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Sierra Leone anti-graft body indicts ex top officials

Sierra Leone’s anti-graft agency has indicted three former top government officials, among them a former head of the Road Safety Authority.By Kemo Cham

Dr. Sarah Finda Bendu, former Executive Director of the Sierra Leone Roads Safety Authority (SLRSA), was fingered alongside her former manager of procurement at the Authority, Victor Labour. 

The two, according to the ACC, conspired with the third accused, Ms. Kepiatu Alghali, a former officer at the National Revenue Authority (NRA) Officer, to defraud the state of a total sum of [Le2.09billion] (US$200, 000), the Commission said.

They were charged on various counts of misappropriation of public funds, conspiracy to commit a corruption offence, failure to comply with Applicable Procedures and Guidelines Relating to the Tendering of Contracts, and failure to comply with the Applicable Procedures and Guidelines Relating to the management of public funds.

The Commission said it indicted the former officials on the basis of the Auditor General’s Report detailing misappropriations committed by the three between 2016 and 2017.

The investigations revealed that Dr. Bendu, Mr. Labour, and Ms. Alghali, with intent to defraud the state, inflated customs duties, and payments for related services, and used the bank accounts of Centrum and KABS Clearing and Forwarding Agencies, and funneled monies in the guise of clearing tow trucks and holographic windshield labels.

The ACC, in its statement issued on Friday, 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 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 Labour and Dr. Bendu, who got the lion’s share, the ACC statement reads.

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

The indictment comes just days after the ACC came under attack from the public for publicly parading teachers caught in the act of examination malpractice. 

The Commission was accused of being in breach of the principle of innocence until proven guilty, an accusation it denied.

The issue was so vexing that it warranted President Julius Maada Bio to issue a public apology on behalf of the ACC.

Published on 28.04.2020

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