Sierra Leone: Revealed at COI: Govt. Owned Shares at SRL; Sold for Less than $13M

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Justice Biobele Georgewill

After suspending the Sierra Rutile Limited investigation for close to a month, the state restarted the probe at the Justice Biobele Georgewill Commission of Inquiry 64, with renewed vigour and documents were flowing all over the place.

What the state has been able to establish without any iota of doubt is that government of Sierra Leone indeed had shares at the SRL but were sold in 2013 for pittance.

Commission Witness Mr. Maurice Cole who is the Finance Manager at the Sierra Rutile Limited revealed with documents adduced at the Commission that at various times between 2007 and 2012.

Led in evidence by State Counsel Mr. Oladipo Robbin Mason, the Finance Manager produces shares certificates indicating government’s shares in SRL at different points.

In December 2007, government shares at SRL rose to as much as 2063 with each share costing about 10 US cents.

A correspondence between Sierra Rutile Limited and Standard Chartered Bank, London showed transfer of $12.2M to the Bank of Sierra Leone (as beneficiaries) of the sale of government of Sierra Leone shares of the SRL.

This instruction was given by the cousin of former President Ernest Bai Koroma Mr. John Bonoh Sisay as CEO of SRL. Another $727,364 was also later disbursed to the subsidiary company.

The Sierra Rutile Acquisition No.3 was a subsidiary company of Sierra Rutile Holdings Limited and are both registered in the British Virgin Islands – a tax haven.

What is gradually emerging is that the subsidiary company had John Bonoh Sisay (Ernest Koroma’s cousin) as one of majority shareholders in the company.

In actual fat, the $727,364 that was later paid, but was to the subsidiary company (Sierra Rutile Acquisition No3) as debt owed since 1992.

The entire scheme is now beginning to unfold and Ernest Bai Koroma and his cousin ran the scam to fleece the country of the benefits of its natural resources.

Justice Biobele Georgewill has given 10 days to the counsels for the persons of interest to hand in their final written submissions, and another 10 days for the state counsels to do same.

 

 

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