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Witness admits conspiring with accused to deceive Works Ministry

October 15, 2019

By Regina Pratt

The 4th and final prosecution witness, Hassan Karim, who testified in a corruption matter involving the former Deputy Minister of Works, Housing and Infrastructure, yesterday told the court that the latter, Abdulai Barrie, had asked him to pose as though he was the owner of Ribar Enterprise during the award of contracts to refurbish the Bo Governors Lodge and the Spur View Estate.

He made the above statement before High Court No. 1 presided over by Justice Reginald Fynn.

Led in evidence by  Counsel for the Anti-Corruption, Sarrifou Halston, the witness said he was a Manager at the Hotel Capital in Lungi, but when he lost the job he met the accused ‘for help’ in June 2015.

He said the accused involved him into a budget preparation on behalf of Ribar Enterprise and told him to act though he was the owner of the Enterprise.

“I was asked by the accused to bid on behalf of Ribar Enterprise for the refurbishment of the VIP Lodge”, he said, adding that the accused agreed to give him a kickback of 30% of the profit.

He told the court that he agreed and after the bidding process he submitted the documents to the Minister of Works.

The witness said that the contract was signed by the accused on behalf of the ministry and he signed on behalf of Ribar Enterprises.

The witness said he did all the ground works as instructed by the accused and within that year the first payment of over five hundred million Leones was made and the accused only gave him twenty-one million Leones.

He told the court that in 2017, the accused received another payment of over nine hundred million Leones (Le900,000,000) and at that time the accused gave him Le10 million, but took a photograph of the cheque and returned it to the accused, thus informing him that if didn’t get what due him, he would report the matter to ACC.

Meanwhile, counsel for the accused, I.S. Yillah during cross examination asked the witness if he was on salary with the ministry, but he replied in the negative, adding that the agreement never called for that.

However, the defense counsel informed the court that he would make a no-case submission on the remaining counts as the accused has pleaded guilty on failure to disclose to the committee members in writing a direct and personal interest.

The ACC on Monday, 3rd December 2018, indicted Abdulai Barrie, former Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Works, Housing and Infrastructure on 4 corruption related charges but the accused only pleaded guilty to one.

According to the particulars of offence, Abdulai Barrie, on or about the 23rd June 2015, used his office to improperly award contracts for the supply and installation of hard furniture at Bo Governors Lodge to Ribar Enterprise and Spur View Estate amounting to One Billion, Eight Hundred and Eleven Million, One Hundred and Seventy Six Thousand, Nine Hundred Leones (Le 1,811,176,900), and that the accused was the principal signatory to accounts into which payments were made.

He also knowingly misled the ACC by stating that he never made a payment in the sum of 21 million Leones from the Rokel Commercial Bank operated by Ribar Enterprise to one Hassan Karim, knowing same to be untrue and the accused had also denied having access to account No 02-01135495301holding at the Rokel Commercial Bank operated by Ribar Enterprise knowing same to be untrue.

The matter was adjourned to Wednesday November 20, 2019 when prosecution and defence will address the court.