By Mohamed J. Bah, Awoko Newspaper
In a significant development, the Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Francis Ben Kaifala, announced the recovery of approximately Le8.4 billion in old notes from corrupt officials within a span of three weeks.
Mr. Kaifala shared this revelation during a press update on Wednesday, January 24, 2024, at the ACC’s Tower Hill Office in Freetown. Emphasizing the end of impunity in Sierra Leone, he stated, “I made this very clear during the Ministry of Information’s well-organized press conference on accountability, where we laid bare all we have done with the Clerk of Parliament Investigation and the immediate recovery of Le4.3 Billion Old Leones cash from those involved in the SLRA and the Ministry of Finance corruption saga while we continue investigating and holding all accountable.”
The Le4.3 billion recovered from the SLRA and some officials from the Ministry of Finance was prominently displayed on a table during the press briefing, with the Commissioner stating that it would be deposited in their recovery account.
Mr. Kaifala commended the Financial Secretary, Mathew Dingie, and the Minister of Finance, Fantamadi Bangura, for providing crucial intelligence that facilitated the tracking of corrupt officials.
Highlighting the extent of corruption within certain Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), Kaifala revealed that officials spent about four months, from August to December 2023, siphoning off the said amount and distributing it among themselves. However, the ACC, within three weeks, successfully recovered the state funds from them.
Expressing frustration about the prevalence of corruption in the country, the Commissioner stated, “The very foundation of our country for many years has been run on dishonesty.”
Acknowledging the government’s support, Kaifala applauded President Bio’s commitment to the fight against corruption. He emphasized, “I have no doubt in my mind that the president is committed to fighting corruption,” while also acknowledging the limitations of the ACC’s power to control the President’s actions.
Regarding the Clerk of Parliament, the Commissioner noted that the wife had refunded the Le151 million for the 19 months she received as a salary. The ACC has made recommendations to the President for the next course of action.
Kaifala asserted that the Commission had done everything possible to minimize corruption, but individuals still engaged in corrupt practices, depriving ordinary Sierra Leoneans. Nevertheless, he pledged to persist in pursuing those involved to make Sierra Leone a better place for every citizen.
The press conference concluded with a session of questions and answers. MJB/25/1/2023