Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on Tuesday 7 March 2023 disclosed that they have recovered over Le2 billion from defaulting Ministries Department and Agencies (MDAs) on issues raised in the Auditor General’s Report of 2021.

The ACC in its 4th Serialized Media Release provides updates on actions they have taken so far on issues raised in the Auditor General’s Report of 2021.

According to ACC, these interventions focused on aspects of possible or alleged corruption and conduct inconsistent with the provision(s) in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019.

After a thorough review, and analysis of the aforementioned Report, the Commission initiated actions; to investigate, prosecute, or recover public funds, public revenue, and public property, as may be necessary, by Sections 7, and 48 of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019, respectively.

Below is the fourth serial release containing issues, and areas of ACC interventions, and the outcomes of same:

As of today’s date, the Commission has recovered Public Resources in the total sum of Two Billion, Thirty-Six Million, Six Hundred and Sixty-Five Thousand, Six Hundred and Seven (Old) Leones, and Six (Old) Cents (Le2,036,665,607.6).

1. MINISTRY OF WATER RESOURCES (MWR). The Auditor-General’s Report of 2021 highlighted that the Ministry of Water Resources did not pay Withholding Taxes (WHT), amounting to Forty Million, Four Hundred and One Thousand, Three Hundred and Sixty-Five (Old) Leones (Le 40,401, 365), to the National Revenue Authority (NRA), as the said funds were not deducted from payments made to suppliers in 2019 to 2020.

The ACC investigation has established the following;

The Ministry of Water Resources owed NRA Withholding Taxes amounting to Forty Million, Four Hundred and One Thousand, Three Hundred and Sixty-Five (Old) Leones (Le 40,401, 365) for 2019 and 2020.

The Ministry only paid Thirty-Two Million, Three Hundred Thousand, Eight Hundred and Forty (Old) Leones (Le 32,300,840) to NRA in favor of the 5.5% Withholding Tax for 2019.

The Ministry sent a letter to the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) instructing the Bank to pay some funds into the NRA Account.

The Ministry further informed the ACC that they are currently constrained with funds.

The Ministry promised to pay the balance amount of WHT to NRA after BSL has paid them.

In that regard, the ACC has instructed the Ministry of Water Resources to pay the balance of Eight Million, One Hundred Thousand, Five Hundred and Twenty Five (Old) Leones (Le8, 100,525) being WHT into the NRA Account.

On the payment of the balance money to the NRA, with proof of payment confirmed, the matter will be accordingly recommended for closure.

2. NATIONAL CONSERVATION TRUST FUND. The 2021 Auditor General’s Report further highlighted that total allowances of Seventy-Two Million, Nine Hundred Thousand (Old) Leones (Le72,900,000) were paid to Board Members in 2017, as the Board of Trustee’s activities. The report also said the basis for the payment of such allowances was not provided for audit. Additionally, evidence in the form of minutes of meetings and a list of members to justify that an audit Sub-Committee of the Board was established during the period under review, was not submitted for audit. The Audit, therefore, recommended that the Executive Chairman and the Board of Trustees ensure the following: (i) that the basis for the payment of the total allowance of Seventy-Two Million, Nine Hundred Thousand (Old) Leones (Le72,900,000) is submitted to the Audit Service. (ii) The minutes of meetings and a list of members to justify the establishment of the Board Sub-committee are also submitted to the Audit Service for verification.

The ACC investigation has established the following;

That the Accountant of the National Conservation Trust was part of the Audit exercise of 2021.

That the aforementioned matter was raised in the Management letter from the Auditors for the attention of the Trust.

That all the payment vouchers together with waste cheques were made available to the Auditors for their verification before the exit engagement.

That record of same is now in the custody of the Commission, which however has the amount contained in the Audit Report as Seventy Two Million, Nine Hundred Thousand (Old) Leones (Le72,900,000), whilst the test of control conducted by the ACC shows an amount of Seventy-Five Million, Five Hundred Thousand (Old) Leones (Le 75,500,000).

That two members of the Board of Trustees confirmed receiving sitting fees for the period 2017 and their signatures on the payment vouchers shown to them.

Documents that were queried by the Audit Report are now with the ACC, but since the two Board Members of the Trust have confirmed receipt, the file has been recommended for closure. Meanwhile, the Commission has instructed the National Conservation Trust Fund for administrative measures to be taken against the individual who was in the custody of the documents but failed to make them available to the Audit Service Sierra Leone.

3. KARENE DISTRICT COUNCIL The Audit Report of 2021 further revealed that; the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) contributions for staff of the Council were not deducted and paid, amounting to Six Million, One Hundred and Fifty-Six Thousand (Old) Leones (Le6,156,000). Moreover, the Audit Report indicated that there was no performance or supply as per contract, regarding a payment made for Sign Board that was not erected, amounting to Three Million (Old) Leones (Le3, 000, 000).

The ACC investigation has confirmed the following;

That the Finance Officer of Karene District Council submitted receipts in respect of NASSIT payment on behalf of the staff and these are being verified.

The pictures of a signboard erected have been presented to the ACC, which are yet to be verified.

The ACC would have to verify all the receipts presented regarding NASSIT payments, verify the sign board erected, and accordingly advise on the matters.

4. CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY UNIT (CISU). It was also highlighted in the Audit Report of 2021 that; one staff working at Central Intelligence and Security Unit ( CISU ) was on study leave during the period 2020 and continued to receive a salary that is contrary to Section 10.17. 5 of the Terms and Conditions of Service of CISU. The Audit Report furthered that the amount paid to the said staff amounted to the sum of Fifteen Million. Six Hundred and Forty Thousand, Eight Hundred and Seventy-Six Thousand (Old) Leones (Le15,640,876.00) for the period September to December 2020.

The ACC investigation established that;

The said staff Pin Code No is 600605.

Documents produced to the Commission and verified indicate that the said staff has refunded the said money through salary deductions from the source.

Meanwhile, the ACC has accordingly recommended closure, since the matter has been resolved.

The Commission shall continue to promptly update the public through its Media Releases on interventions regarding the Auditor General’s Reports of Sierra Leone.

In the spirit of partnership and collaboration, the ACC continues to thank and appreciate Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) for their diligence and commitment to curbing corruption in Sierra Leone and Parliament for their sustained and unwavering support.”