Mega corruption at MOF: Two guilty, five set free

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The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has completed investigations into an 8.6 Billion Old Leones [8.6 Million New Leone] corruption case involving some staff at the Ministry of Finance (MOF), Accountant General’s Department and Sierra Leone Roads Authority. Of the said money, 4.6 Million New Leones was recently recovered by the ACC.

According to a press release from the anti-graft agency dated 16th February 2024, the ACC has imposed a 10% interest on recovery of 4.6 Million New Leones from Emmanuel Smart, Accounting Officer at SLRA, and Ibrahim Musa Bangura, Accountant at the Accountant General’s Department, and bans both from holding public office in Sierra Leone for a minimum of 3 years with immediate effect

“The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) wishes to inform the general public that, pursuant to Section 7 (1) (b) of the Anti-Corruption (Amendment Act), 2019, it has entered into a Non-Prosecution Agreement with EMMANUEL SMART, Accounting Officer at the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) and IBRAHIM MUSA BANGURA, Accountant at the Accountant-General’s Department, after recovering the total sum of Four Million, Six Hundred and Fifty-four Thousand, Six Hundred and Fifty-eight (New) Leones (Le 4,654,658) from them in cash, and a further 10% interest on the said sum amounting to Four Hundred and Sixty-five Thousand, Four Hundred and Sixty-five (New) Leones (Le 465,465) in full. It has also imposed a 3-year ban precluding them from holding public office in Sierra Leone with immediate effect,” the press release stated.

This follows the Commission’s investigation into the matter involving a staff of SLRA and the Accountant General’s Department, in which over Eight Million Six Hundred Thousand (New) Leones meant as payment for the completion of the construction of the Kenema-Pendembu Highway was criminally diverted by them. The Four Million, Six Hundred and Fifty-four Thousand, Six Hundred and Fifty-eight (New) Leones (Le 4,654,658) represents the total amount that Emmanuel Smart and Ibrahim Musa Bangura withdrew from the banking system through the Kabala Community Bank, where they had diverted the funds and shared it before the remaining amount was blocked jointly by Ministry of Finance and the ACC.

The Anti Corruption Commission disclosed that both Emmanuel Smart and Ibrahim Musa Bangura, the two key culprits in the ‘fraudulent and criminal scheme’ have paid the full amount misappropriated plus 10% interest and are as a result of this banned from holding any public office in Sierra Leone for a minimum of three (3) years, pursuant to section 7(1) (b) (i) & (ii) of the anti-corruption (amendment act), 2019.The press released continued that their respective offices will, therefore, be notified and must dismissthem from their respective public service posts immediately.

Meanwhile, five other persons were investigated in the matter:Jacob T. Sessie – Deputy Director of Budget; John Ellie – Principal Accountant; Philip Yomba – Senior Accountant; StarlynKemoh – Accountant; Joseph Johnson – Accountant all of the Ministry of Finance and the Accountant-General’s Department respectively. The ACC referred them to their respective institutions for “strong administrative disciplinary action for their respective roles in facilitating the crime or alleged benefit from it”.

The ACC extend profound thanks, appreciation and commendation to the leadership of the Ministry of Finance headed by Finance Minister Mr. Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura for first investigating and exposing the said corrupt act and for the full cooperation throughout the investigation by the ACC.

It could be recalled that, while displaying the recovered money at a press conference held on Wednesday, 24th January, 2024, the ACC boss Francis Ben Kelfala Esq said:

“The Ministry of Finance, I must say, is being run by people, for the moment, who I believe mean good for this country. The Minister [Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura] and Mathew Dingie, who is the Financial Secretary, very professionally brought to our attention that some payment which was supposed to be sent to an accounting firm had been intercepted by some people and that they withdrew the money which was supposed to go to an account at Rokel Commercial Bank in Freetown and sent it to Kabala Community Bank and later withdrew it. They [Finance Minister and team] did their investigations very professionally and forwarded a report to us.

Based on that report, we moved very swiftly, and in less than two hours, we arrested everybody concerned, starting with the ringleader who was a certain Emmanuel Smart and then arrested a few other people at the Ministry of Finance and brought them to the Commission,” the ACC boss explained.

“The ACC has set a good precedent by investigating the matter thoroughly and singling out the two people found guilty for clearly orchestrating and executing the fraudulent diversion of public money and exonerating the other five named above having found that that they had little, or nothing, to do with alleged fraudulent diversion of public money. I hope that they would learn their lesson from this when they report back for duty in their respective positions”, an observer who prefers anonymity told Expo Times just after hearing about the press release from ACC.

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