An independent institution established for the prevention, investigation, prosecution and punishment of corruption, corrupt practices and to provide for other related matters. 

Contact us on: +23278832131 or info@anticorruption.gov.sl
Address:  Integrity House, Tower Hill, Freetown Sierra Leone, West Africa.



 By: Bernard Abass Kargbo, Public Education Officer, ACC


It is yet another asset declaration year, and this article tries to throw light into the asset declaration regime while explaining to readers what the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019 says about the asset declaration exercise to better enable public officers to see reasons to declare their assets, incomes, and liabilities on or before March 31, 2024.

Over the years, many African countries have introduced asset declaration regimes as a tool to combat corruption and promote transparency and accountability among public officials. Sierra Leone is one such country that has been implementing an asset declaration regime since 2008.

Asset declaration is the process of reporting and disclosing all assets, liabilities, and financial interests of public officer, his spouse, or a child (as the case may be) in trust for or as an agent of the declarant to a designated agency or authority. The aim is to prevent public officials from using their positions to amass wealth illegally and to ensure that their accumulated wealth is legitimate and in line with their income.

As the Coordinator of Operations at the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Emmanuel K. Amara Esq. once put it, "Assets Declaration is among the strongest strategies to fight corruption in the world over… we see people living a flamboyant lifestyle and we admire them, but because we do not have the benchmark to determine whether they should be living that kind of life, there is nothing we could do, with a very strong assets declaration regime, we will be able to determine people that are siphoning public funds.”

Section 119 and its subsequent sub-sections of  the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019 (ACA 2008 as amended), mandates all public officials, including the President, Vice President, Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament, judges, and senior civil servants, to declare their assets to the ACC within three months of assuming office. They are also required to update their declarations bi-annually while holding  public office, not later than 31st March of the second year, regardless of whether there has been a change in their assets or not.

In a similar vein, sub-section 3 of the ACA 2008 as amended, also demands public officers who cease to be a public officer, not later than three (3) months from the date on which he/she ceases to be a public officer, except where extended by the commissioner in writing, he/she shall file in respect of his/her income and liabilities covering the period from the date of his last declaration to the date on which he is required by this sub-section to furnish a declaration.

Category of People to Declare

As the year 2024 is another declaration year for public officers required to declare their assets, income and liabilities, it is but salient to throw light on the category of public officers who are mandated to declare their assets. The ACA 2008 as amended states that all public officers in Grade 7 and above, and public officers below Grade 7 who (handle cash or goods, make official decisions or recommendations relating to the granting or denial of licenses in regulatory sectors, conduct research or prepare analytic reports for higher level officials who make critical decisions on financial economic or regulatory policies or are in regulatory agencies responsible for regulatory compliance, monitoring, and inspection), should declare their assets, incomes, and liabilities with the Commission.

The question one would like to ask now is: “who is a public officer?” Part 1 of the ACA 2008 as amended, defines a public officer as “an officer or member of a public body including a person holding or acting in an office in any of the three (3) branches of government, whether appointed or elected, permanent or temporary, or paid or unpaid”.

In addition to public officials, the Anti-Corruption Commission (Assets Declaration) Regulations, 2019, provided that, any organization, whether local or foreign, established to render any voluntary social services to the public or any section thereof or for other charitable purposes, which receives funds or other donation for the benefits of the people of Sierra Leone or a section thereof, are also required to declare their assets to the ACC. Also, persons notified in writing that they are under investigation by the Commission, and such person or persons shall submit the assets declaration form within 14 days from the receipt of the notice.

Failing to or falsely Declare Assets, Income, and Liabilities

In addition to any other penalties imposed under this Act, Section 122 (1) of the ACA 2008 as amended, states that a public officer who, without reasonable excuse, fails to submit his Asset Declaration Form or knowingly records false, inaccurate or misleading information in the declaration form may face administrative sanctions as outlined in sub-section (5). This gives power to the Commissioner of the ACC to direct the Accountant General, the Director General of the Human Resource Management Office or an officer responsible for the payment of salary, as the case may be, to, (a) withhold the salary of the public officer; (b) suspend the public officer after one month but not more than three months; and (c) dismiss the public officer after three months. Despite the foregoing, sub-section 2 provides that the Commissioner may, upon the expiration of the declaration form submission deadline, issue a default notice to a public official who neglected to submit his assets declaration form within the allotted three months.

Before all these actions are taken, the Commission, under Section 122(3) of the ACA 2009 as amended, will issue a default notice to (a) Notify the public officer; (b) Outline the sanctions to be imposed; and (c) request the public officer to submit the declaration form within 14 days after the service of the notice.


However, there have been some challenges in the implementation of the asset declaration regime in Sierra Leone. One of the main challenges is the lack of public awareness about the importance of asset declaration. Many public officials and private sector players do not understand the implications of not declaring their assets, and some do not prioritize the process due to lax enforcement.

Another challenge is the limited resources available to the ACC to investigate and prosecute cases of non-compliance with the asset declaration regime. The ACC is also hampered by a lack of cooperation and resistance from public officials and private sector actors who perceive the asset declaration as intrusive and unnecessary.

To address these challenges, the Sierra Leone government and the ACC have taken steps to strengthen the asset declaration regime. These include increasing public awareness through educational programs, building capacity and resources to enforce compliance, and implementing sanctions for non-compliance.

The Commission has also eased the burden of paper declaration by going digital; you can now declare your assets, income and liabilities within the convenience of your office or your home, by logging into the Commission’s website www.anticorruption.gov.sl with your login credentials as provided upon registration to same.  The government has also established a Financial Intelligence Unit to strengthen the asset declaration regime and prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.

In conclusion, an asset declaration is an essential tool for promoting transparency and accountability among public officials and private sector actors. Although there are challenges in the implementation of the asset declaration regime in Sierra Leone, the government and the ACC are taking steps to address these challenges and strengthen the regime. The success of the asset declaration regime in Sierra Leone will depend on sustained political will and effective implementation.

© Public Relations Unit, ACC