Liberia: Internal Audit Report Uncovers Several Financial Malfeasances At the Independent National Commission On Human Rights

Monrovia — An audit into the financial transactions at the Independent National Commission on Humana Rights (INCHR) has exposed massive corruption and financial malfeasance at the entity in which the Commission could not account for US$119,515.65 and L$2,897,533.69.

The audit was conducted by the Internal Revenue Agency (IAA). The audit was mandated by President George Weah. The audit covered June 1, 2016 - May 31, 2020.

The malfeasances, according to information gathered by the FrontPageAfrica have been attributed to payroll management.

The Acting Commissioner of the INCHR, Mr. Bartholomew Colley, told FrontPageAfrica that the could not comment on the findings of the audit. He described the audit as "preliminary" and said he had provided his "preliminary" response to the Internal Audit Agency.

He threatened to sue this reporter, FrontPageAfrica and the IAA should the publication on the outcome of the audit be published. He said the audit was filled with allegations to which he has provided his "preliminary response". He, however, refused to share his response with FrontPageAfrica.

Details of the Audit

The audit discovered that cash value of US$34,878.52 and L$1,095,946.44, net of taxes and representing outstanding allotment for the former Chairperson Gladys Johnson's salary was misappropriated by the Commission, by using said funds to augment staff's salaries, including Commissioners.

The IAA audit also established a mismatch resulting to variances between payrolls submitted to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and the INCHR internal payrolls to the commercial banks.

There were four individuals, according to the audit, actively on the Commission's payroll but were not in the employ of the commission. Several staff were granted salary advances but there was no evidence of liquidation. In addition to that, the audit found there were unauthorized increases in staff balance on the MFDP payrolls and INCHR internal payrolls.

The Financial audit also revealed that disbursements from the core budget, valued USD 335,154.00 and LRD 3,235,172.00 were irregular and did not meet required Public Financial Management standards.

Staff general and special allowances payments routed through cheques, instead of direct deposits to staff's accounts.

Government expenditures valued at US$19,365.97 and L$1,556,840.00 were characterized by third party transactions consummated by internal staff names. There were also no liquidation reports to back some of the payments made.

Additionally, The Commission managed projects that were funded by the United Nations and Government of Liberia; these include the NHRAP, POC, UNMIL (GBV, MGCSP, JJS and Civil Engagement) and Mahar Projects, respectively.

The total project funds value at US$335,154.00 and L$3,235,172.00 cannot be accounted for owing to non-conformity with the procurement laws; ii. third-party transactions written in the names of internal staff.

The IAA audit revealed weaknesses in the governance and structural components of the Commission.

Commissioner Colley, for example, who was then acting Vice Chairperson of the Commission, assumed the role as acting Chairperson in 2016 when the tenure of the Chairperson at the time expired. There has since been no appointment made.

Without an appointed chairperson, issues of non-achievement with strategic goals and objectives together with loss of interest or confidence by donor partners will continue to ensue, the IAA noted.

The tenure of Commissioner James Torh who was appointed in September 2010 for a five-year tenure has remained at the Commissioner since though his tenure expired in September 2015 and there is no reappointment letter for him. Commissioner Torh continues to occupy the position.

According to the IAA, there is also no evidence of annual and quarterly reports being published or distributed to stakeholders. At least reports for 2016, 2017 and 2019 were available

The Act creating the INCHR demands that Human Rights Situations must be published quarterly and annually. Though there are reports for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, there is no evidence that any of the three branches of government was served a copy. International partners and stakeholders were also not served copies.

And on the Commission's website, on the 2016 report has been uploaded so far.

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