ACC Public Relations Office: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 29 December 2020:
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), in this 6th media release, wishes to update the general public of the actions and steps it has taken to address critical issues raised in Audit Reports of Sierra Leone, 2015-2018. These interventions focused on aspects of possible, or alleged corruption, and conduct inconsistent with the provision(s) in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008.
After thorough reviews, and analysis of the aforementioned reports, a total of twenty-one (21) issues attracted the attention of the Commission for the purposes of investigating, prosecuting, or recovering public funds, public revenue, public property, as the case maybe; in accordance with Sections 7, and 48 of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019, respectively.
The ACC has charged two (2) matters to court. Additionally, there are thirteen (13) ongoing active investigations. Two (2) matters have been accordingly closed for lack of evidence.
In terms of recoveries returned to the State, the Commission has recuperated a total sum of Two Billion, Seven Hundred And Forty-Two Million, One Hundred And Eighty-Five Thousand, Three Hundred and Four Leones, and Sixty-One Cents (Le2, 742, 185, 304. 61) from cases and issues arising from audits.
Apart from investigating, prosecuting, and recovering government resources, we also make systemic interventions in line with Section 7 (2) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as Amended in 2019, which mandates the Prevention Department to examine the practices and procedures of public bodies, advise on changes in practices or procedures with a view to limiting the opportunities of corruption through the identification of structural vulnerabilities and develop best practices accordingly.
In this release, the focus is to bring the public to speed, on our systems interventions, through comprehensive systems and processes review, of the public institutions named in the Audit Report, 2018.
This department also develops and implements public policies and ethical procedures for government ministries, departments and agencies, and improves input into the formulation and implementation of anti-corruption policies in both private and public sectors for the removal of barriers in private sector growth. For the purposes of thorough systems review, the institutions are divided into three broad categories: MDAs, Public Enterprises (PEs), and Local Councils (LCs).
After thorough review of the systemic and ethical issues inherent in MDAs, PEs, and LCs, as contained in the said audit report, the Prevention Department has identified forty-four (44) issues for systemic reviews, especially government loss of revenue allocated as follows: MDAs lost Fifty Six Billion Leones (Le56bn); PEs lost Sixty Six Billion Leones (Le66bn), and LCs lost Eighteen Billion Leones (Le18bn), amounting to a total loss of One Hundred and Forty Billion Leones (Le140bn).
Based on our interventions, the Commission identified, and attributed government loss of revenue, and other resources, based on Audit Report 2018, to the following governance issues: (a) Unsupported payments; (b) Revenue not banked; (c) Irregularities in payments of salaries to staff; (d) Statutory deductions not paid to the appropriate authorities; (e) Irregularities in payment of DSAs and other allowances; (f) Unexplained expenditure, payments without approval and expenditure returns not submitted; (g) Fuel not accounted for; (h) Revenues not paid into Consolidated Fund; (i) Imprest not retired; (j) Stores and fixed assets irregularities; (k) Revenue arrears; (i) Over expenditure budget lines; and (m) Payment of sitting fees and other allowances to absentee councillors.
In this release, the Commission focuses on the following two MDAs: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MFAIC), and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) in respect of our systems and process review interventions, which clearly showed that procurement irregularities ran across nearly all the affected institutions.
1. MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION (MFAIC)
a) The Audit Report alleged that there is lack of proper paperwork to support the payments, and use of fuel by the MFIC for three consecutive years, commencing from 2016, 2017, and 2018. Equally, the MFAIC could also not account for certain quantity of fuel. ACC systems interventions, through the Prevention Department, uncovered that in 2016, MFAIC could not account for fuel amounting to Le540m, Le617m in 2017, and Le826m in 2018.
Whilst the Commission has started criminal investigations, the Prevention Department in the next quarter shall engage in systems and processes review of the management and distribution of fuel with a view to producing a best practice working guide on the management and consumption of fuel for the MFAIC.
b). ACC systems intervention also show that some staff of the MFAIC has over a period of three consecutive years, withdrawn, millions of Leones without the relevant supporting documents, and a clear purpose. In 2016, Le118m was withdrawn without the adequate supporting documents. In 2017, Le579m, and in 2018, Le533m were also withdrawn without supporting documents.
The Commission had instituted ongoing criminal investigations. Nonetheless, the Prevention Department, in the next quarter, will undertake systems and processes interventions to promote a prudent management of finances of the MFAIC.
c). ACC systems intervention also unravelled that the MFAIC made payments to various entities in 2016, 2017 and 2018 not supported by required documentations amounting to billions of Leones. In 2016, Le3.7bn, in 2017, Le347m, and in 2018, Le2.7bn (2018)
d) The report also exposed the fact that in 2018, the MFAIC paid out a total amount of Le428m to staff as travelling expenses and allowances for staff of the ministry. There are no supporting documents for such payment. Whilst the ACC has commenced criminal investigations and the many of the staff concerned are making refunds to the state in settlement, Prevention Department will undertake systems review on the payment of such allowances with a view to provide best practice guide.
e). The Audit report also exposed that statutory deductions were not paid to the appropriate authorities. The records show that the MFAIC deducted, and held as withholding taxes, monies amounting to Le246.8m for certain payments as required by law, but there is no evidence of such payments made by staff of the MFAIC to National Revenue Authority (NRA). The ACC had commenced investigations on this matter.
Additionally, the ACC had drawn the attention of the NRA to such activities. The Prevention Department of the ACC shall work with the NRA to put measures in place with a view to preventing a re-occurrence of such anomaly.
f). The audit report also uncovered that payments of education allowances for children above 18 years were wrongly undertaken; and in certain cases, no evidence of the children in personnel file. Through this illegal scheme, government lost a total amount of $81,850.
The ACC had investigated this issue and decided to settle out of court and ordered those responsible to pay back in full. Equally, the Prevention Department will continue to monitor the payment of such allowances to prevent any form of corruption in the process of such payments.
f). The auditors also discovered overpayment of Per diem for sponsored trips in the form of irregularities in payment of DSAs and other allowances amounting to Le59.8m.
2. MINISTRY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT (MLGRD)
a). The audit report discovered procurement irregularities as the MLGRD was deliberately splitting procurement resulting to the use of RFQ, with a total value of Le211.4m involved. The ACC has commenced criminal investigations into the matter.
b). The report also exposed that the MLGRD has not been properly retiring Special imprest as required by law. In this regard, it was discovered that out of a total of Le681m, there is outstanding amount of Le479m. The report also showed that out of Le1.4bn withdrawn from imprest account, the Ministry could not account for Le351m. Also, the sum of Le1.3bn disbursed to provincial secretaries for the coordination of presidential visits could not be accounted for.
In this respect, The Commission has commenced investigations, and the Prevention Department will undertake systems review with a view to putting structures in place to enhance efficient and prudent financial management systems.
c). The ministry bought computers and carpet for Deputy Minister and Deputy secretaries but not all of the items were presented for verification. 2 desktop computers costing Le16m and 16-yard carpet costing Le11m were missing. Stores and fixed assets irregularities amounted to Le27m.
d). The auditors also discovered irregularities in payment of DSAs. Between August and September 2015, the ministry embarked on provincial monitoring activities. But most of those who were paid DSAs were also found to have signed attendance registers in Freetown for the days they had received DSAs causing government to lose up to Le.100M.
e). The audit report also uncovered that between 2015 and 2017 the Ministry withdrew Le134m from imprest account and also Le116m from Government micro account; but could only account for the latter activity which amounted to Le134m, and not the Le116M.
The Commission shall continue collaborating with Audit Service Sierra Leone, the Parliament of Sierra Leone, especially the Public Accounts Committee, and other accountability institutions to investigate, review and clarify issues raised in all concluded audit reports and to promptly update the public through media releases on interventions the ACC has made with regard Audit Reports of 2015-2018, and the recently released Audit Reports of 2019.
Meanwhile, the ACC wishes to reassure the general public of its determination and commitment to protecting public property and revenue at all times.
For further enquiries on this and other ACC matters, please contact MORIS IBRAHIM KANTEH, Assistant Public Relations Officer, on +232-78-832131 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
The year of Covid 19 has finally come to an end and nothing sustainable has been achieved by the barren hands of the Criminal SLPP Cabal – absolutely nothing. We give thanks that our fragile nation has not trembled or crumbled into dust and ashes but is still in one piece despite the tireless efforts of SLPP henchmen to stoke fires of anger, tribalism, hatred and marginalization. The usual suspects and scapegoats that were routinely harassed, are still as robust and alive as frolicking young impalas. Long live our Sierra Leone and Long live the unfading, legendary APC.(lol)
Indeed what has ACC achieved ? Some would say hardly anything. The major achievement of ACC is becoming experts in rhetoric; they waffle so much that the unaware may think that they have been doing such superfluous work that they are in line to enter The Guinness Book of Records, where they shall remain for eternity. Each time the communication unit of ACC put out a message one can almost tell word what’s coming – they have become that predictable. They assure the public that they are on top of things when in fact they are suffocating underneath them.
They charge people to court who have no names, and we don’t hear of any convictions. They recover 2 billion Leones out hundreds of billions that went missing. We never hear of recommendations for the dismissal of anybody whose government department is at the centre of disappeared billions. When members of the Executive are caught on the spot committing corruption ACC are drained completely of blood. In other words they die, only to miraculously regain life after the storm has dissipated, whereupon they will go after a lowly traffic police officer who has taken a few Leones from a taxi driver. You chase the weak and helpless and make a lot of noise about it -seems to be ACC’s mode of operation.
But one has to spare a thought for the hapless Ben Kelfala. He is in a damned if you do and you don’t predicament most of the time, mercilessly in the middle of powerful forces whose centrifugal force keep him in place all the time. It is this force which Ernest Koroma’s first ACC boss, Tejan Cole, quickly detected and tendered his resignation; he was not about to be kicked around by a fool who wanted him only to pursue the weak in society. Subsequent ACC bosses like Joseph Kamara had no standards – professional or otherwise – to stand up to Ernest.
Based on my limited experience in politics, the just concluded COI and the current investigations were conducted against “Person’s of interest” which includes politicians, civil servants from different MDA who are professionals and apolitical and even private companies and citizens. The politicians investigated were from both the past APC government and the current SLPP government and some MDA officials. The duty of our ACC boss is to investigate any allegation of corruption against any citizen including past APC government officials like the lifetime chairman of the APC and even the current Chief Minister, former Minister of Education and even an official working for the president whose confession at a Nigerian church drew some controversy.
The international community has respect for our Anti corruption boss based on the fact that his ratings of 81% and our nation is on the verge of receiving $400 million from the MCC which will hopefully develop our water and electricity sectors for the benefit of all Sierra Leoneans.
Although 2020 was very challenging for the new direction government because the destructive APC party was involved in all types of threats and violence due to the COI, but the government has succeeded in quelling all forms of riots orchestrated by the APC.
Finally, the current challenge our government is facing is to continue saving lives and livelihoods during this pandemic which hopefully will be won by 2021. May the Almighty continue to bless our AC commissioner with wisdom and understanding to perform his constitutional duties of investigating all forms of corruption and let us continue to hope and pray that members of the destructive APC party will respect his verdicts.
Not really sure what publicity stunt the ACC is trying to accomplish here. Reading through the entire press release, all one can extract is the same information that we already know—corruption being endemic in our nation and continues to be the case even within the current regime. Out of the 140 billion Leones reported missing in the 2018 audit report, a mere 2.7billion Leones is being announced as recovered with no idea of knowing who the culprits are. Also, an institution which on numerous occasions has proven capable to move with blinding speed while investigating matters of corruption, especially so when opposition figures are involved, appears to have lost steam, with symptoms of sluggishness and lack of direction.
Within weeks of the chief minister releasing the GTT report, alleging widespread corruption in the previous EBK regime spanning 10yrs, the ACC was able to move with blinding speed, publicly naming and reporting monies being recovered like never before. Why the obvious snail-pace investigations into the 2018 audit report now? With the recently announced 2019 audit report adding to their workload with a revelation of record corruption like never before, can Mr. Ben Kelfala muster the courage and temerity to expose the current criminal cabals who happen to be his bosses?
As we wave goodbye to 2020, and welcome a new year 2021, you can’t help but notice the two aspects that have dominated our political discussion throughout 2020 – corruption and insecurity in Sierra Leone. These two conditions and their impact on our country’s development, are mutually interconnected. Basically, what that means is you cannot have one without the other. Corruption creates injustice, the Makeni killings, Pademba Road, Dr. Blyden, Major Paolo Conteh etc.
Also corruption undermines development, creates unemployment, affects the way businesses are conducted, less government tax receipts, shutting the door to local and foreign direct investment and guaranteeing the country’s pariah status as not a business friendly country. You cannot put your trust in the political leadership, to implement agreements they made with international financial institutions, like the IMF and ADB. And under Bio, we have seen how corruption have acquired a life of its own. More like a dragon that is hard to slay.
You just have to look at Buhari’s efforts in fighting corruption in Nigeria, which in their panel code is called 419, and see how his government is engaged in fighting corruption and compare that to our own president. Bio has a massive shortage of credibility problems. No one trusts him anymore. That is why corruption under him has reached new heights in Sierra Leone. Even his own ministers do not believe him, when he says he is ready to fight corruption for the little man and woman in Sierra Leone.
I stand to be corrected, but the reality is government debt or audit is continuity. What ever money the past government misappropriated or borrowed from international institutions or countries will be a burden on the current government. The total amount of missing monies for the 2019 Audit report is cumulative amount from 2015-2019. There is no APC or SLPP debts or missing funds but the government of Sierra Leone.
Let’s continue to follow the process and procedures of the Audit report, parliamentary and ACC rather than propaganda.