Dr. Sarah Bendu continues to testify in corruption matter


February 4, 2021

By Regina Pratt

Former Executive Director of the Serra Leone Roads Safety Authority (SLRSA) who also served as Executive Director, Sierra Leone Maritime Administration,Dr. Sarah Bendu, on Tuesday took the witness box as 1st defense witness in continuation of her testimony.

She told the court that she had asked the procurement committee to negotiate for a reduction on the cost of  invoice  for the procurement of  tow trucks and holographic windshield labels.

Led in evidence by defense counsel, M. S. Bangura, Dr. Bendu said the amount written on the invoice was higher than the actually paid amount.

She reiterated that when the procurement committee brought the invoice for Centrum and KABS Clearing and Forwarding Agency,she asked the committee to negotiate for a reduction on the invoice cost.

“The invoice finally submitted was a reduced price invoice which the authority acted on. I did not personally engage the clearing and forwarding agency for a reduced cost,” she testified..

The witness, however, testified that in exhibit C1 there was no supporting document for the transfer of the funds,which  she had requested for from the day of the investigation at the ACC, but that there were supporting documents when the transaction was approved.

Dr. Bendu further testified that the director of finance is the custodian of all financial documents, noting that she was not at SLRSA at the time of the ACC investigations.

“All these documents attached to exhibits F1 are documents shown to ensure that the procurement and valuation committee met and made their recommendation to management that Centrum was the most responsive agency,” she testified.

Under cross examination by ACC prosecutor, lawyer Mantesbo, the witness said they had the technical aid of the procurement officer who comes in to advise.

She said despite she was the ‘A’ signatory, there was also another ‘A’ signatory, the deputy executive director, who can sign in her absence.

The accused persons were alleged to have defrauded the state by inflating customs duties and payments for related services, and used the bank accounts of Centrum and KABS Clearing and Forwarding Agencies to launder the cash, in the guise of clearing tow trucks and holographic windshield labels.

The three were charged with various counts of misappropriation of public funds, conspiracy to commit a corruption offence, failure to comply with applicable procedures and guidelines relating to the tendering of contracts and failure to comply with the applicable procedures and guidelines relating to the management of public funds, contrary to Section 48(2)(b) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008, respectively.