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In US$800,000 fraud:

Deputy Info. Minister ‘disowns signature’

January 14, 2016 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara

Deputy Minister of Information and Communications, Theo Nicol, yesterday dissociated himself from an unsigned Memorandum of Understanding and a letter purportedly signed by him to give his ministry’s approval to the liberalisation of the international telecommunication gateway.

Mr. Nicol was testifying in the ongoing US$800,000 fraud allegedly committed by one Mohamed Osman Sesay and Dennis Jones, a journalist working for the Sierra Express Media.

The two men were dragged to court by the country’s anti-graft body on one count of conspiracy to commit a corruption offence contrary to section 128(1), and seven counts of deceiving a principal contrary to section 40(3) of the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008.

The duo, according to ACC prosecutor Ade Macauley, allegedly conspired to deceive one Dominic Anselm Joseph Beary, Director of Network Proximity Sierra Leone limited, to pay various monies purportedly as fees for international gateway license and for other purposes, totaling US$800,000. The ACC also alleges that the accused persons served various letters to Beary, allegedly signed by the Minister of Information and his deputy.

Justice Miatta Samba, presiding at the Freetown High Court, late last year granted a massive bail condition of Le4.5 billion to Sesay, but has failed to grant bail to Jones who was a fugitive until he was arrested last November.

Led in evidence by Macauley, Mr. Nicol told the court that he came to know the first accused (Sesay) in late 2013 when he went to his office and introduced himself as Mohamed Sesay.

“The accused told me that he was representing a company that was interested in the gateway of the country and that I should facilitate a meeting between his company and the president,” the deputy minister testified.

He said he gave direction to the accused on how to meet with the president and gave him his complementary card, adding that the accused called on several occasions to fix a meeting with him but he refused.

“We met some other time and the conversation was based on the company’s interest in the gateway process but I told him to wait for it to be liberalised by the National Telecommunication Commission,” he told the crowded court.

The witness, however, identified Exhibit N1-4 (a letter allegedly signed by him and an MoU) with a government letterhead. He told the court that he only saw the document at the time the ACC came to his office and asked whether it came from his ministry.

Nicol said his name was not spelled correctly and that the stamp was not authorised by his ministry.

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