By Amin Kef (Ranger)
In a major breakthrough, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) of Sierra Leone announced the successful recovery of Le8.6 billion old Leones in cash linked to some officials of the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) and the Ministry of Finance. The Commissioner of the ACC, Francis Ben Kaifala, shared this significant development during a Press Conference held on Wednesday, January 24, 2024.
The ACC Commissioner underscored the end of impunity in Sierra Leone, emphasizing the commitment to transparency and accountability in tackling corruption within the nation. He stated, “I made this very clear during the Ministry of Information’s Press Conference on accountability, where we laid bare all we have done and the immediate recovery of Le4.3 Billion Old Leones Cash from those who were involved in the SLRA/Ministry of Finance corruption saga while we continue investigating and holding all accountable.”
The ACC Commissioner addressed concerns about prioritizing recovery only when Government officials are involved, revealing that the Commission currently has 36 cases in court, with 12 awaiting judgment. Notably, officials of the current Government are among those 12 awaiting judgment.
During the briefing, Kaifala addressed an alleged conflict of interest involving the Clerk of Parliament, Paran Tarawallie, and his wife. The investigation uncovered discrepancies in the duration of the wife’s employment, leading to the return of NLe131,000 as a bail condition. Kaifala clarified that this payment does not absolve anyone of liability, emphasizing that the matter is still under investigation.
Kaifala clarified the ACC’s limitations, stating that the Commission lacks the power to remove individuals from office during an ongoing investigation. Removal can only be enforced when a matter is formally charged in court.
He also pointed out that he held a discussion with President Bio on the alleged corruption case related to Parliament underscoring that the President will have to make an administrative decision further stressing how the President is the Chief Executive Officer and he as Commissioner will not usurp his authority.
The ACC Commissioner also disclosed ongoing investigations into alleged money laundering activities involving former President Ernest Bai Koroma saying that the ACC is diligently working to uncover the truth surrounding the allegations against the former President, with a focus on potential money laundering to bring transparency to financial transactions and address corruption concerns at the highest levels.