Sierra Leone apparently lost US $ 538 million in only four sectors between 2015 and 2018 to mostly corruption. According to a technical audit carried out by auditors from Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya and Sierra Leone, the telecom’s, roads, energy and social security (NASSIT) sectors were fraught with misappropriation, theft, phoney contracts, and bad investments. The four reports will be released today and contain findings of unfair competition and unequal treatment of some mobile phone operators which saw 4G cellular network licence grated to some and not to others.
Three of those preferentially treated owe the state more than $ 10 million. NATCOM arbitrary imposed fees, charges and penalties without documentary evidence, entered into a contract with a company that did not even tender a bid for the services, lacked proper audit trail, doled out nearly $ 1 million as alleged donations to youth groups, MPs, and officials of the information and political affairs ministries. At the state-owned SIERRATEL, there were 74 million missing recharged voucher serial numbers and 109,000 customers used recharged vouchers not generated by the system, amounting to $ 245,000.
Two IT staff members had POS terminal operations in their own names with a total unaccounted for revenue of Le 33.5 Billion in January to Nov 2018 alone. In January – May, more than Le 19 Billion collected as revenue for POS recharge couldn’t be accounted for. A physical verification of vehicles valued at almost Le 2.5 Billion proved that the vehicles did not exist despite having been listed as fixed SIERRATEL assets.
SALCAB paid more than $ 526,000 and more than Le 2 billion to a company to perform more or less the functions of the board. Worse still, services were not rendered. There were “irregular contracts” awarded amounting to nearly Le 2 Billion. Huge funds were transferred or withdrawn as cash from SALCAB accounts without necessary supporting documents and without provision of services, amounting to $ 2.4 million and Le 1.6 Billion. No supporting documents for “Board Expenses” for the 2015 financial year amounting to Le 386 million. Le 3.2 Billion donated to former ministers, MPs without any policy for approving and processing such. At NASSIT, the NAPOS II software purchased for over $ 2 million has not served its intended purpose. 64 pensioners without social security numbers were paid over Le 409 million. 248 claims amounting to Le 5.4 billion paid out without meeting the set criteria – effectively illegitimate payment to undeserving people
Billions of leones paid to underaged pensioners. There was total disregard for procurement procedures in the awarding of a $35 million contract for the construction of a multipurpose market and transport terminal in Bo (Sewa Grounds) through sole sourcing. A significant variation in the original contract for the rehabilitation of Bintumani conference centre – from $8.2 million to $ 16.2 million. I am still still reading the reports on the civil works (roads) projects and the energy sector.