Liberia: IAA in Corruption Web

23 February 2020

-Deputy Director Neal

The Deputy Director General for Audit at the Internal Audit Agency, Robert Neal discloses here the IAA sits in a corruption web, calling for action to ratify the situation.According to a communication addressed to the Senate Committee on Public Account (PAC) which was read during a hearing on the activities of the agency, Mr. Neal details the IAA has been engulfed with unspeakable levels of corruption, bad governance, including breaches of integrity and transparency policies and laws.

"These acts are being perpetrated by the institution's Director General, Mr. Emmanuel Barten Nyeswa. For a year we discussed these issues internally but unfortunately, there has been no resolution. It is indicative upon this that I have decided to request a formal investigation into the ongoing standoff at the IAA," he writes.

He explains in his communication that the IAA, in contravention of its statutory mandate, has been very much irrelevant in the fight against corruption in Liberia. "This has been troubling! I wish to provide some examples of the allegations being made."

According to him, excess on IAA payroll; a review of IAA payroll couple of months ago by a senior official at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) showed an unjustifiable excess of close to US$40,000 on the payroll and that Director General Nyeswa was invited to explain the excess.

He continues that when Nyeswa allegedly failed to give justification for this amount that had illegitimately been paid out for months; the MFDP official then placed an immediate freeze on the disbursement of IAA salary and allowance for the month, pending an audit of the payroll.

Neal says unfortunately, with multiple pressures mounted on the said MFDP official which, he did not name, Nyeswa gave in to the pressure, released the payroll and called off the payroll audit. Up to this point, the unjustifiable amount in excess of US$40,000 is still being collected by the director general.

He discloses that double amounts received for IAA Testing Center in 2016, the World Bank provided a little over US$26,000 for the purchase of equipment and rent and the Center was intended to provide Liberians the opportunity to sit for the CPA, CIA, and CFA exams in Monrovia at the IAA head office.

According to him, the Center was not setup during the administration of former President Johnson Sirleaf and the equipment were kept by the IAA and that last year; a second funding request was made to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning for the establishment of the same IAA Testing Center.

The letter details that the IAA did not inform the MFDP that the World Bank had provided the needed resources for the IAA Testing Center.

"The second funding request from the IAA to MFDP was also approved and about US$200,000 was provided for the same project. The equipment, purchased by the World Bank, were then used to setup a training room at the IAA Congo Town office instead of a testing center since IAA request for the establishment of a testing center was denied by those tests granting institutions," the communication adds.

The letter informs the committee that the continued payroll audits of government's ministries and agencies by the IAA appears to provide huge financial savings for the Government of Liberia as ghost names are allegedly removed from payrolls of ministries and agencies.

"The story is completely different in reality. Over the period these audits cost the Government huge financial losses with very little benefits. Clandestinely, as ghost names are removed from payrolls after widely publicized payroll audits, they subsequently resurface on those payrolls. This is so because the scam is intended to always provide the IAA with continued payroll audit opportunities thru which huge sums of money is pocketed. Funding proposals by the IAA to MFDP for payroll audits are regularly grossly inflated by an average of 300% and are unrealistic," Neal's letter continues.

He maintains that in order to justify these unrealistic amounts in IAA's funding proposal for audits to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Director General Nyeswa misleads MFDP allegedly by grossly inflating payroll audit days, numbers of auditors going out for the special payroll audit, number of vehicles used and days rented for payroll audit, among other alleged excesses.The Liberian Senate is expected to probe the letter and come up with a decision.

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