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Reading: Ministry of Finance uncovers fraudulent activities worth Le8bn
Reading: Ministry of Finance uncovers fraudulent activities worth Le8bn

Ministry of Finance uncovers fraudulent activities worth Le8bn

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The Ministry of Finance (MoF) has recently revealed that an internal audit review has uncovered fraudulent activities within its ranks 1. The investigation centers around payments intended for Edward Davies and Associates Ltd, a Consultancy Firm engaged by the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) for work on the Kenema-Pendembu Road project. Payments totaling Le 6.5 billion (Old Leones) were processed in December 2023 at the Accountant General’s Department (AGD) for the aforementioned consultancy. However, it has been discovered that these funds were diverted to a fictitious account at the Kabala Community Bank, instead of the legitimate account at Rokel Commercial Bank 1.

The Ministry acted promptly and reported the findings of their internal investigation to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on Monday, January 8, 2024. A detailed Internal Audit Report was also submitted to the ACC on January 12, 2024, to assist in their ongoing investigation 1.

The individuals implicated in the alleged diversion of funds include:

  1. Jacob Tenga Sessie – Deputy Director of Budget, MoF
  2. Emmanuel Smart – Accounting Officer, SLRA
  3. Starlyn Kemoh – Accountant, AGD
  4. Ibrahim Bangura – Senior Accountant, AGD
  5. John Ellie – Principal Accountant, AGD
  6. Joseph Johnson – Accountant, AGD
  7. Philip Yomba – Senior Accountant, AGD

The investigation has led to the detention of the Principal Accountant at the Ministry of Finance, John Ellie, along with other AGD officials at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters in Freetown. The alleged fraud is estimated to have defrauded the State of a staggering Le8 billion (Eight Billion Old Leones)

The ACC officials, while confirming the investigation into the Ministry of Finance and the Accountant General’s Department, have not disclosed specific details regarding the nature of the fraud. However, an independent investigation has indicated the detection of a scheme known as “recycled payment.” Ironically, the suspicious payment, purportedly made to an SLRA contractor, reportedly passed through all approval processes within the Ministry of Finance.

The ongoing ACC investigations may reveal a broader spectrum of fraudulent activities within both the Ministry of Finance and the Accountant General’s Department, according to reliable sources. Senior officials at the Accountant General’s Department, including Kemoh Stanley and Philip Yomba, have also been detained at the CID Headquarters in connection with the ongoing investigations.

As investigations continue, the public awaits further developments on this disturbing case of financial misconduct within key government institutions.

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