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HomePoliticsRESPONSE BY LEONARD BALOGUN KOROMA ALLEGATIONS CONTAINED IN TRANSITION REPORT

RESPONSE BY LEONARD BALOGUN KOROMA ALLEGATIONS CONTAINED IN TRANSITION REPORT

RESPONSE BY LEONARD BALOGUN KOROMA ALLEGATIONS CONTAINED IN TRANSITION REPORT

RESPONSE BY LEONARD BALOGUN KOROMA (FORMER MINISTER OF TRANSPORT AND AVIATION) TO THE ALLEGATIONS CONTAINED IN THE GOVERNANCE TRANSITION REPORT  (Photo: Leonard Balogun Koroma)

Monday, 9th July, 2018.

SPECIFIC REFERENCE – PAGE 27 (h). LEONARD BALOGUN KOROMA AND CHINESE BUSES.

Page 28 (h) 48 of GTT report states:

“The GTT strongly recommends that the former Minister of Transport, Leonard Balogun Koroma, be

Investigated for negotiating this extortionate contract, which suggest that corruption was his key motivation”.

MY RESPONSE:

The Anti-Corruption Commission ( ACC) conducted a criminal investigation into the above in 2015/2016 .

I believe that the matter was comprehensively, exhaustively and conclusively investigated and a report was issued on  5th January, 2016 and signed by the then Commissioner of the ACC , Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara ( see attached ) .

The highlight of the findings is contained in para 2 of the document under reference as follows:

“ Upon review of the totality of the evidence , the Commission is of the considered opinion that members of the Procurement Committee did not act wilfully or negligently, as required in law to warrant criminal prosecutions .

The legal authorisations occasioning approvals, such as “ No Legal Objection “ from the Solicitor General to the contract documentation, negate the exercise of prosecutorial discretion “

Sgd. Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, Commissioner

The above shows that the matter has been conclusively and satisfactorily closed in my view .

The GTT will be better apprised once they access the relevant information from the ACC to corroborate the above and I respectfully admonish them to do so .

Additionally, on the 100 buses, the GTT at page 58 (d ), Ministry of Transport and Aviation, states:

“ All the buses were supplied , and the Government paid a deposit of Le43,950,251, 637, and an outstanding of Le8,101,522,164.11 is still outstanding “

From the above it is clear that:

100 buses arrived at the Quay – they àctually were supplied, licensed and insured.

I thank the GTT for acknowledging this fact .

Consequently, the only other issue raised in the GTT report is the price which I said earlier has been conclusively and satisfactorily investigated by the ACC in its entirety and closed without any prosecutions , apparently because the body that has the statutory responsibility to investigate such allegations and prosecute on behalf of the State considered it unmeritorious to prosecute. Furthermore the evidence is either insufficient or lacking to warrant a prosecution.

FURTHER RESPONSE –   The delegation that negotiated the prices for 100 buses in China included the then Director of Debt Management, *Sahr* *Jusu, *now* *Financial* *Secretary*, as an integral part of that delegation. He was sitting on the high table  during the critical and highly technical financial negotiations (photos are available).

SPECIFIC ALLEGATION Page 28 (h) 44:

“ It should be noted that Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation ( SLRTC ) which was marginalised by Minister Leonard Balogun Koroma during the negotiations leading to the contract, had earlier submitted a business proposal for the procurement of 100 buses, prepared in February , 2014 , stated that it would need “ a total of Le26.5billion “ to procure 100 new buses .

MY RESPONSE:

This is far from the truth. How could the GM , SLRTC be marginalized when he first gave his ‘no objection’ to the 100 buses proposal, prepared and signed the customized specifications requirements for the 100 buses, was part of the negotiating team to China and sat at the high table during negotiations (photos and copy of documents available)?

The allegations above in addition to being already thoroughly investigated and concluded have absolutely no merit.

SPECIFIC ALLEGATION-

Page 28 (I), 49, Government of Sierra Leone Commercial Banks:

“There are two Government- owned commercial banks, the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (in which Government’s stake is 100%) and Rokel Commercial Bank (in which Government holds 51% of the shares).

50 (G)-

“In 2015 alone, according to its own records, Sierra Leone Commercial Bank wrote off Le29.7 billion as bad debt – that is loans it had given to Senior APC officers and Ministers which it concluded will never be repaid.

Among the debts it wrote off was one to Africa Sunshine Limited, which is owned by Leonard Balogun ‘Logus’ Koroma and Alex Mansaray , amounting to over Le3billion “ .

MY RESPONSE:

Let me start by saying that companies are not owned by persons like chattels. They belong to their shareholders.

I can categorically state here that I am neither a shareholder nor a part owner of Africa Sunshine Ltd.

The registration records at the office of the Administrator General or the Corporate Affairs Commission will clearly indicate that I do not own or have shares in Africa Sunshine Ltd.

Furthermore, I must clarify that I, Leonard Balogun Koroma, do not owe the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank any amount of money, let alone Le3billion.

I challenge the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank & the GTT to produce the relevant documents to prove that I owe any such debt or that I jointly own Africa Sunshine Ltd.

SPECIFIC ALLEGATION/ RECOMMENDATION at Page 29, 52 reads:

“The GTT strongly recommends that Leonard Balogun Koroma among others be investigated with a view to commencing criminal proceedings for the Bank loan default”.

RESPONSE:

This conclusion is materially flawed and ill-conceived and sparks of a witch hunt which must be avoided.

I am prepared to clear my name of any allegation of fraud, corruption, corrupt motivation or abuse of office for personal gains. I pray that people in positions of power should not abuse their offices. What happened in April 2018 is not a military take-over.

A civilian government gracefully handed the reins of governance over to another civilian government led by H. E. President Julius Maada Bio.

As promised by President Bio himself, let’s respect the rule of law to the tee.

I welcome any legitimate judicial enquiry, especially one which I pray will be holistic and covers everything so that lessons may be learnt by all citizens about how good and hardworking men can be destroyed with political propaganda.

If we do not correct this , witch hunt ( “ we must get him “ ) mentality now , it will continue to be a repetitive syndrome in the politics of our country anytime power changes hands , which is inevitable , and will not augur well for our hard won peace , political stability and national cohesion .

I remain.

Leonard Balogun Koroma, Former Minister of Transport and Aviation

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