Liberia: GAC Audit Finds Millions in Waste And Abuse At National Police

Monrovia — The General Auditing Commission (GAC) has completed and submitted the Compliance Audit Report on the Eligible Expenditures of the Liberia National Police to the National Legislature and sent a copy to the President of Liberia in line with the (GAC) Act of 2014.

The audit covers four years from fiscal year 2014/2015 to 2017/2018. The GAC identifies multiple issues of significant materiality that affect the operations of the LNP. These issues can be categorized among others as follow:

The Liberia National Police made payments amounting to US$8,681, 315.65 for special operations services, intelligence services, goods, works and services without adequate supporting documentation to substantiate the regularity of the transactions. The GAC states that the LNP Management's failure to provide supporting documents undermines the legitimacy of the transactions. However, the LNP contends that some of these payments were made by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.

The report says the amounts of L$475,445,283.29 and US$810,003,.60 reported as payment to staff on behalf of third parties was paid in the names of some senior officers instead of the vendors or service providers without adequate supporting documentation. The GAC states that there is a risk funds intended for the procurement of goods and services could be misappropriated when payments are made in the names of Senior Officers.

The LNP Management states in its response to the GAC among others that "As part of the our functions to provide security, Protect the lives, dignity, liberty and property of citizens and other persons in Liberia, especially the vulnerable and couple with the transition of security of the state by UNMIL during the conduct of General and Presidential Elections and also considering the critical nature of Police Operations during the period under review, the Management of the LNP been cognizant of the fiscal measure taken by MFDP, decided to improvise for the payment of DSA to officers through the Special Operations Fund of which such fund was intended for Nationwide Police Operations".

The GAC position is that the LNP Management did not adequately address the finding therefore, Management is in breach of financial discipline in line with Regulation A.20 of the PFM Act of 2009.

The GAC also notes that the LNP Fleet Management scraped or disposed of 44 vehicles without written approval or authorization from the General Services Agency (GSA). Of this number, twenty-eight (28) vehicles were disposed of and sold to some officers of LNP and in some instances given to individuals who names were withheld as per the records submitted by LNP.

The GAC says there is a risk that the scrapping or disposals without approved authorization could lead to misuse or abuse and theft, thereby causing huge financial losses to Government of Liberia and donors. The LNP Management accepted the GAC findings related to the scrapping of vehicles but did not respond to the GAC's disposal finding.

According to the report, uncommitted balances of non-operational funds amounting to L$110,506,264.82 and US$44,131.06 of the LNP were not returned to the Consolidated Fund Account at end of the fiscal years, which the GAC says is in violation of Section 27 of the PFM Act of 2009 states that, "all un-allotted appropriations and all uncommitted allotments will lapse at the end of the fiscal year. All balances of appropriations committed but not disbursed prior to the end of the fiscal year, shall be available for the settlement of those obligations within 90 days from the end of the preceding fiscal year. All such balances not disbursed after ninety (90) days following the end of the preceding fiscal year shall be moved to government Consolidated Account.

The LNP Management in its response to the GAC acknowledges the findings but contends that that "the Liberia National Police is a para-military institution that is clothed with the sole authority of maintaining law and order and internal security of the Republic of Liberia which required availability of funding at all times to respond to incidence around the country. Sometimes, the operations of the Liberia National Police goes beyond a fiscal period of which the Management has to support financially so as to maintained law and order in a particular locality".

The GAC position is that the LNP Management's assertion is not a material justification for the violation of the Public Finance Management Act of 2009. Therefore, the LNP Management should commit all expected classified or confidential expenditure including security operations at the close of the fiscal periods in line with the PFM Act of 2009 to avoid the violation of the law.

According to the GAC audit, there were material variances of US$4,423,595.10 between the total amounts disbursed to LNP as per the Fiscal Outturn Report and the total amount received as per the Budget Performance Report and variance of US$10,518,227.69 between the total amounts disbursed to LNP as per the (IFMIS) General Ledger and the total amount received as per the Budget Performance Report. Also, there was a variance of US$6,509,488.90 noted between the total amounts disbursed to LNP as per the Approved Allotments for and the total amount received as per the Budget Performance Report prepared by the LNP.

The report further says that the LNP Management maintained the names of some former officers that are dead, dismissed or resigned on the payroll. The total salaries paid in the names of the separated officers for the periods under audit was US$32,163.30. The report further says there is a risk that that maintaining the names of separated staffs on the Police payroll could lead to fraud, corruption and the abuse of public resources. The LNP Management did not respond to the GAC finding.tthe GAC position is that going forward, the LNP Management should ensure that all former officers that are dead, dismissed or resigned are removed from the payroll immediately. Evidence of the removal should be submitted to the office of the Auditor General 30 days after the issuance of this report to the National Legislature.

Further, The LNP Management did not maintain fixed Assets Register/listing to provide detailed information, including cost of asset, date of purchase and coding. Due to the absence of fixed assets Register/listing that meets the requirement of the Public Financial Management Act, the GAC was unable to obtain reasonable assurance as to the accuracy and completeness of the assets owned by LNP.

Based on these findings, the GAC is of the conclusion that the Liberia National Police's financial transactions and operations are not in compliance, in all material respect, with stated laws and regulations for the fiscal years ended 2014/2015 to 2017/2018

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