By: Bernard Abass Kargbo – Public Education Officer, ACC
“We will make corruption a high risk and low return venture. There will be no incentive for one to be involved in corruption going forward”. Those were the words of the newly appointed Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Francis Ben Kaifala Esq., in his inaugural press conference when he took up office four years ago. Mr. Kaifala assured pressmen and members of the public of his commitment to making corruption an unthinkable venture in Sierra Leone.
The new ACC Chief, putting his words into action pushed for and eventually succeeded in the amendment of the Anti-Corruption Act (ACA) 2008 in 2019. Under this amendment, Section 89 was repealed and replaced with a new clause that makes provision for out-of-court settlements plus interest of not less than 10% for public funds recovered. In the parent Act, there was no explicit provision for corrupt officials to pay interest on loots from the State. This amendment also gives power to the Commission to take court actions as well as corrupt offenders made to recluse themselves from holding public offices for a period not less than three (3) years.
This was the beginning of what will be a record-breaking run of financial and other material recoveries at the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
Within the first few months in office, Mr. Kaifala made recoveries in monetary terms of over Eight Billion, Five Hundred Million Leones (Le 8,500,000,000 ). This amount does not include funds recovered by the Commission for other public offices like NRA, NASSIT, SALCAB, etc. These are monies misappropriated but later recouped by the ACC from corrupt public officials and institutions and paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).
The ACC has also been able to recover funds for other entities. The Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA), for instance, was able to get back the sum of Four Hundred and Eighty-five Million Leone (Le 485,000,000) recovered by the ACC from companies who were not paying their licence fees for heavy-duty machinery, mobile cranes and trucks. The ACC was also able to recover 47 laptops from NACOVERC, non-payment of withholding tax, and PAYE taxes that were deliberately not deducted for onward payments to NRA, etc.
As recent as May 27, 2022, the ACC recovered One Hundred and Five Million, Eight Hundred Thousand Leones (Le105,800,000), which is money stolen/misappropriated by some staff of the Aberdeen Women's Center. And who would forget about the whopping One Billion Leones (Le1,000,000,000 ) the Commission recovered from LEOCEM for EDSA for illegal electricity abstraction!
From 28th June 2018 when Francis Ben Kaifala took over as Commissioner of the ACC to the present, the Commission has made an unprecedented recovery of over Thirty-four Billion Leones (Le34, 000,000,000) , a sum unmatched by any other Commissioner before him. Notwithstanding this huge sum of money, the Commission has also been able to recover houses, vehicles, and a hotel all of which have been handed over to the appropriate government institution.
The gains made so far in the fight against corruption cannot be overemphasized. This has made corruption very expensive and unattractive, with the consequences far outweighing the benefits. The Commission’s multi-pronged approach in the fight against corruption is producing positive international recognitions, which show that the country is serious about the fight against corruption.
All these successes were made possible through the astute leadership of the “People’s Commissioner” who has been working with a dedicated team of personnel at the Commission to achieve the goal of making corruption a low-return venture in Sierra Leone.
©️ Public Relations Unit, ACC