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ACC is Building a Firm Structure, Kudos!

ACC is Building a Firm Structure, Kudos!

I was moved to write this article after reading and calculating the total recovery made by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) of Sierra Leone in recent times.

The ACC was formed by the SLPP after donors such as DFID, World Bank etc., started asking for stricter standards against corruption. The ACC vision and mission are to prevent and control corruption, enhance the rule of law in order to create an environment for good governance and reform in Sierra Leone.

Since the substantive Commissioner Fitzgerald Kamara assumed office, he has structured a work force that is capable of detecting true expense of fraud and abuse operating in both high and low places alike, because such fraud and abuse are committed by experts or “big rats” that are qualified in incorporating fraud and abuse in their profit and loss figure.

For example, suppose the cost of buying an old ferry by NASSIT is 4 million Euros but unknown to ACC, NASSIT Directors and other APC top guns accepted 1.2 million Euros in kickbacks to steer business to that firm. That means the true cost has been overstated. The result, of course is that 1.2 million Euros have been embezzled from the public purse.

At the moment, the ACC has been spiced with celebrated professionals with an acumen and vast knowledge of fraud examination. Certified big names such as Osman Rahman Kamara (ACCA) one of the brains behind the recoveries, Emanuel Koivaya Amara (LLB) a profiled investigator, Franklyn Campbell, specialized forensic expert and the very Director of Investigation, Intelligence and Prosecution Reginald Fynn Esq and a host of industrious others have teamed up with the necessary skills used in detecting, preventing and investigating top fraud like the example above.

Corruption cases are more complex in terms of time and political pressures and to tackle such top level fraud it requires standards and techniques about fraud auditing. The ACC has therefore been stocked with gurus from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners that awards (CFE) certificates to those who qualify its examination, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, the Institution of Internal Auditors and they have devoted a regular feature to fraud auditing and reporting.

Auditors such as ACCA members may come across situations, during their examinations, which smack off corruption. Since an investigation requires different standards and skills, the auditors can easily get into the business of investigating a suspected case of corruption.

Corruption auditing is a specialized field and requires the skills of a Fraud Examiner, a specialist who has undergone courses in Criminology and Ethics, Financial transactions, the legal element of fraud and Fraud investigation.  Fraud examiners may conduct investigations initiated on a complaint from concerned citizens, employees or internal auditors.

In order to fight corruption in most government departments the ACC should concentrate on 4 major areas. They are:

  1. Procurement
  2. Good governance and ethics
  3. Human resource management
  4. Public performance reporting

Procurement: ACC is currently gifted with the required skills in ensuring transparency in government and public sector operations. ACC has employed specialists that will ensure that government departments complete transparency in their dealings with employees, directors, contractors and other third parties. They also ensure transparent procedure for contractors’ registration, open competitive bidding, evaluation of bids, announcement of contract award, inspection of goods and services, payment to contractors is cross checked and independent complaint handling mechanism.

Good Governance and Ethics: The Commission should ensure that government and the public sector follow principles of good governance in conducting its activities. Good governance will focus on performance to achieve objectives and conformity with law and regulations. They should manage conflict of interest, report all procurement decisions publicly, ensuring financial management decisions, manage risk and keep proper records.

Thankfully the ACC has also been conducting a widely disseminated programme of raising awareness about ethical issues and informing the public about consequences of unethical behavior and conduct.

Human Resource Management: One of the fertile grounds for corruption in Sierra Leone is the human resource management function. Desperate individuals or connected individuals would bribe or shoot themselves into a job or appointment at places of choice or posting.

The human resource section should monitor recruitment procedures in different government departments with a view to identifying any weaknesses or gaps from an ethical point of view and suggest changes in them.

The salaries of the employees in the public sector should be comparable to the salaries in the private sector.

Public Performance Reporting: In addition to employing lawyers and fraud experts, the Anti-Corruption Commission should employ Communication Specialists and Education Officers that will ensure that government departments and agencies are reporting their performance to the public periodically, through print media as well as on the internet.

This is essential to remove the veil of secrecy from the government business, allowing people to hold public servants accountable for their management of public resources.

The report should focus on “big rats” in our society who are constructing houses worth over Le 300 million from our public purse, not fraudsters that are stealing Le 20 million. These petty thefts or frauds should be prosecuted by Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

The ACC should set up multiple channels for reporting violations of ethical code of conduct such as email addresses.  Hotlines should be set up and linked to the ombudsman.

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