Concord Times (Freetown)

4 July 2013

Sierra Leone: Public Revenue Theft, Corrupt Transactions

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) yesterday disclosed that seventeen (17) officials of the National Revenue Authority (NRA), Ecobank, National Shipping Agency and Alie and Santos Clearing and Forwarding Agency have been charged to the High Court for alleged misappropriation of public revenue, fraudulent reduction of customs charges and corruption transaction with agents, among others, contrary to provisions of the ACC Act of 2008.

The indictees - Abraham B. Lewally, Solomon Hindolo Katta, Inah James, Adetunji Desmond Cole, Bakie Minah, Everton Faulkner, Abu Bakarr Kamara, Idrissa Fornah, Elizabeth King, Ishmail Dainkeh, Isata Osaio Kamara, Sharka Kpanabum, Momoh Turay, Emmanuel Sesay, Catherina Katta, Santigie Kargbo and Abdul Mutalid Kamara - were alleged to have misappropriated approximately seven hundred million Leones (Le700m) through corrupt activities.

Speaking to journalists and civil society representatives, ACC Commissioner, Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, disclosed that the indictees - who are presently standing trial before Magistrate Komba Kamanda of Court No. 2 for allegedly defrauding the State in a separate matter being prosecuted by the police - are expected to appear in court next Tuesday but this time on ACC charges.

He stated that during the investigation, there are instances were cheques that are payable to the NRA were paid into personal accounts of individuals, citing Solomon Hindolo Katta as the key player in the scam.

According to him, two separate indictments were filed in court, and that out of the 17 indictees, nine are NRA officials, six from Ecobank and one each from the National Shipping Agency and Alie and Santos Clearing and Forwarding Agency.

"The case will be coming up for hearing on Tuesday [July 9] in the High Court. We have evidences to substantiate our claims in court and we will leave no stone unturned in unearthing corrupt activities in the NRA," he stated. "We have evidences where Customs officials were depositing Le2 million in their accounts on a daily basis."

Kamara alleged that employees of the Ecobank were working in tandem with officials of the NRA to defraud the State of its revenues, while disclosing that a cheque of three hundred and fifty-seven million Leones (Le357m) is also being investigated.

He informed newsmen that they have asked the NRA to provide them with the list of all institutions that are paying in cheques and called on all and sundry to work collectively to change the current downward trend.

"President Ernest Bai Koroma has given us the go-ahead. We also charge for conflict of interest and possession of unexplained wealth. We are receiving tremendous support from the police, Central Bank and commercial banks," he said.

Commissioner Kamara concluded by revealing that the Sierra Leone Police has filed criminal charges in respect of allegations of banking related fraud in the sum of one million, ninety-five thousand, eight hundred and two dollars, sixty-nine cents against Simeon Kabba Khalu, Henry Emmanuel Baio, Daniel Mattia, Yakuba Kargbo and Chief Tony Izubundu Chinyere.

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