Speaking during a Press Conference held at its headquarters at Gloucester Street in Freetown, the ACC Commissioner, Francis Ben Kaifala Esq. said that in barely 5 months the institution has been able to achieve 100% conviction of all the cases it has sent to court, whilst it has been able to recover over Le7 billion from those with whom a settlement agreement has been reached to repay out of budget funds utilised by them.
Updating the press and civil society organisations present, Kaifala Esq. stated that the ACC has been refocused and in this regard not every case goes to court, in some cases a settlement is arrived at with the respective individual (s) to pay back rather than go to court.
Some of these matters are done out of the carelessness of officials who are tasked with responsibilities or those who govern the country, but that egregious offences are sent to court. He cited the NRA matter which was settled at Le5 billion. He further stated that in such cases the suspect is given an option to pay in full the outstanding amount or face the rigors of the court.
He also disclosed that several cases are pending, for which investigations are almost completed; the NASSIT Ferry and others. He stressed that though settlements are done, it should be noted that it is in respect of the particular case and if another matter comes up, the individual will be dealt with on a fresh basis. He also disclosed that the Ebola matter has been divided into 3 segments and one part is almost completed and charges are being proffered for advice.
The ACC boss intimated that a bombshell in respect of the Ebola matter will be revealed soon involving a top official in the country.
Whilst settlements will be arrived at, some cases that hinge on the survival of the nation will not be settled except by prosecution in court. Reference was made to the former Deputy Minister of works, Abdul Barrie, whom, he said established a company in the name of his wife but he was the sole signatory.
He then awarded contracts worth millions of dollars to the company, which he signed as minister and in the same breath signed again as signatory of the company on behalf of the company. This, he stressed is a clear example of conflict of interest and no settlement will be reached except prosecution, as it threatens the survival of the state.
On the issue of tax evasion, Francis Ben Kaifala Esq. maintained that section 48 of the ACC Act gives them power to investigate such cases and in this regard several institutions are being investigated namely; St. Mary’s Super Market, Choithram, Fawaz and others.
These business entities are in default of tax payment for up to 2 years and it should be known that governments are run on the tax they collect from tax payers. To evade tax is tantamount to cheating the nation and they should be compelled to pay back what is owed to the people of Sierra Leone through the government. He called on the CSOs and the media to help the ACC in the conduct of its duty.
Moses Mambu, a Civil Society activist, speaking on behalf of the CSOs said that they are determined to assist the ACC in the conduct of its duties, but requested that training be given to its partners in the villages who know less about the processes and the manner of operations of the commission.
Abubakarr Sheriff, of the Concord Time Newspaper, also disclosed the willingness of the media to partner with the ACC whilst requesting for training from the ACC. He called on the media to see this fight as a national duty and embrace it.