February 10, 2021
By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
The Anti-Corruption Commission has yesterday stated in a press release that they have commenced investigations into the disbursement of billions of public funds to the Office of the First Lady.
“The Commission wishes the public to be know that it had commenced full and comprehensive probe into the Office of the First Lady, past and present, dealing with matters of budgetary justifications for allocations and expenditures of State funds to that entity and the legal and regulatory framework, if any, for them,” the release said.
According to the ACC, preliminary findings showed that the Office of First Lady had been receiving Billions of Leones of State funds yearly, spanning 14 years to date and most of the payments were either directly made to the holders of that office or channeled, through the Presidency, as normal presidential official expenditure signed-off on by respective Secretaries to the President.
“We are similarly reviewing Section 39 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 which gives the State authority to expend State funds to unallocated Head(s) of expenditure to a certain threshold to “necessary” public cause(s), and whether such threshold was used and or breached in making payments such as the ones under review, over the years.”
The ACC stated that they were at the stage of collecting and analysing records of accounts, official approval documents and any legal or regulatory framework around such payments.
They further stated that they will also interview persons of interest in that regard, where necessary and that they shall keep the public fully informed on their findings, conclusions and next steps.