payment (transaction ID FT1833061004) of Le 1,200,000,000 (about US$120,000) – more than 70% of the contract value – was made to Salman Motors on November 26, 2018, ahead of the supply of the three vehicles that were supposedly purchased for DSTI staff.”

Apart from the lack of evidence of a bidding and tender process, there is also no evidence that an advertisement notice inviting other suppliers to compete for this contract was ever made by the Chief Minister’s Office.

Evidence shows that the remaining balance of Le223,878,750 (about US$22,000) (FT1833849422) was paid on December 4, 2018, to Salman Motors to complete the payment of more than Le1.4 billion spent on the purchase of the DSTI Prado vehicles.

“We have found no evidence that the vendor actually delivered all of the three vehicles that were paid for. Moreover, the 1.2 billion Leones in payments to Salman Motors do not include two earlier payments (FT1829170875 and FT1829709495) of Le200,000,000 (about US$20,000) and Le252,182,500 (about US$25,000) made on October 18, 2018, and October 24, 2018, respectively, for unstated purposes. In fact, there is no records to indicate the purposes of the other earlier combined payments totaling Le452,182,500 ($44,288) made to Salman Motors by the Chief Minister’s Office,” say Africanist Press.

“The Chief Minister’s Office financial records show multiple additional wire transfers to similar media and communication companies including Telerivet Inc, Universal Communications, Café Art Science, PC World.Com, and a host of other foreign-based companies. Africanist Press was unable to confirm the ownership, headquarters location, or legitimacy of these companies.

“We aggregated the expenditure details of the Chief Minister’s Office, and we discovered that in 2019 alone, a total of Le11,324,370,670.62 (over US$1 million) was spent on travel per diems, payments for consultancies, and procurements that were never advertised nor placed on a bidding process. As of 30 December 2019, for example, we discovered that of the Le11,965,770,103.16 (about US$1.2 million) disbursed from the CRF into the Chief Minister’s Imprest Account, only Le697,603,982.82 (about US$68,000) remained unspent by the end of fiscal year 2019.”

“Documents we reviewed also show that a total of Le3,330,412,548.33 (about US$326,000) was spent on travel per diems (amounts listed do not include airfare) between August and December 2018 alone, in the first four months after the appointment of David Francis as the Chief Minister.

“These travel per diems included Le47,011,133.04 (US$5662) paid to David Sengeh (Minister of Basic Education) as per diem allowance to attend the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting on September 21, 2018; another Le72,455,595.25 (US$8,675) (TT1828440049) also paid on October 11, 2018, to David Sengeh and Donald Kopoi for an official travel to the USA to the World Frontier Forum; a Le18,992,162.00 (US$2250) paid to Dr. John Tambi as per diem for participation at the African Infrastructural Conference, a further payment of Le30,089,880 (US$3552) again to David Sengeh, and another payment of Le 44,253,810 (US$5224) (TT1832009428) made on November 16, 2018, to Joe Lahai Somana as travel per diem on official visit to the Hunan Gold and International Investment Limited Company in China. “

“The long list of per diem payments also includes Le57,465,929.71 (US$6751) paid to David Sengeh to attend the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program and Goalkeeper Event in the USA; a further payment of Le25,865,241.45 (US$3,023) made to David Sengeh as per diem allowance to attend the Islamic Development Bank Summit; and a payment of Le159,027,060 (about US$15,000) to Kadie Enterprises to cover air tickets for three officers for an official trip to Estonia, and the sum of Le 174,272,049.00 (US$18,270) as per diem for David Francis and Moinina D. Sengeh for a trip to the UNGA meeting on September 26, 2019. “

For more on this expose – You can visit the Africanist Press Website to read the full report and view the documentary evidence showing the expenditure details of the Office of the Chief Minister:

www.africanistpress.com.

9 Comments

  1. Thanks Mr Massally, for pointing us to the archives of The Sierra Leone Telegraph. That put to bed any of those political operatives, putting out wild accusations , or unfunded frivolous arguments, that the Sierra Leone Telegraph is bias in their reporting of corruption cases under this Bio government.What they failed to understand, the government of the day are the people that should be held to acount for their actions. They have all the chips in their hands. They are the only ones, say for instance foreign investors and the diplomatic corps can deal with to bring about any effective changes to the fortunes of our country. Opposition is just an opposition. More like they are government in waiting. They are their to pointout the flaws of the ruling party regardless of who is in power.

    Over the years, this role have been alternated between the APC, and the SLPP.I think the rank hypocrisy, which is hard to fathom, the SLPP party like to raise more hell when they are in opposition than any other party in our country . If this was an Olympic event, they will get all the gold medals. They have mastered the art of raising hell when its suited their agendas. So when the APC or any other party apply the same dose of medicine against them, they are quick to scream political bias against them. It is easy to shoot the messenger, than do something about the message being conveyed. That is what we Sierra Leoneans are used to. Truth doesn’t matter, as long as you can get away with it. Bio and his government, like to pick up sound bites and feed it like raw meat to their supporters. The only thing consistent is the consistency of their lies to the electorate.

  2. Alusine Fallay, the Chief Minister is in a masterpiece quandary, that is why we do not hear from him and the others. They are hiding in plain sight in full knowledge of what they would face if they dared to even face a press conference with no holds barred. The Africanist press has caught them with their trousers down, while those of us on the sidelines are helping to deepen their conundrum with the help of the Telegraph. I wonder what what would have happened to some of us if the Sierra Leone Telegraph was not around to help us let off some steam.

  3. As a fervent reader of this newspaper for years, I was expecting a publication of the reaction from the Office Of the Chief Minister because of the publication from the Africanist Press. In my opinion, I believe that will continue to prove the objectivity of this credible newspaper which is read by at least 26,000 people worldwide.

    • Well no one expects the Chief Minister, to try and debunk this allegations on this platfrom. That is too much to ask. The Sierra Leone Telegraph is not Pravada, or a party political mouthpiec, that seeks clearances from party oppratives for editorial contents. State controlled media, which by the way is what we Sierra Leoneans are used to from birth, and spoon-fed propaganda, even before we take our first steps. So having the Sierra Leone Telegraph that has no external control, independently minded, and not motivated by any political affiliation, and most importantly, will not compromise in their reporting objectively, as they seek out the truth and report on issues directly affecting our poor state. And of course most tellingly is the deluge of corruption cases that is always been reported.

      What do these deniers of truth want? For the Sierra Leone Telegraph, to start reporting on wildlife issueson or how beautiful our beaches are, minus the proverty, come on give us break. Now one can clearly see why some of us Sierra Leoneans, mostly cry babies, are blaming the editorial management of this highly respected online news outlet for offering us a different form of diet of independence information, that is not laced with alternative facts, as one of Trump’s adviser put it. I wish our country was governed according to the ethical approach and principles of holding those in power and out of power to account. These people in government are highly educated. They know what is good for country. But so far they have chosen a different path; to engage in corruption, which has only brought us underdevelopment and WAR.

    • Alusine Fallay,

      The Editor of this powerful news outlet has been consistent and unequivocal in his take on salient national issues. I have read almost every article published here for ten years now; the Government of the day always faces more scrutiny than the opposition, giving the impression the Editor is in the pockets of the opposition. Some silly APC supporters once accused him of supporting Bio when he was in opposition. The esteemed Editor even once went after Kabs-Kanu – the APC propaganda-In-Chief in this Newspaper

      I have taken my time this morning to scour the archives here about corruption and my view about this Editor’s constant, non-partisan and unequivocal approach to Sierra Leonean issues is confirmed. If we have 7 million Abdul Rashid Thomases as Sierra Leoneans rather than the majority huddling sheep, the Motherland will be a much better place.

      https://www.thesierraleonetelegraph.com/panama-corruption-papers-president-koroma-must-be-impeached-immediately/

      Alusine Fallay, just do the same. Trawl through the archives.

  4. Lets draw a quick line here in the sand for all to see: David francis, Sengeh et al were accused with proof of defrauding the procurement policy in order to syphon such huge amount of money – all in the name of traveling to do government work. That alone in itself is a corrupt act. So if you did something that is corrupt, is that not corruption? So, to you forumites who are defending this administration day in day out against a journalist who gave you all the proof to see, you should first of all know the point of accusation before you defend. Stop misinterpreting or misunderstanding the Africanist press report. It is really appalling to see folks who should have stood up and be counted in the fight against corruption for mama salone to be bought so cheap, just for partisan or regional politics.

    Of course, we all can agree that these two political parties have embarked on massive corruption in the country over their various years in governance. However,in politics, truth be told,election do have consequences. No wonder the previous government lost the election. So, the new sheriff in town should now be in charge of the country coffers and if anything goes wrong with that coffers, should be held accountable. And it’s never a crime to bring people to book for their corrupt practices. But now that they have flouted every aspect of the rule and regulations they promised to uphold, the very rules they they have held their counterpart’s hands to the fire for, they are now saying otherwise. Defenders of this administration were the same ones crying foul about the bad things of the previous Government. We even saw where the now Anti Corruption Commissioner called for a black monday million man’s match to downtown Freetown – just because of an increase in the dollar rate.

    Today,that very man is in charge of a whole comission,bestowed upon him to investigate the very previous government he had criticised through the “freedom of expression” tactics. That very man was also accused of involving in a scandal of $1.5m. To this day nothing has come out of it. And here we are now,when reality has finally settled in,with all the evidence we have been presented with,yet sympathizers are still blind to what everyone is seeing. This is my advice for those of you who come here just to have fun with some burning issues: There is nothing funny in jeopardizing the life of Sierra Leoneans. What is going on currently in Sierra Leone is serious business, and we ask that if you cannot help us hold people accountable for the wrong things that they do, just as we’ve been doing to the previous APC government, then $#@+ up. Pleease!!

  5. Deceitful and disgraceful rhetoric. What does this statement “One-Percent corruption is acceptable” means to you Mr Samuel Marconi Kamara? Do you believe that such a disgusting and silly rhetoric should be said by your Chief Minister? Would you class him as corrupt or not after hearing him utter such absurd and corrupt minded statement? Reply as quickly as you possibly can right here and right now Mr Samuel Marconi Kamara. Bottom line, your Chief Minister is damn corrupt. We shall hold them accountable when we kick them out of power in 2023. God bless Sierra Leone. What are they telling me? Yeah.

  6. “To err is human”. Human beings are liable to mistakes whether knowingly or not. Therefore, it is often very necessary to ask oneself if I don’t create error in life. The audit report to the public is a good and bad report. Perhaps, it is a good report for those who perceive its content as economic abuse of public funds and needed positive changes. Others see it as a bad report because they perceive it to have affected their office or personality. The best we could learn from the Bio administration is that his government is committed to the fight against corruption and has been putting measures in place.

    I can’t subscribe to the fact that the Chief Minister is corrupt because of an audit report. I can only believe that, after another report shows that the issues for which he was accused of is still failing to address it before the second audit is published. For now, I am with the strong conviction that my Chief Minister, Your Chief Minister, Our Chief Minister is not corrupt.

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