Corruption: Sierra Leone anti-graft agency indicts three senior public officials

Anti-corruption, CorruptionSierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has filed corruption charges at the High Court, against Dr. Sarah Finda Bendu who was the former Executive Director of Sierra Leone Roads Safety Authority (SLRSA); Mr. Victor Labor, Procurement Manager, SLRSA; and Ms. Kepiatu Alghali – a former National Revenue Authority (NRA) Officer.

The three have been charged on various counts of misappropriation of public funds, contrary to Section 36(1); conspiracy to commit a corruption offence, contrary to Section 128(1); failure to comply with applicable procedures and guidelines relating to the tendering of contracts, contrary to Section 48(2)(b); 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.

According to a statement by the ACC published today, the indicted persons have been charged by the ACC after investigations, based on the Auditor General’s Report which states that public funds had been misappropriated by Dr. BENDU, Mr. LABOR at the SLRSA, and Ms. ALGHALI of the NRA, between January 2016 and December 2017.

The ACC says its investigations revealed that Dr. BENDU, Mr. LABOR, and Ms. ALGHALI, conspired to defraud the State of a total sum of TWO BILLION AND NINETY ONE MILLION, SEVEN HUNDRED AND THIRTY-SIX THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED AND TWENTY LEONES, EIGHTY EIGHT CENTS (Le2, 091,736,520.88).

The accused persons are 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 ACC said that, upon the transfer and receipt of each payment, the management of Centrum and KABS, on some occasions, directly transferred the funds to Ms. ALGHALI’s account.

On other occasions, they withdrew these monies and handed over same to her in person. The investigations further revealed that Ms. ALGHALI shared these monies with various employees of the SLRSA, including Mr. LABOR and Dr. BENDU who got the “Lion’s Share.”

The three indicted persons are expected to appear at the High Court in Freetown, on 2nd October, 2019.

The ACC says that it “wishes to reassure the general public of its unshaken resolve to fight acts of corruption at all levels in Sierra Leone”.

Many Sierra Leoneans are now calling for custodial sentence and repayment of stolen funds as punishment, for those found guilty of corruption, instead of settling out of court.

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