Sierra Leone-Governance-Accountability

Sierra Leone: Anti-graft agency reaches settlement agreement with ex-maritime boss

APA-Freetown (Sierra Leone)

Four people who worked for the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration (SLMA) have agreed an out of court settlement payment of over Le900million (US$100, 000) to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the agency said on Monday.

The accused, who include the former head of SLMA, were accused of misappropriating the money when they served at the maritime agency. The ACC in December 2018 instituted the investigation into theapparent disappearance of the money totaling Le 918,657,000).

The Commission said the monies were withdrawn from the SLMA Accounts between August and December the same year, and that the Management under Dr. (Mrs) Sarah Finda Bendu as Executive Director, couldn’t properly give account of how they were expended, although they claimed
the withdrawals were for legitimate purposes.


“The ACC also discovered various systems and processes lapses that the staff concerned had exploited to facilitate the unlawful and improper withdrawals,” the Commission said in a statement announcing the settlement agreement.


It disclosed that Mrs Bendu agreed to repay Le 500million (US$60, 000), while Dr. Komba Dinkin Marah, Head of Internal Audit, will pay back Le 200million (US$25, 000). Their third co-accused, Mariama Bonghor Sesay, who was the Accountant of the Maritime agency, agreed to pay the same amount as Dr Marah.


Raymond Sawyerr, a Consultant, is to pay back Le18.6million (US$2, 000). All four accused agreed to complete payment within 12 months with effect from 1st March 2019, the Commission said.

It noted that three of the former officials - Dr. Bendu, Dr Marah and Ms Sesay, have made initial instalment of payment of Le201,355,000 (US$24, 000) and Le 100,000,000 (US$10, 000) each, while the fourth accused, Raymond Sawyerr agreed to pay fully Le18, 657,000 he is accused of taken.


“The remaining amounts of money due the ACC should be paid not later than 28th February, 2020,” the Commission said, while assuring of its strong determination to uproot corruption in the country.


Dr Bendu made headlines when she was appointed to the SLMA shortly after President Julius Maadaa Bio assumed office. What made her appointment notable was that she had served in the former administration of Ernest Bai Koroma, from which she was sacked amidst
allegations and counter-allegations of corruption. For the ACC, this development is just the latest in a string of such settlements agreement with former government officials accused of corruption. The Commission said within the past eight months, as a result, it has recovered Le11, 768,527,474 (US$1.3million) of public funds, which has been accordingly paid into the Consolidated Revenue
Fund. The move is all part of President Bio’s fight against graft.

KC/abj/APA

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