Parliamentary Committee Absolves Gento Group of Alleged Double Payment

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By Amin Kef (Ranger)

The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, led by Deputy Speaker Hon Tawa Conteh, has on Tuesday June 11, 2024 cleared the Gento Group of Companies of any wrongdoing after an inquiry into the 2022 Audit Report.

The inquiry stemmed from allegations that the Gento Group received double payments for a Government road project contract. However, the Committee concluded that there was no evidence to support those claims. This decision follows the imposition of a NLE 5,000 fine on Kemokai Fatorma, Director of Foreign Debts Performance at the Ministry of Finance, for failing to provide necessary documents to auditors.

The controversy began with the 2022 Audit Report from the Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL), which questioned the handling of funds in a $42.8 million contract between the Gento Group and the Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA). The report alleged that the Gento Group received an additional payment of $5.4 million from the Road Maintenance Fund Administration (RMFA) in 2018, which appeared to duplicate a payment made in 2016.

The Gento Group, led by CEO Mohamed Gento Kamara, vehemently denied these accusations. He asserted that all payments were legitimate, citing Interim Payment Certificates (IPC No.1A to IPC No.8) totaling $27.2 million for completed work. He clarified that claims for delay payment interest and suspension of works were valid under the contract terms and should not be deducted from the overall contract sum.

Gento Kamara also addressed claims of $13.5 million for loss and damages (IPC 5), explaining that these were legitimate claims due to project delays and suspension. He emphasized that the company faced high inflation and rising material costs but managed to execute the project within the original budget.

Furthermore, Gento Kamara criticized the audit process, noting that the ASSL and SLRA did not contact his company for clarifications before the report was compiled. He expressed disappointment in the procedures and conclusions of the audit, maintaining that no double payment occurred.

In response to the inquiry, Gento reaffirmed the company’s commitment to transparency and cooperation. He also voiced concern about the negative impact of the allegations on the company’s reputation and ongoing projects.

The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee’s decision to absolve the Gento Group marks a significant resolution to the controversy, clearing the company of any allegations of financial impropriety.


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