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ACC chases missing COVID-19 funds

By Mohamed Bangura (Intern)

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has been working round the clock to ensure that monies and other items that are stated in the COVID-19 Audit Report of 2020 to be missing are returned back by the allege individuals and institutions.

The COVID-19 audit report revealed massive corruption in the handling of the corona funds by NaCOVERC, the body set up by the government to oversee efforts in tackling the pandemic.

Contracts for the procurement of vehicles, motorbikes, laptops and other items running into billions of leones were inflated. The report also mentioned the sudden disappearance of a 5KVA generator donated by the Chinese Government to enhance the country’s response to the pandemic.

Since the publication of the report on December 18, 2020 by Audit Service Sierra Leone, the ACC has succeeded in recovering all the 47 laptops that were missing, as well as the Le5.2million used to procure personal high-end gadgets for officials of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation without due processes and procedures as per the Public Finance Management regulations.

In a press statement on Thursday January 7, 2020, the country’s anti-graft agency said they have received the sum of Le 220,000,000.00 (Two Hundred and Twenty Million Leones) in cash, as settlement of issues relating to the Forty-Seven Laptops supplied to NaCOVERC contrary to the contracted specification.

“The said money was paid jointly by a staff of NACOVERC responsible for logistics, the Head of Procurement at the Integrated Health Project Administration Unit (IHPAU) of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and a businessman responsible for the supply of the items after they were given ultimatum to pay in full within a week or face the full consequences of the law,” the release stated.

According to the ACC, there is still a balance of Le 34,000,000.00 (Thirty-Four Million Leones) left to be recovered following a settlement for Le 254,000,000.00 (Two Hundred and Fifty-Four Million Leones).

“The formula applied is the difference in the National Public Procurement Authority approved Price Norm and the actual price paid for the Laptops purchased (which was the most disadvantageous to the Settlers and three times more advantageous to the State) as opposed to the difference in the price.”

Even though many of the laptop computers supplied are not in accordance with the contracted specifications, the commission said they were confirmed by their IT Consultants to be better in quality and more expensive than those contracted for by IHPAU.

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