Sierra Leone: Conspiracy to Defraud the State Over Le2 Billion Sarah Bendu in ACC Net

16 September 2019

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has indicted the former Executive Director of the Sierra Leone Roads Safety Authority (SLRSA), Dr. Sarah Finda Bendu for an alleged conspiracy to defraud the State the 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 indictment against Dr. Bendu together with the Procurement Manager of the authority, Victor Labor and Ms. Kepiatu Alghali, former National Revenue Authority (NRA) Officer were filed in the High Court on Thursday September 12, 2019.

Earlier this year, Dr. Bendu reached an out of court settlement with the ACC on another alleged misappropriation of funds at the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration (SLMA).

A release from the anti-graft agency stated that the three accused persons are expected to appear in court on October 2, 2019, to answer to 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.

The commission stated that they instituted an investigation based on the Auditor General's report, which indicated 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 investigations, according to the ACC, revealed that the three accused persons conspired to defraud the state the 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).

With intent to defraud the state, the accused persons 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.

"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 Share." the release stated.

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