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Massive corruption unearth at Immigration Department

January 10, 2020

By Jariatu S. Bangura

The 2018 Auditor General’s report has revealed that payments amounting to the Immigration Department amounting to Le212, 939, 033.00 and Le28, 088,060.00 in 2017 and 2018 respectively were not traced into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

“We therefore recommended that the NRA officer should provide documentary evidence to confirm that the said amount was paid into the CF, otherwise, the amount should be refunded. The Commissioner responded that there are very strong controls for recording of revenue collected. First of all, every transaction is supported by an order-to-pay. Secondly, payment details of transaction paid into designated bank account and further in the cashbook. See evidence of the Le28, 088,060 for 2018.”

He said work was currently underway at the Bank of Sierra Leone to locate similar cheque not reflecting in the 2017 data base.

Auditors stated that their recommendation was not implemented as evidence of banking was not submitted for verification and that the issue remains unresolved.

“A comparison between the staff list as at the start of 2017, the staff list as at the end of 2018, and the payroll during 2017/2018, reveals that 16 staff were on the staff list at the start of the audit year, and were also paid a total gross salary of Le118, 048,143.00 during 2017/2018, but their salaries were withheld pathway during the period 2017/2018.”

Auditors said their names were also removed from the staff list at the end of 2018.

“However, their personnel files were not presented for audit inspection, and we were unable to confirm whether salaries were not continued to be paid to individuals who have left the Department, and whether the Accountant General’s Department had complied with Regulation 12.1 of the Civil Service Code, Regulations and Rules, and whether Section 112 (2) and 115 (1) of the Public Financial Management Regulations were complied with.”

In addition, they said the payrolls during the period were compared with the staff list at the end of 2018.

“The comparison reveals that 29 individuals were paid a total gross salary of Le528, 567,854.00 during 2017/2018, but their names were not on the staff list at the end of 2018. These staff had received salaries up to 31st December, 2018. However, the Director of Administration has not been reconciling his personnel records as against the payroll, and their personnel files were not presented for audit inspection,” the report reveals.

Auditors recommended that personnel files should be presented for audit inspection and the Director of Administration should reconcile the payroll data with their staff list quarterly,otherwise the said fund should be refunded to the Consolidated Fund.

The Chief Immigration Officer (CIO) stated: “A number of personnel files were missing at the Department when he joined the Department in November 2018. According to staff of the HR Unit, those missing files were part of the entire personnel files requested and taken up to the Audit Service Office at Tower Hill for personnel audit exercise.”

He said when the exercise was completed and that  a number of files were allegedly not returned and there were even claims that some documents in some personnel files returned were missing.

He stated that staff at the HR Unit has been requested to take inventory of all file contents. “Internal staff verification has been completed and the data is being analysed to have a comprehensive and updated nominal roll for 2020. Further measures are being put in place to protect personnel files. Missing personnel files will be replaced soon when funds are available. The personnel files available will be presented to the auditors soonest. The discrepancy identified is correct, but I could not have ordered personnel names to be deleted from the payroll if no personnel verification is carried out to authenticate the actual personnel whose names should be deleted,” he said.

He noted that following the verification, staff list and payroll will be reconciled for 2019. Internal staff verification has been completed and that the data is being analyzed for reporting”.

Auditors commented that the personnel files were not received for verification and that on the issue of the 29 individuals who had received salaries up to the end of 2018, but whose names were not on the staff list maintained for that year-end, their recommendations were not followed.

The report reveals that recommendations in the management and functional review report were not implemented by the institution and that the statutory instrument that provides the legal framework for the department has not been reviewed as recommended in the management and functional review report done by the Public Sector Reform Unit with the intention of updating and consolidating them into a concise composite law.

The report states that the department has also not developed a comprehensive policy on immigration matters which provides guidance for the institutional arrangements.

Auditors therefore recommended that the management of the department should provide sufficient and appropriate explanation as to why they failed to implement the recommendations in the Management and Functional Review Report.

But the recommendation made by auditors were not implemented therefore, the issue remains unresolved.

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