How Auditor Uncovered Entrenched Corruption at Freetown City Council
▪️ 1 Project Vehicle and 61 tricycles missing
▪️ 91 Ghost Workers on Payroll
▪️ Funding of Overseas trip for Non Council Staff
The Freetown City Council (FCC), under the watch of Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, has been characterized with an entrenched corruption that has brought a lot of embarrassment to the leadership of the council.
Concord Times reports that The mayor has been invited by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Public Account Committee (PAC) of Parliament to answer to queries raised in the 2019 Auditor Gneral’s Report, which had catalogued a range of malfeasance taking place at the council under her watchful eyes.
The 2019 Audit Report revealed how the council under the watch of the current mayor was paying salaries to ghost staff to the tune of Le39,115,544, an action they said brought tremendous financial burden on the council.
“Monthly salaries which amounted to Le39,115,544 were paid to eight staff that had either resigned, died or retired on diverse dates without any justification. Salaries might have been paid to ineligible staff resulting in loss of Council’s much needed resources,” the report reveals.
After uncovering that bad state of affairs in the council, auditors recommended that the names of 91 of those former staff be removed from the payroll voucher and monies paid recovered and paid back into the council’s bank account.
Auditors also uncovered uncompetitive recruitment and missing records in staff files during the 2019 audit with 92 individuals fraudulently recruited as staff of the council.
“We noted that 92 individuals were recruited as employees of the Council. It alleged that these individuals has served the Council for a couple of years as volunteers. There was however no evidence to support this
claim. The recruitment may not have been inclusive, fair and transparent. We also observed that the Council did not do background check on most staff appointed in 2019. There was no evidence that service Oath of Secrecy and job descriptions was communicated to all staff,” the report reveals.
Additionally, according to auditors, “upon review of a sample of 70 staff personal files, we observed that complete details of staff were not filed. For instance, five files did not have application letters, one was without appointment letters, and 22 were without academic certificates, probationary reports.”
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The council, under the watch of Mayor Aki-Sawyerr was caught neck-deep in corruption, using tax payer’s money to fund overseas trip for individuals that are not council staff.
“During 2019, the Council made total payments Le200,942,333 for air tickets and per-diems to individuals that were not staff of the Council. Additionally, back-to-office reports and evidence of transfer of knowledge to Council staff regarding the travels undertaken were not submitted for audit inspection. Above all, since this transaction was not budgeted for by the Council and without the appropriate approval, we deemed it as an ineligible expense.”
According to auditors, payments totaling Le2,973,591,070 were without adequate supporting documents such as delivery notes, invoices, receipts, back-to-office report and beneficiaries lists to properly account for the payments.
“The situation could have undermine
effective controls and lead to payment for goods and services not delivered and misappropriation of Public Funds.”
While reviewing bank statements and expense ledgers, auditors uncovered that a whooping sum of Le620,665,772 as payment for various expenses without payment vouchers.
“In addition, supporting documents for these payments were also not submitted for audit inspection. The situation could undermine effective controls and lead to payment for good and services not delivered and misappropriation of public funds.”
Auditors further uncovered that council couldn’t confirm 14 out of 18 banks balances which amounted to Le98,786,050.
“Additionally, the eight banks submitted bank confirmations for balances totaling Le1,843,171,442.46 which were initially not confirmed, but they were in the books of the Council as at 31st December, 2019,”
Auditors noted that a comprehensive Fixed Assets Register (FAR) which contains records of assets purchased, owned and controlled by the Council was not submitted for audit inspection. “It was strange to note that the Council did not have custody of title documents for one project vehicle and 61 tricycles brought with funds donated to the Council by the EU”