It was in May 2020, when President Bio appointed Paul Sobba Massaquoi as Executive Director of the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration (SLMA). He happens to be the third person to that enviable position within two years, replacing Ken Philip Sondai.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on 31st May 2021, filed an indictment against Paul Sobba Massaquoi together with some senior officials at the SLMA on Five (5) count charge corruption offenses including Conspiracy to Commit a Corruption offense, contrary to section 128(1)(a); Failure to Comply with Applicable Procedures and Guidelines, contrary to Section 48(2)(b); and Abuse of Office contrary to section 42(1) and Knowingly misleading the Commission, contrary to Section 127(1)(b) of the Anti-Corruption Commission Act No.9 of 2019, respectively.
Whilst waiting judgement, the ACC has further unearthed another massive corruption activities contained in the Auditor General’s Report for the year 2020.
The ACC in its update of the actions and steps it has taken to address critical issues raised in the Audit Reports of Sierra Leone 2019 and 2020 stated thus “the 2020 Auditor General’s Report alleged that on diverse dates between January 2019 and December 2020 SLMA failed to pay into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) the total sum of Eight Hundred and Eighty-eight thousand, thirty-five United States Dollars and twenty-six Cent (USD$888,035.26).
ACC upon concluding its investigation discovered that; the amount of Eight Hundred and Seventy-two Thousand, Three Hundred and Forty-Nine United States Dollars and Sixty-seven cents (USD$872,349.67) which was allegedly used to purchase Maritime items/equipment is owed to the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) by the ship Registration Limited/SLMARAD.
It was discovered that the then Executive Director single-handedly decided to utilize the 3rd party money owed to the Government without the approval of the line Ministry, Board of Directors of SLMA and Ministry of Finance. “The ACC has therefore asked him to refund the said USD$872,349.67,” the Commission has furthered that “With regards the Fifteen Thousand, Six Hundred and Eighty-Five United States Dollars and Fifty-Nine Cents (USD$15,685.59) highlighted in the Audit Report as outstanding payment to be made by SLMARAD, the ACC asked that the payment is effected and evidence of payment be requested.”
The ACC has recommended that the agreement between SLMARAD and the government and SLMA is revisited and go through the Ministry of Justice Cabinet, and/or Parliament for ratification.
“The parties to the contract representing GoSL should be hiring External Auditors to audit the activities of SLMARAD every six months to ascertain detail sales, government shares, number and details of registered vessels, certified seafarers, technical statistics, legal and operational overview,” the Commission concludes.