ACC Recovers Over Le35 Billion Stolen Public Funds

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) says over 35 Billion (Old) Leones (equivalent to USD 3 Million) of stolen public funds have been recovered over the past four years.

The ACC Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala told Beyond Borders in an exclusive interview that any president of Sierra Leone that would like to succeed must fight corruption.

Outlining the gains made by the anti-graft body in the fight against corruption from 2018 to date, the ACC’s Director of Public Education and External Outreach Patrick Sandi on 26 November at a retreat said the war against graft is in alignment with the Medium Term National Development Plan (MTNDP), and the New Direction Government’s Manifesto

Commitment No 18-Fighting Corruption and Improving Accountability. The ACC outlined as achievements the recovery of two Government vehicles, one two-storey hotel in Koidu City, the establishment of Integrity Management Committees in over 96 MDAs and ALL Local Councils, the over 90% conviction rate of cases charged to Court, the increased number of public officers who declared their income, assets and liabilities in 2020 and 2022, triggered by the amendment in 2019 to Section 119 of the Act of 2008, the rapid response, quick impact and precision raids by the Elite Scorpion Squad, and the development and operationalization of the Compliance Sanctions Manual Handbook for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

Sandi was speaking at a Retreat that took place at the Kenema City Council Hall from 25-27 November 2022. It attracted journalists from across the country, print, electronic and social media bloggers and civil society organizations nationwide.

The Retreat was officially opened by the Hon. Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, His Excellency, Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, in his keynote address, enumerated the New Direction Government’s remarkable achievements in the fields of Mobility and the fight against corruption, human capital development, health, electricity, ICT, access to information, media practice and many more.

In his PowerPoint presentation, Director Sandi stated that the ACC has achieved more than 90% in accomplishing the New Direction Government’s Manifesto commitment that relates to the fight f against corruption and improving accountability.

He furthered that, a good chunk of the Commitments had been achieved in the first three years of the New Direction administration. Speaking to specifics, Mr Sandi said in partnership with the Judiciary, a Special Anti-Corruption Division within the High Court of Sierra Leone was created in 2019, with specialized and dedicated Judges, to expeditiously try anti-corruption: matters charged to Court. This is Manifesto Commitment No 13. To ensure the effectiveness of the Division, the Department for International Development (DFID) now the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), funded and supported the setting up of two courtrooms and a well-equipped and staffed special anti-corruption registry in the law court building for anti-corruption matters only

Quite recently also, with support from the UK Sierra Leone Pro Bono Network, a Non-prosecution’ policy was presented to the ACC, and Sentencing Guidelines and Practice Direction on ACC matters were presented to the Hon. Chief Justice of the Judiciary of Sierra Leone, he added. All in the bid to improve and enhance the efficiency of the Special Anti-Corruption Division

On commitment of strong political leadership in the fight, Manifesto Commitment No 2, the ACC Director stated unequivocally that, at the highest political level, there is commitment and will in the fight against corruption.

The successes recorded in the fight in four years (2018-2022) are a testament to that commitment. On the Control of Corruption Indicator in the Millennium Challenge Corporation scorecard, Sierra Leone has Excellently passed back-to-back. She failed in 2017 with 49%, however, excellently passed in 2018-71%; 2019-79%, 2020-81%; 2021-83 and 2022-79% Sierra Leone has also jumped 15 places and now ranks 115 out of 185 countries surveyed on the Global Corruption Perception Index 2021, from 130 in 2017. Also, Sierra Leone is 3rd out of 35 countries in Africa on Government effectiveness in fighting corruption, according to the Global Afro-Barometer 2019, Mr Sandi noted.

In providing support to Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to enhance their capacity to prepare appropriate shadow reports on issues of transparency and corruption, Manifesto Commitment 9, the Public Education and Outreach Director, ACC, underscored that the ACC accomplishing this, has signed Memoranda of Understanding with 27 CSOs, and forged partnerships with 50 organizations (mostly youth groups) most of which receive support from the ACC through partnership implementation, resources, training and capacity enhancement to support their anti-corruption efforts.

On the commitment of developing value systems and implementing a robust merit and reward system in public and private life, Manifesto Commitment 4, Mr Sandi stated that the ACC gives integrity awards to deserving persons/institutions, and also gives public recognition to the most and fully compliant institutions to systems review recommendations of the Corruption Prevention Department and the National Anti- Corruption Strategy (2019-2023) Implementation Action Plan.

To ensure the full implementation of all recommendations in annual audits of the Audit Service Sierra Leone and Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Commitment 6, Director Sandi informed CSOS and media organizations that the ACC has worked and continues to work with the Financial Secretary in the

Ministry of Finance on this, and that a system has been developed whereby access to budget allocations by MDAS will happen through their clear plans of response to audit recommendations. He also stated that a Task Force has been established, comprising, Audit Service and ACC to ensure information sharing, but more importantly, also, a renewed Memorandum of Understanding with ASSL has been signed in October 2022, with a special provision ensuring that ACC would be called upon by ASSL, to intervene into audit issues as early as possible.

Director Sandi reiterated the commitment of the leadership of the ACC and the staff of their unflinching determination to sustain and improve on the gains made in the fight against corruption so far, despite the challenges.

“Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala Esq. and his Team will continue to do well for Sierra Leone if the support environment continues to exist. Commissioner Kaifala’s exemplary leadership and efforts in controlling corruption in Sierra Leone have brought countless laurels to the country. ACC has played host to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, Ugandan ACC, a team from Banjul, the Gambia, and Guinea who came on study visits”, he asserted.

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This year’s Annual CSOs and Media Retreat were organized by the Ministry of Information and Communications on the theme: ‘consolidating democracy: our collective, shared and patriotic responsibility It was a platform provided for the media and CSOS after Presentations by Representatives of the MDAs, to interrogate and review the work and performances of key MDAS in meeting to their mandates, and the Government’s commitments and priorities as aligned with the Medium Term National Development Plan.

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