A special technical audit carried out on four sectors has revealed that over one billion dollars was detected to have been embezzled in just three years (2015 to 2018).
The monies were in relation to the audit on the telecommunications, civil works, energy and social security sectors conducted by fifty (50) local and international auditors.
"$1,036bllion is detected to have been carted away within different forms, most of which are monies to be refunded and others for further investigations. There are names of people, including former parliamentarians, who received monies. This special audit has nothing to do with the commissions of inquiry proceedings," Jacob Jusu Saffa, Minister of Finance said.
Because of the realization that there are more leakages in the system than expected, the finance ministry, with support from the British Department for International Development (DFID) requested the Audit Service Sierra Leone to carry out special audit of the aforementioned sectors.
Twenty-seven auditors from Ghana, Tanzania and Kenya, who are experts in civil engineering, law, quantity surveyors, energy, telecom, forensic and fraud were contracted to help twenty-three auditors from the Audit Service to do the job properly.
According to the Minister Saffa, some of the institutions audited were being run like sludge funds, wherein if someone wanted to do something, he/she can just go there to sign and collect without any proper check.
He stated that those that have to refund monies back to the state would have to do so by June 30, 2019, but stressed that the Attorney General and Minister of Justice will have to determine how that is going to be done.
He said the audit looks at corporate governance issues, project implementation and compliance, procurement processes and procedures, adding that the audit team conducted physical verifications to ascertain the existence of entities assets and conditions.
"A lot of structural and administrative lapses were detected in several institutions. It is important for us to understand what went wrong in this country. Those who have to refund monies will have to do so because it is government money," he added.
Presenting the findings, Financial Secretary, Sahr Jusu stated that an amount of $194,913.12 and Le392million as share of the international gateway revenue were paid cash to individuals instead of the Ministry of Information and Communications.
He added that there was no evidence to show procurement process for the award of contract by the Sierra Leone Cable Limited (SALCAB) for promotional multimedia sensitization activities, amounting to Le1, 619,100.00 paid to Kabaka Multimedia Entertainment.
"Given that there was no evidence of transaction, there is likelihood that these services were not rendered," he said.