On the ACC, the former SLBS Director and the Accountant

30 May 2009 at 01:45 | 825 views

By Dylan Sogie-Thomas, UK.

Whenever the Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission tries to make headline news about their achievements in fighting corruption it always turns out to be a disaster as the sentence in most cases failed to talk about recovery and continue to be in the form of fine or jail sentence. ACC at the moment are failing to achieve half of their target.

The question now is not whether ACC and the Sierra Leone Law Court are trying to help Sierra Leone recover from its present state. ACC team are not making use of donor funds or achieving value for money as the amount of funds they are receiving and the amount of cases that they are prosecuting and recovery they are making from these corruption cases is not enough." White collar criminals or cats continue to get fat".

There are certain questions that needs to be answered by our Politicians, prosecutors,auditors,judges,juries and journalists.

who is guilty of fraud

what fraud deserves a prison sentence

why big cats continue to stay out of prison

I wonder if the above judgment and the many successes of ACC will serve as a deterrent or an encouragement for white collar criminals who will be happy to misappropriate $22,000 and receive fine of $1,000 and a young boy that steals Le 1,000 in order to buy food is sent to Pademba Road prison.

For many years we have allowed white collar criminals, politicians and educated Sierra Leoneans to commit crime through fraud, mismanagement and incompetence. ACC that we are expecting to put a stricter standards against corruption are failing due to lack of mandate or authority to carry out certain measures that will prevent and control corruption.

I was privileged to visit most of the major prisons and police station in Sierra Leone, whilst working as Finance Officer for the Lawyers Centre for Legal Assistance (LAWCLA) and what I noticed was that real criminals are wearing suits and are misappropriating donor funds and tax payers money, they sleep in their houses, drive jeeps, construct houses in Hill station worth over hundred million leones. The prisoners that were interviewed are facing jail sentence for crime less than one hundred thousand leones.

In one of my article before the ACC Act 2008 was passed I was advocating for directors and other government officials found guilty of corruption to be banned for 10 yrs and stripped off their professional qualifications or membership. Co-conspirators should be identified and charged to court, this will serve as a deterrent to other government workers and business houses. It is no deterrent when a senior citizen steals $22,00 and he is later fined $1000. He should be sent to jail as he has caused more destruction to the state by failing to provide the services to the people of Sierra Leone. Prisons in Sierra Leone are for people that break the rules or commit crime and white collar criminals should be sent to jail.

Journalists should always ask our politicians 3 important questions when ever they are making promises to the state. 1- when is the start date of their intended project 2-completion date and 3-if they have the funds . If they can provide positive answers to the above 3 questions , then they can be later questioned when the completion date expires and there is no goods, services or tangible structure that they had promised, an example will be the lungi bridge or bumbuna hydro.

This also requires urgent action from ACC to identify and rectify any and all weaknesses in government institutions internal controls, and carry out anti-fraud monitoring and auditing. This I know may be easier said than done as ACC is struggling to monitor and implement strategies and the government is also holding back certain authority so as to continue to misappropriate or embezzle money from the state.