REPORT OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE INQUIRY
On 16th July 2015, His Excellency the President, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, directed that an Inquiry be conducted into the failed WARFP-SL Project in the Ministry of Fisheries and Mineral Resources (MFMR), since the relevant authorities had failed to take action on the serious allegations of corruption. The US$28 million World Bank (WB) funded project was designed to transform the fisheries sector and provide a fishing port and handling facilities for Sierra Leone.
However, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
contract awarded to Global Group Incorporated (GGI) in May 2013 was terminated
by the Ministry on grounds of poor performance by the Contractor. The
Contractor, on the other hand, had alleged that the entire process, from
procurement to termination, was riddled with corruption. The WB had carried out
its own private investigation, referred the matter to the Anti-Corruption
Commission (ACC), suspended the
Through an eclectic approach to evidence gathering, and guided by the cardinal principles of natural justice, the Public Service Commission (PSC) as the body entrusted with the Constitutional mandate for disciplinary action against holders of Public offices, investigated the matter over a period of two months, between August and October 2015.
Against the background of certain limitations and challenges, the PSC carried out a comprehensive investigation into the Project: project inception, management and coordination; the procurement process for the EIA consultancy services; the contract award process; the issue of a Bank Guarantee required by MFMR; an assessment of the consultant’s performance; allegations of corruption; and institutional responses to allegations of corruption prior to the PSC Inquiry.
In the process, the PSC analysed a huge volume of
documentary evidence; listened to a secret recording of a conversation at Dee’s
Bazaar; and spoke to a wide array of personalities: the Minister and Deputy
Minister; Civil Servants in active service; retired Civil Servants who were
connected with the Project while in service; Project Officers not employed as
Civil Servants; officers from Rokel Commercial Bank (RCB); and the Consultant
and his former Executive
The Inquiry unearthed evidence of management and coordination problems with the project; a procurement process that on paper appeared consistent with established rules and regulations but was in actual fact manipulated and orchestrated; contract award based on a weak due diligence process that rendered the Project doomed to failure; of a contract awarded to a firm (GGI) with hardly a dollar of its own to undertake any form of pre-financing as aspects of the contract required; and of an unwitting confession by a Ministry official of seeking rent for manipulating the procurement process in favour of the successful Contractor and for providing underhand services to the contracted firm.
Curiously, there was little real evidence to corroborate the serious allegations of corruption, making it difficult for the Committee to recommend more severe disciplinary action. The allegations of corruption and conspiracy to undermine the work of the Contractor for refusing to pay bribes remain largely unsubstantiated. The preponderance of the evidence submitted to the Committee instead points in the direction of a weak financial base of the Contractor, poor financial management by the Contractor, and poor Contractor performance and delivery.
It is the view of the Committee that the Contractor and his guarantor should take responsibility for the failure of the project. This notwithstanding, there is evidence of misconduct by Ministry officials, poor Project management arrangements, and at times a lack of clear guidance from the WB.
The Committee advances a number of recommendations informed by a thorough analysis and interpretation of the evidence and guided by the PSC Regulations of 1982 and the Civil Service Code, Regulations and Rules:
- Action should be taken by the Senior Management of the Civil Service to (i) discipline the self-implicated Mr. Sheku Sei through indefinite suspension without pay for gross misconduct and to allow time for a conclusion of the Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigation into his breach of procurement law, regulations and processes;
(ii) reprimand Mr. Mani Koroma for his poor judgement but against whom the Committee found no direct, real evidence to substantiate allegations of bribe-taking;
(iii) take remedial action on the matter of administartive deficiencies in the handling of disciplinary issues across the Civil Service; and (iv) overhaul the weak manpower state of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources.
- The Committee also recommends that GoSL and Donor Partners review the current arrangements relating to Project Implementation Units (PIUs). In particular, the World Bank is specifically encouraged to revisit its policy objection to the use of Civil Servants as Project staff and realign its policy with other Donors in the implementation of WBfunded projects.
- In view of the serious consequences of the collapse of the project caused by poor Contractor performance, the Committee recommends that GGI be added to a blacklist of firms unfit to hold a GoSL Contract for a minimum period of five (5) years from the date of this Report.
- In addition, the Committee urges the ACC to accelerate its investigation into the matter to determine the extent of criminal behaviour in the procurement process and bribe giving by the Consultant, and to press charges on behalf of the State if appropriate.
- Finally, the Committee recommends that the oversight
role of Parliament be strengthened with adequate logistical support to ensure
robust monitoring of especially Donor-funded projects.
Part IV of the Public Service Commission Regulations 1982 (P.N. 31 of 1982) and Chapter 11 of the Civil Service Code, Regulations and Rules both make elaborate provisions for disciplinary action to be taken against Public and Civil Servants in cases of misconduct. By virtue of these provisions, and the unambiguous provisions of sub-section (1) of Section 152 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991 (Act No. 6 of 1991), ultimate powers for disciplinary action against Public Officers reside with the Public Service Commission (PSC).
However, over the
labyrinthine processes involved, administrative lethargy and unwillingness, and
weak capacity at
the PSC combined to make the sanctioning of offending holders of Public Offices
a rarity. This
has bred the unfortunate impression that somehow Public Servants can get away
without any real sanction.
Consequently, there is the public perception of a Service riddled with blatant
administrative incompetence and corruption, all of which have led to great loss
of public faith
and trust in the ability of the requisite State institutions to enforce
compliance, discipline and
adherence to stipulated codes of conduct. It has also complicated matters for
like the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), which has sometimes been left in the
position of having to take administrative matters to court in their quest to
However, the chorus of opinion for both reform and enforcement by
institutions that have the mandate and legal competence in this area is growing
louder. In recent times, and in view of the angst often openly expressed by
this administrative deficit has exercised the minds of the Presidency of Dr
Ernest Bai Koroma. It
1.2 His Excellency’s Directive
On Thursday, 16th July 2015 at State House, His Excellency the President, Dr
Koroma, addressed a group of senior Public Servants on developments in the
His Excellency provided a brief background to a failed World Bank funded project in MFMR and, as he put it, about which nothing had been done because of bureaucracy. He, therefore, required explanation on why no action had been taken against those Public Servants who were charged with the responsibility of implementing the project in question. In response, both the Chairman of the Public Service Commission (PSC) and Director General (DG) of the Human Resource Management Office (HRMO) explained that there were laid down regulations and procedures governing the handling of disciplinary matters in the Civil Service and that there was an imperative to comply with them.
A Disciplinary Inquiry can
triggered off, they explained, by the Ministry through a formal report to the DG
of HRMO, who
then forwards the matter to the Chairman of PSC requesting an inquiry into the
matter. This had
not happened in the case of MFMR.
Confirmed in his view about bureaucratic inertia, His Excellency directed that
an inquiry be
However, as the following day (Friday, 17th July 2015) was a Muslim Public Holiday (Eid-ul-Fitr), the Group pleaded for more time to enable the Ministry generate a formal report that would be forwarded to HRMO in compliance with the extant regulations. Monday, 20th July instant, was agreed as the date for the submission by the Ministry of the said report to DG of HRMO.
1.3 Institution of an Administrative Inquiry: Context & Rationale
On receiving a formal request from the DG HRMO on Tuesday 21st July 2015, the Chairman of PSC on Wednesday, 22nd July 2015, announced the establishment of an Administrative Inquiry into reported anomalies in the implementation of the World Bank-funded West Africa Regional Fisheries Project – Sierra Leone (WARFP-SL) in MFMR. With its 300-kilometer long coastline and sizeable continental shelf fed by substantial rivers and rainfall, Sierra Leone’s marine resources sector represents a significant revenue contributor to the coffers of the Government of Sierra Leone (10% of GDP).
It employs over 500,000 people directly or indirectly and its fish stock serves as a major source of protein for the people of Sierra Leone. However, Sierra Leone cannot export fish directly to the European Union (not certified); has no dedicated fishing port; and has no fish landing and handling facilities or fisheries export terminal. What facilities are available do not conform to the high standards required for export of processed fish to the US, EU or Japan.
The WARFP-SL Project, through a combination of loan and grant facilities, aimed at improving the management capacity (governance) of the country’s marine resources; limiting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in its coastal waters; and adding value to Sierra Leone’s fish stock to enhance the chances of export to Western markets and thereby generate badly needed foreign exchange for the Government.
Valued at US$28 million, the project was to commence with the commissioning of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and technical studies into the establishment of a fishing terminal at the White Man’s Bay in Murray Town, an artisanal fish handling platform at Konakreedee, and the reconstruction of a 12-kilometre unpaved laterite rural road linking Konakreedee and Lungi Airport.
Laudable as the Project sounds, its commencement suffered severe delays. It was
a two-phase project of five years each, commencing in October 2009. Problems
early as 2010, when the World Bank (WB) objected to the appointment by the PSC
of a Civil
Servant as National Project Coordinator, resulting in MFMR eventually
Thereafter, first Expressions of Interest (EOI) and then tenders for technical and financial proposals for the procurement of Consultancy services to conduct the EIA and technical studies were advertised in 2012. At the end of the procurement process in early 2013, Global Group Incorporated (GGI), a company registered in the United States, emerged as the successful bidder at the value of US$527,000. After much delay over the issue of a Bank Guarantee, a contract was finally signed between MFMR and GGI in May 2013.
However, by 28th November 2013, a couple of weeks after the 6-month contract
deadline of 13th
November, the contract was terminated, with accusations by the Contractor of
corruption on the
part of Ministry officials and counter-accusations by Ministry officials of
performance on the part of the Contractor. In reaction, the WB, following an
investigation, suspended the project and requested for a refund of the 30%
payment of US$158,100 which had been made to the Contractor. The WB eventually
In the meantime, some of the officials in the Ministry have since retired, others redeployed away from the project but retained in the Ministry, and yet some others moved to other Ministries. It was apparent that little or no disciplinary action had been taken and this was sure to jeopardize other WB and Donor funded projects. It was against this backdrop that His Excellency the President, quite rightly, ordered an administrative inquiry into the matter.
1.4 Legal Basis of PSC Disciplinary Action
A critical aspect of any inquiry is establishing its legal basis with a view to forestalling any challenge to its legitimacy and credibility. At the Preliminary Hearing (see below), therefore, the Committee took care to cite relevant provisions in the four major constitutional and legal sources of power on which a PSC inquiry is predicated:
i) The Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991 (Act No. 6 of 1991): Section 152(1) “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the power to appoint persons to hold or act in offices in the public service (including power to make appointments on promotion and to confirm appointments) and to dismiss and to exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such offices shall vest in the Public Service Commission.”
ii) Public Service Commission Regulations 1982 (P.N. 31 of 1982): PART IV -
Regulation 16: “The following punishments may be ordered as a result of proceedings under this Part:
iii) Civil Service Code, Regulations and Rules:
Chapter 11 – Discipline
Regulation 11:3: Defines misconduct as “a specific act of wrong-doing or an improper behaviour which is inimical to the image of the Service and which can be investigated and proved”
Regulation 11:4: Provides a comprehensive list of acts of misconduct, including the “failure to report improper conduct on the part of any officer of the Civil Service…” (q) iv) Public Service Commission (Disciplinary Procedure) Regulations 2014, Constitutional Instrument No. 7 of 2014 (Annex Two).
1.5 Composition of Disciplinary Committee
In fulfillment of its mandate “… to dismiss and to exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in [public] offices”, the Chairman and all four Members of the PSC sat as a Disciplinary Committee (DC). They were supported in this role principally by the Commission Secretary, who drafted in additional staff to support the work of the Committee Secretariat. To ensure integrity, impartiality and quality control in the inquiry process, an Independent/External Adjudicator was co-opted onto the DC as best practice. Mr. K O Bah, the current Permanent Secretary of MFMR, was allowed to observe the process and contribute to the deliberations.
However, as an official of the Ministry under investigation, his approval and signature of the Report was not deemed necessary. The full composition of the Disciplinary Committee was, therefore, as follows:
Dr Max Sesay - Chairman, PSC and Chair of Disciplinary Committee
1.6 Structure of Report
This Inquiry Report has a simple but logical structure. Preceded by an Executive Summary, the Introduction and Background is the first section, Section One, and provides the context and background to the Inquiry. It also establishes the legal basis on which the PSC can conduct an Inquiry of this nature and the composition of the Inquiry team. This is followed by Section Two, which deals with the approaches employed in adducing evidence, the parameters of the Inquiry and the principles that guided the process. Significantly, this methodology section identifies the sources of information as well as the limitations and challenges with which the PSC had to contend in the execution of this assignment.
Section Three, dealing with the findings, is a microscopic examination of every significant aspect of the EIA contract from inception to termination. Here the DC identifies the issues, the roles and responsibilities of individuals both internal and external to the Government of Sierra Leone, and the responses of various State institutions to the unsavoury developments in the implementation of the Project. This section also looks in detail at the management and coordination of the various processes and resources integral to the implementation of the contract, issues relating to Contractor performance and the sensitive allegations of corruption.
The discussion, analysis and interpretation of the findings constitute Section
penultimate section of the Report. This section allows the DC to comment on the
Following on naturally and neatly from the views of the Committee is a set of recommendations in Section Five of the Report. The recommendations are intended for implementation by the senior management of the Civil Service and other institutions of Government. There are also recommendations for consideration by the WB and other Donor Partners in Sierra Leone. The Report ends with concluding remarks on the Inquiry as a whole, its processes and lessons.
In order to ensure a comprehensive, robust, fair and credible inquiry, the Committee paid close attention to the issue of process, and ensured that every relevant process aspect of the Inquiry was addressed at the outset.
2.1 Preliminary Briefing
Following receipt of a formal request from the DG HRMO for an Administrative Inquiry, the PSC accordingly invited all Ministry and non-Ministry officials directly or indirectly connected with the WARFP-SL Project to a briefing on Monday, 27th July 2015 in the Conference Room of the PSC, where all oral hearing sessions and Committee deliberations subsequently took place.
This Preliminary Hearing served the purpose of providing a comprehensive briefing to all Inquiry participants on the background, context, rationale, scope, procedures and expected outputs and outcomes of the inquiry (Annex One). The legal basis on which the PSC conducts inquiries; the principles that govern an inquiry process; the rights and obligations of individuals subjected to inquiries; the method of evidence collection; and the timelines of the inquiry were all thoroughly discussed at this Preliminary Hearing. At this initial stage, all questions relating to procedural matters were addressed and relevant clarifications made on any/all aspects of the Inquiry.
2.2 Evidence Gathering
In its endeavour to make valid assessments and arrive at reasonable conclusions, the Committee utilised a combination of methods to collate its evidence:
i) Oral Hearings
Over a period of more than two months, commencing 3rd August 2015, the Committee received oral evidence from over a dozen serving and retired public officers and other witnesses. The oral hearings were held in private in line with the Regulations. They ensured the submission of evidence by all categories of people connected with the Project, whether directly or indirectly:
a) Oral evidence from serving Government Officers: These are officers (Civil Servants) in MFMR or other Government Ministries who are currently in active service and were involved in the implementation of the Project.
b) Oral evidence from retired Government Officers: these are former Civil Servants in the Ministry who were in one way or the other involved in the Project prior to retirement
c) Oral evidence from Other Witnesses: these are all other individuals involved in, linked to and connected with events relevant in understanding the circumstances surrounding the implementation of the WB-funded WARFP-SL Project but who are not in the employment of the Government of Sierra Leone. It includes Project/PIU Officers, the Contractor and his former Executive Personal Assistant, and officers from Rokel Commercial Bank (RCB).
ii) Documentary Evidence
The Committee also requested and received a huge collection of documentary evidence from a variety of sources relating to the Project. This is made up of email correspondence, letters, Project documents, reports of the MFMR evaluation team, and other miscellaneous documents submitted by the Contractor (see Bibliography).
iii) Audio Evidence
Thirdly, the Committee was able to listen to an audio recording of a conversation that took place at Dee’s Bazaar at Congo Cross, Freetown, on Thursday 6th June 2013. It was a secret recording tendered as evidence by the Contractor, Mr R. Shaun Gause, as the President/CEO of Global Group Inc. Everyone connected with the recording was given the opportunity to listen and react to its contents. Evidence handling involved note-taking and audio recording of the oral evidence submitted by each and every individual that appeared before the Committee. While the latter gave no guarantee of confidentiality, all participants were assured that information would be shared only on a need-to-know basis.
2.3 Scope of the Inquiry
Members of the Disciplinary Committee and everyone submitting evidence were left in no doubt that the inquiry was instituted to investigate and prove misconduct in relation to the procurement of Consultancy services and implementation of the EIA component of the WARFP-SL Project. In particular, the process aimed at investigating and proving:
i) whether misconduct on the part of Public Servants occurred in the implementation of the WARFP-SL project;
ii) if so, whether the misconduct warrants disciplinary action; and
iii) what disciplinary action was most appropriate for what misconduct
While the focus was primarily on the behaviour of employees of the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL), the Inquiry also sheds light on the conduct of individuals outside of that.
2.4 Application of Principles of Natural Justice
At the Preliminary Hearing, the rights and obligations of individuals submitting evidence were extensively discussed and clarified. The entire Inquiry process was guided by natural justice principles, which are captured in the Public Service Commission (Disciplinary Procedure) Regulations 2014, Constitutional Instrument No. 7 of 2014. Copies of these regulations, along with other documents, were made available to all Inquiry participants and are attached as Annex Two.
In summary, the principles of natural justice require adherence to the following key tenets:
i) Hearing Rule (audi alteram partem): the right to be heard; to put your side of the story
ii) Bias Rule (nemo judex in causa sua); one cannot be a judge in his own case; neutrality
iii) Evidence Rule (oral, documentary, witnesses): given under Oath; conclusions to be guided by believable evidence or proof by a preponderance of evidence; not bound by formal rules of evidence applicable in legal proceedings
iv) Right to Representation (right to support from a person of one’s choice)
v) Right to Appeal (Attorney General to serve as Appellate body if the need arose)
2.5 Limitations and Challenges
It is evident from a careful assessment of the execution of the WARFP-SL project that there were different categories of personnel involved: political - Minister & Deputy Minister; Ministry officials – civil servants; and non-Ministry officials – staff in the project implementation unit (PIU) engaged by the Ministry or WB on a contract basis. As these latter staff are not appointees of GoSL, they are regarded as outside the purview of the PSC. One of them, the Procurement Specialist, was hired directly by the WB. The jurisdiction of the PSC only extends to public servants and not to the other two categories.
However, because officials in the other categories were involved in the execution of a project funded from public funds (loans and grants to the Government and people of Sierra Leone), they could be invited as witnesses to the Inquiry. However, even if they did attend, the PSC has no powers to exercise disciplinary control over them if they were found guilty of any misconduct. Moreover, the PSC has no powers to compel them to appear before its Disciplinary Committee if they refused to do so voluntarily. The same applies to officers of RCB, the Contractor and his former Executive Personal Assistant.
In the case of Ministry officials (Civil Servants), the remit of PSC disciplinary powers is limited to officers in active service. Unless they are guilty of a misconduct of a criminal nature, which could be referred to the ACC or Attorney General and Minister of Justice for further action, retired Civil Servants are, to all intents and purposes, beyond PSC disciplinary control.
A particular difficulty was encountered in securing WB input into the process. The timing of the inquiry coincided with a change in WB Country Representatives in the Sierra Leone Country Office.
The WARFP-SL is a WB project and the Committee reckoned
that WB perspective was critical in understanding the issues. However, given the
stringent WB internal protocols
At the outset, the DC was determined to resist the temptation of making this simply a narrowly focused inquiry on corruption allegations. Members of the DC were determined to inquire also into issues of management and coordination competence, process compliance, and the implications of certain Donor policies.
3.1 Project inception, management and coordination
On the issue of project inception, the evidence submitted to the Committee suggests that there were significant delays in the initiation of the project. The first phase was supposed to have commenced on 20th October, 2009; however, the project did not kick off until 17th August, 2010. Even after commencement, the project was not truly effective until 5th April, 2011 when the Project Coordinator officially signed the contract. This delay has been attributed to several factors - ranging from disagreement over the recruitment of the National Project Coordinator and issues of Office accommodation to house the project within the Ministry, to inconsistencies in the Project Operations Manual, etc.
The Committee was further informed that unlike other projects implemented by the
such as the NEPAD and AfDB projects, there was little Ministry staff involvement
This created resentment among Ministry staff, who were accustomed to payment for working on Donor projects, often receiving more than their civil service salaries. The little or non-involvement of Civil Servants in WARFP-SL created the impression that the Project was managed 'outside' the scope of the Ministry, contrary to precedence. From the onset, therefore, project implementation was bedeviled by mistrust arising from staffing disagreements. The precursor to this was the rejection by the WB of the Project Coordinator initially recruited by the Public Service Commission.
It was suggested to the Committee that the unprecedented manner in which officials of the Ministry were excluded from the implementation of the project may have undermined effective Project coordination. Not much communication seemed to exist between the Project Coordinator and key staff of the Ministry due to the underlying mistrust and resentment. At some point in the latter stages of implementation (2015), the attention of the Project Coordinator was drawn to the unacceptability of the practice of reporting to Directors within the Ministry and to the World Bank without the concurrence of the Permanent Secretary, who is the Administrative head and Vote Controller of the Ministry. In one instance at least, the Project Coordinator was reprimanded for sending correspondence directly to the WB without copying relevant Ministry officials.
3.2 Recruitment of Consultant - The Procurement Process
In theory, it would appear from the evidence submitted to the Disciplinary Committee that the Procurement Committee of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources had complied with all laid down procurement rules, regulations and criteria for the award of the contract. Moreover, the firm that won the bid had, as part of its team, world renowned consultants who appeared to have the technical competence to deliver on the Project. This was the submission of almost every Ministry and Project officer (see below). In the absence of the startling revelations by Mr. Sheku Sei in the secret recoding, the Committee had no reason to question the veracity of this submission.
However, in the secret recording, Mr Sei left no stone unturned in revealing the
lengths of the
subterranean machinations he masterminded to ensure that GGI won the contract.
The rest of the recording is an indiscreet, rambling, boisterous and nauseating regurgitation of his prowess, influence and reliability in fixing things in the Ministry. This, he says, is how business is done in Sierra Leone, particularly in the context of a Permanent Secretary with high political connections as brother-in-law of the President. In essence, Mr Sei left the Committee in no doubt that GGI could never have won the bid without his sterling performance in the procurement process, especially against the background of tremendous odds loaded against GGI in view of the fact that the Project Coordinator had pitched tents with a rival firm and had taken care to draft in hand-picked assessors apparently to do his bidding.
3.3 Contract Award Process: Due Diligence, WB No-Objection & Annex B
There were several concerning issues with the contract award process: the due
process, the issue of the World Bank “No Objection” to the contract, and the
issue of the
While it is true that due diligence was carried out prior to contract signing (see below), it is the view of the Committee that this was not done thoroughly enough. The Project Coordinator did not go so far as to ascertain the corporate presence and credentials of even GGI, the company that was awarded the contract. Moreover, the only reference he secured from Tanzania was for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI), and not for any of the other consultants named in the GGI bid. It was only when things began to go wrong in the implementation of the Project that the Project Coordinator started making frantic efforts to ascertain references (a move that surprised even the contractor).
On the matter of the WB “No Objection”, the evidence submitted to the Disciplinary Committee was somewhat contradictory. Firstly, the Project Coordinator submitted that he sent the report of the Evaluation Committee to the World Bank through the Task Team Leader and that he did not only receive a “No Objection”, but also a directive to proceed with the opening of the financial proposals and the award of the contract. Curiously, however, it would normally require 5 working days to get a No-Objection from the World Bank. In this specific case, it took five weeks following several reminders. So there was considerable delay in proceeding to the next stage, which was the opening of the financial proposals and contract award.
This unusual delay on the part of WB was curious to the Committee. For its part and as reported to the Committee, the WB’s position is that it did not give a No-Objection to the award of the contract. This explains why they insisted on the Government of Sierra Leone refunding the US$158,100 paid as initial disbursement to the Contractor.
These are two opposing views with which the Committee had to contend. In respect of the missing Annex B, the President/CEO of GGI, Mr. R. Shaun Gause (Shaun for short), made unequivocal allegations in his Timelines Report that there was a deliberate conspiracy by Ministry and Project Officials to withhold the reporting requirements from him as part of their rent-seeking strategy, prompting the Committee to recall the Project Coordinator for extensive questioning.
The evidence, as contained in the Contract Agreement, is incontrovertible that ANNEX B should have been part of the Contract document on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and technical studies. However, the Ministry officials, the Project Coordinator and the consultant, all of whom signed the Contract, only signed up to ANNEX A of the Contract document.
ANNEX B contained the reporting obligations of the Contractor and should have been availed to Shaun/GGI. Nevertheless, the Committee noted that the payment and reporting schedule, which constituted the crux of Annex B, were already embedded in the Contract. Consequently, according to the Project Coordinator, providing GGI with a separate Annex B was unnecessary and redundant. Therefore, the Committee surmised that the non-provision of Annex B was not central to any assessment of the Contractor’s performance.
3.4 The Issue of the Bank Guarantee
Of great curiosity to the Committee was the delay in the commencement of the project after Contract signature, the explanation for which resided in the need for a Bank Guarantee for which Rokel Commercial Bank had been approached by GGI. The issue of the Bank Guarantee arose because the Ministry made it a condition of the Contract as a security measure in the event of poor Contractor performance or failure to deliver on Contract deliverables. If GGI had any liquid cash or fixed assets to be used as collateral, both within or outside of Sierra Leone, these were never submitted to the Bank nor did the due diligence process for contract award reveal this. Rokel Commercial Bank, therefore, held as liquid collateral 40% (or US$63,240) of the initial disbursement of US$158,100 made to GGI by the Ministry. The impact of this on the execution of the Project lies at the heart of this Committee’s investigation.
Moreover, the Committee’s attention was drawn to the allegation by Shaun that there appeared to be two Bank Guarantees provided by the Bank for the same project. According to Shaun, one of the Guarantees was disclosed to him and the other was not and, therefore, not authorised by him. However, when questioned on this, the Project Coordinator claimed that he knew of only one Bank Guarantee - the one brought to him by Shaun. There was, therefore, in the view of the Committee the need for further clarification by Rokel Commercial Bank of the matter of the Bank Guarantee it issued to GGI. This led the Committee to extend an invitation to the Manager of RCB or their representative to testify to the Committee. Appearing before the Committee on behalf of RCB were Mr Morison Conteh, Director of Risk Management, Mrs Henrietta Kargbo, Acting Credit Analyst, and Mr. Prince Williams, the then Congo Cross Branch Manager.
The Committee received evidence on RCB’s standard operating procedure governing
Guarantees in general. The Bank issues several types of Guarantees, such as Bid
social standing of the client and their integrity, credibility, and relationship
with the Bank. This is
done on a case by case basis. In the event of customer default in Guarantees
with less than
100% cash collateral, the Bank has no other penalties than to debit the account
of the client and
pay out its obligations. The client’s account will then go into deficit.
Crucially for the purposes of this Inquiry, the Committee was informed that there is an internal process linked to Bank Guarantees, in which the Client indemnifies the Bank by signing an internal Guarantee. On the specific case of GGI’s Bank Guarantee, RCB representatives informed the Committee that a request for an Advance Payment Guarantee of 30% of the Contract value of US$158,100 (One hundred and Fifty Eight thousand, One hundred US dollars) was received from GGI through its Congo Cross branch in respect of the EIA Studies. The amount of US$158,100 represented 30% of the Contract value for the EIA Studies and was payable to GGI as first disbursement but for which the Ministry required a Bank Guarantee. GGI’s request was accompanied by several supporting documents, including copy of the Contract and a letter from Mr. Dalton F Shears as Guarantor. A Senior Director and Advisor of GGI, Mr. Shears provided a Personal Guarantee and a promise of a deposit of Le30,000,000 (Thirty Million Leones) into the GGI Account (No. 11-1772507) at the Rokel Commercial Bank.
Significantly, RCB held 40% Cash Guarantee instead of the 30% requested by GGI,
difference of over US$15,000 in real terms. Asked why, the Bank reps explained
that the 30%
Responding to questions about a second Bank Guarantee, RCB officials were categorical that there was no likelihood of this happening. There was no question of the Ministry requesting for a second Bank Guarantee as alleged by GGI. As noted above, Bank Guarantees are signed by Bank officials alone. What Shaun submitted to the Committee and was referring to, mistakenly of course, as a second Bank Guarantee was in fact the internal indemnity Mr Shears had signed at the Rokel Commercial Bank during the negotiation process for the actual Bank Guarantee. To RCB, not only would it be illogical to issue a second Bank Guarantee for the same project, it would also be out of step with standard RCB practice.
Six months after the issuance of GGI’s Bank Guarantee, the Contract was
terminated. It then
became an issue for the Ministry, GGI and RCB. The Ministry demanded 100% of the
In reaction to Shaun’s claim that his request for a Line of Credit was refused by RCB, the Bank’s representatives submitted to the Committee evidence of an overdraft facility of Le65,000,000 made available to GGI and from which several cheque payments were made by officers acting on behalf of the company, including Shaun’s wife, who was one of the company Directors.
3.5 Role of Minister & Deputy Minister
A careful periodisation of the change of Ministers at MFMR demonstrates that the
Minister, Hon. Momodu Alieu Pat-Sowe, and Deputy Minister, Mr Charles Rogers,
Hon Pat-Sowe dismissed as nonsense allegations made by Mr. Sei in the secret recording that the Minister had a firm of his preference for the award of the Contract. Mr. Sei also suggests that the Minister knew of the request made to Shaun for US$50,000 to be paid to Ministry officials. The Minister countered these allegations by pointing out that it was on his instructions that orders for the termination of the contract were given, on the grounds that the Mid-Term Report submitted by GGI was woefully unsatisfactory. The Minister claimed to have acted in good faith by instructing the termination of the Contract.
However, this is contrary to the view of Shaun, who has argued that the Ministry’s action was propelled instead by his (Shaun’s) non-compliance with the demands of Ministry officials for bribes. Shaun alleges in his Timelines Report that the Minister had asked him to deal with him (the Minister) directly instead of going through untrustworthy Civil Servants, after he allegedly learnt from Shaun, to his utter dismay and annoyance, that Mr. Mani Koroma, the Permanent Secretary, had not disclosed the US$10,000 Shaun alleged to have given him.
The Hon Minister denies ever having this conversation with Shaun. There is no suggestion that the Deputy Minister is involved in any of this.
3.6 Role of Government of Sierra Leone Officials
A. Officers in Active Service
i) Mr. Mani Koroma, Permanent Secretary & Chairman of the Procurement Committee
Mr. Mani Koroma led the Procurement Committee team to Makeni for the technical evaluation. In his evidence to the Committee, Mr Koroma submitted that the Procurement Committee complied with all the laid down procurement regulations and requirements of the WB. However, there are suggestions by Mr Sei in the secret recording that Mr. Koroma may have favoured GGI.
There is also the crucial issue of Shaun’s allegations that he (Shaun) gave
Koroma) $10,000 directly. However, Mr. Koroma denied this under oath and the
However, the Committee is convinced, despite his denial, that Mr Koroma went to the Dee's Bazaar, where Shaun and Mr Sheku Sei were having a meeting. In the private/secret recording submitted to the Committee by Shaun, Mr Koroma’s voice is unmistakably discernible. Critically, however, Mr. Koroma did not address Shaun directly, made no reference to money and spoke about the Project only tersely. All he said, rather ambiguously, in relation to the Project was that a decision had been taken at the Ministry that if Shaun did not “perform” by the following Tuesday (the Dee’s Bazaar meeting took place on a Thursday), the Ministry would terminate the Contract. These events happened at a time when the Ministry and the WB had judged Shaun’s Mid-Term report as unsatisfactory and GGI was clearly in breach of the Project delivery timelines. It was also the time when Shaun alleged to have come under pressure from Ministry officials for bribes (“commitment to the Ministry”).
ii) Mr Sheku Sei, Acting Senior Fisheries Officer and Member, Procurement Committee
Mr. Sheku Sei was the Ministry's key liaison point with Shaun. This was
confirmed to the
Committee by Shaun’s former Executive Personal Assistant, Mr. Tamba Saquee. Mr
Sei is a
The evidence suggests that he was very popular with succeeding Ministers because of his diligence and expertise in the field of Marine Biology. At a point, he was mocked in the Ministry as the Deputy Minister to Hon. Pat-Sowe’s predecessor, Dr Soccoh Kabbia, who incidentally had no substantive Deputy Minster. Even the current Minister (Hon. Pat-Sowe) has found him extremely useful and endearing.
In his submission to the Committee, Mr Sei narrated his involvement in the
process, and gave assurances that the process complied with the correct
If the Contract for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) ended up being awarded to an inappropriate bidder, to a very large extent that can be credited to Mr. Sei. The startling revelations at the Dee’s Bazaar meeting are eloquent of Mr Sei’s role as the kingpin in the nebulous transactions between the Ministry and Shaun. While Mr. Sei denies being the person in the recording or in any way connected to the Dee’s Bazaar meeting, the Committee has no iota of a doubt that it was him. This was confirmed to the Committee by a witness, Mr Tamba Saquee, Shaun’s former Executive Personal Assistant, who was himself present at the meeting.
The Committee also compared the voices in the secret recording and those in the recordings of its own proceedings, and came to the inescapable conclusion that the voices in the secret recording are those of Shaun, Mr. Sei and Mr. Koroma.
iiii) Mr. Patrick Sundifu, Acting Deputy Secretary
Mr. Sundifu is a Senior Assistant Secretary in the Ministry. He is currently
acting as Deputy
Secretary. He was a member of the original Procurement Committee but was later
iv) Mr. Justin Kenja, Senior Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Finance & Economic Development:
A staff of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED), Mr Kenja was the only non-MFMR official on the reconstituted Procurement Committee. He travelled to Makeni for the evaluation of the technical proposals for the EIA Contract. He informed the Committee that his only role in Makeni was scoring and ranking of bids. Beyond that, he had no other involvement with the Project. However, he claimed to have raised the necessary alarms with his boss in MoFED (Mr. Sam Kpakra) and the Project Coordinator (Dr Sankoh), albeit informally, when the Project Schedule, Timelines and Benchmarks were slipping. Those were red flags to the effect that the Project was not performing on its deliverables. Mr Kenja also submitted that he offered informal advice to his boss and Dr Sankoh for the termination of the Contract on the basis that the Project did not appear to be on track. The Committee noted, however, that the issue was never taken up with the highest authority within MoFED for a timely intervention in the matter.
B. Retired Officers
i) Mr. Arnold Robbie – Retired Deputy Director and Focal Person, Governance
Mr. Robbie was the Deputy Director of Fisheries at the time of the EIA contract.
submission to the Committee, Mr. Robbie made reference to the involvement of
in several meetings with the World Bank. In any case, he was not a full member
Procurement Committee. He only deputised the Director of Fisheries when the
absent. Although he participated in the Procurement Committee meetings in Makeni,
he was not
part of the evaluation team of the Technical and Financial Proposals. He was
he was not aware of any corruption in the procurement process, otherwise he
would have said
ii) Mr. Alpha A. Bangura, Retired Director of Fisheries:
Mr. Bangura is also a retired Civil Servant and former Director of Fisheries. He
mistakes both collective and individual that led to the demise of the Project
viz, unclear reporting
lines, failure of GGI to deliver, slow implementation on the part of the
Ministry, and delays in
World Bank responses to requests for approval in implementing the Project. Mr.
line manager, was also instrumental in helping the Project Coordinator settle in
well in the
i) Dr. Salieu Kabba Sankoh, National Project Coordinator
Dr. Salieu Sankoh was contracted by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources as National Project Coordinator on an annual rolling contract, commencing 17th August 2010. From his description of his main duties and responsibilities, Dr Sankoh appeared to the Committee to be a key witness in this saga, which explains why he appeared before the Committee twice to help shed light on a raft of issues.
Dr Sankoh had three main reporting lines: to the Ministry through the Director of Fisheries, the WB Country Office, and the WB Regional Office. From the totality of the evidence available to this Committee, it would be fair to assert that while Dr Sankoh appeared to have a good working relationship with the World Bank, the same could not be said of the Ministry.
Submitting evidence to the Committee, Dr Sankoh outlined in detail his main duties and responsibilities, the key objectives of the Project, the Project budgetary allocations and design, and the factors leading to the termination of the Ministry’s EIA contract with GGI. He commenced his account by clearly identifying the causes of the delay in the commencement of the Project – recruitment disagreements, office accommodation issues, and inconsistencies in the Project Operations Manual. He also shed light on a key dilemma of the Project from the onset: the disaffection engendered by the Project’s failure to involve and remunerate Ministry staff due to WB policy objection. This had a direct link with the capacity issue of the Ministry.
He recognised the crucial role of Ministry officials in the implementation of the Project: signing of authorizations and cheques; participation in procurement processes; and review of consultancy reports. The disaffection of Ministry officials was openly manifested in a number of ways.
First, there was the manner in which they dissociated themselves from the Project during the first WB Mission in May 2011.
Second, was the Ministry’s decision to reconstitute the Procurement Committee along the lines agreed in the WB Mission’s Aide Memoire. The Procurement Committee was now made up of almost entirely Ministry officials, with dire consequences in the end.
Third, Dr Sankoh confessed to struggling to fix meetings with the then Minister and that for two years, the latter failed to sign his contract. Furthermore, Dr Sankoh informed the Disciplinary Committee that not once did the Minister ask him about the Project until the time of the crisis. To make matters worse, both the Director and Permanent Secretary, to whom he (Dr Sankoh) reported, appeared to be completely sidelined by the then Minister, he alleged.
On the procurement process itself, Dr Sankoh expressed no misgivings about either the conduct or outcome. He had taken care to nominate two technical experts from Fourah Bay College and the Ministry of Lands, Country Planning & the Environment to be part of the technical evaluation process in view of the skewed nature of the Procurement Committee’s membership. Dr Sankoh further gave a detailed account of the procurement process: committee membership, number of bids for both the Expressions of Interest and technical proposals, the rationale for moving the technical evaluation to Makeni, and the delays in WB no-objection to proceed with the opening of the financial bids and Contract award process. He had no doubt that GGI, which had the best technical proposal and lowest financial bid, won the Contract fairly. He also took the Disciplinary Committee through the due diligence process he followed at the Contract award phase and ensured that Ministry exposure to Contractor failure was virtually nullified through a Bank Guarantee to be submitted by the Contractor.
Furthermore, Dr Sankoh took the Committee through his harrowing experience with the Contractor, who had travelled to the US shortly after payment of the first disbursement: the late commencement of studies, poor communication and often deafening silence, the late submission and poor quality of the Inception Report (it came after two months instead of two weeks), and Shaun’s unsatisfactory incorporation of comments on the Inception Report.
Dr Sankoh said he had an inkling, from the delays in the very early days after Contract award, that the Project may run into problems. On his return from the US, Shaun was asking for more money against the background of the 40% of the initial disbursement held as collateral by Rokel Commercial Bank. However, Dr Sankoh noted that it was clear to him that Shaun’s request was in contravention of the clear payment schedule contained in the Contract. Every attempt by Shaun to secure the release of the 40%, including persuading Dr Sankoh to write to Rokel Commercial Bank for that purpose, failed.
In his account to the Disciplinary Committee, Dr Sankoh attributed the failure of the Project almost entirely to poor performance by the Contractor. Dr Sankoh recalled how after struggling to get GGI to submit a satisfactory Inception Report, he also had to contend with the failure by GGI to produce a satisfactory Mid-Term Report, and agonised that it was this that finally broke the camel’s back.
Significantly, he said it was when Shaun’s request for more money and an extension of the Project timelines were turned down by the Ministry that he (Shaun) started making claims that he had encountered problems with the work because people in the Ministry had asked him for money. Dr Sankoh said Shaun singled out Mr. Mani Koroma, Sheku Sei and Saidu Sesay for trying to extort from him money to the tune of US$75,000. Shaun also claimed to have given US$10,000 directly to Mr Mani Koroma. Shaun further told Dr Sankoh that it was these same three people that helped open GGI’s account with Rokel Commercial Bank.
In light of the seriousness of his allegations and the implications for the project, Shaun was requested to provide a Statement of Expenditure, which in the end did not indicate any payment of money to Ministry officials. Curiously, according to Dr Sankoh, it became evident from Shaun’s Statement of Expenditure that only approximately 30% related to Project activities. The rest was expenditure relating to Shaun’s re-settlement of his family in Sierra Leone. In the final analysis, Project implementation came to be dogged by a crisis of financial support and administrative mis-management. In his view, therefore, the issue of finance constituted the bedrock on which the Project palpably foundered.
After several failed attempts to get Shaun to submit an improved Mid-Term Report, Dr Sankoh notified Shaun of the real possibility of commencing the process of Contract termination. It was now incontrovertibly clear to him that GGI could not deliver on the Project deliverables. Dr Sankoh later learned that Shaun was making plans to leave the country. The first letter from the Ministry’s legal agent advising Shaun of the Ministry’s intention to terminate the Contract could not be delivered because Shaun had vacated the registered office.
Shaun to respond within 48 hours, had to be sent to him by email. Shaun only
responded after the Contract had been terminated. He was no longer in Sierra
response, Shaun renewed his allegations that the termination was informed by
by Ministry officials for which he had prima facie evidence.
Rokel Commercial Bank has since honoured the terms of the Guarantee and paid the money in bulk to MFMR. For its part, and against this debacle, the WB decided not to extend Phase One of the WARFP-SL Project, which officially ended in December 2014.
Dr Sankoh concluded his submission to the Committee at his first appearance by informing the Committee that a new Fisheries Project was now being prepared by the WB, in which the Ministry’s involvement would be limited to technical supervision only. According to him, the WB was carrying out three investigations in the Fisheries sector, with the potential to jeopardise WB funding: the purchase and delivery of a Patrol Boat, the opening of the In-shore Exclusion Zone, and the EIA Contract to GGI. All three involved Ministry officials.
Dr Sankoh says he has since never heard from Shaun. He, however, informed the Committee that he had reliably learnt that Shaun has since approached WB Washington with a lawyer and repeated his allegations that his Contract was fraudulently terminated because he refused to pay bribes to Ministry officials. Shaun is also making claims against the Government of Sierra Leone for about US$285,000 in damages.
ii) Mr. Saidu Sesay, World Bank Procurement Specialist.
Mr. Saidu Sesay was employed by the World Bank as Procurement Specialist. He admitted that there was full compliance with the World Bank regulations for the award of the Contract. As far as he was concerned, by the World Bank standard, the procurement procedures were complied with to the letter. He observed that the procurement tools used in the evaluation process were developed by the World Bank specialist and that the criteria applied by the Procurement Committee had World Bank No-Objection. He detailed comprehensively all the steps followed during the procurement process.
There is no reference to him attending the Dee's Bazaar meeting but there are
Shaun in the secret recording that Mr. Sesay collected Le22,000,000 (Twenty Two
3.8 Other Witnesses
i) Mr. R. Shaun Gause: Contractor – President/CEO, Global Group Incorporated
In addition to submitting a chronological account of events in a paper entitled Timeline of Events Impacting EIA Studies, Shaun also made an hour-long telephone submission of evidence to the Committee on 12th August 2015. Shaun essentially affirmed that he stood by all the allegations in his Timeline Report, the central theme of which is that GGI stuck to the terms of the Contract and that the Project failed due to corruption.
ii) Mr. Tamba Saquee, Executive Personal Assistant to President/CEO of GGI
A former assistant to and driver of Shaun, Mr. Saquee informed the Committee that he had had several contacts with MFMR officials, accompanied Shaun to meetings, and personally knew Messrs Sheku Sei, Saidu Sesay and Mani Koroma. He also sometimes handled documents, picked up calls for Shaun and knew about the secret recording at Dee’s Bazaar, where he was present. Mr Saquee also represented GGI at the opening of the bids and went to Konakreedee as part of the pre-bid conference.
Reacting to a playback of the secret recording, Mr. Saquee was unequivocal that the voices in the recording are those of Mr Sei, Shaun and Mr. Koroma and confirmed that the meeting took place in the upper floor of the Dee’s. He further confirmed that it was these same three people that accompanied Shaun and himself to First International Bank (FIB) to negotiate a Bank Guarantee when the process with Rokel Commercial Bank became agonizingly slow.
Mr. Saquee corroborated Shaun’s account that it was Mr. Sei who made the most persistent calls to Shaun and that Shaun spoke to him about money the Ministry officials were demanding for supporting his bid. He confessed to having no idea of the specific amount requested but was aware that Shaun was constantly giving excuses to avoid giving them any money. He considered Shaun’s offer of money to Ministry officials simply as compensation for facilitation rather than a bribe. And although he was unaware of how much money had been paid to Shaun, he knew that Shaun had rented a three-storey house with a swimming pool at Juba for about US$50,000 a year and eventually paid for a white Range Rover (Sport) vehicle. The Committee noted that Mr. Saquee had not previously been interviewed by the ACC.
3.9 Consultant’s Performance and Delivery
GGI’s account of events relating to the EIA Contract is contained in Shaun’s
Timeline of Events Impacting EIA Studies paper, a 19-page document containing a
Shaun asserts, in his Timelines Report, that Annex B to the Contract document,
the reporting obligations of the Contractor, was deliberately withheld from GGI
and was never
provided even after several representations were made to the Project
Coordinator. The ulterior
motive, Shaun alleges, was to undermine the credibility of GGI reports and
provide grounds for
termination if he (Shaun) did not comply with bribery demands.
Furthermore, there is Shaun’s allegation that the Mid-term Report was rated
Moreover, Shaun alleges that some Ministry and even World Bank Officials and/or Consultants had vested interests in the award of the Contract. References were made by Mr. Sei in the secret recording to the Minister having his own preference and Dr Sankoh favouring Worley Parsons. WB officials and/or consultants also attempted to do a deal with GGI consultants behind the back of GGI, although this was when it became evident to the WB that the project had run into problems. In addition, Shaun points to problems of coordination which the Ministry failed to address and which also impacted on the performance/delivery of the Project. In this instance, the proposed Project site for the construction of the harbour at Murray Town had been taken over by the Ministry of Defence prior to the arrival of one of GGI’s international consultants on the EIA Studies and GGI was now requested to identify an alternative site, which was never part of the contract.
These are all very serious allegations that the Disciplinary Committee sought to probe (see below), because of their wide ranging implications.
3.10 Allegations of Corruption – Issues, Personalities and Amount
On the basis of Shaun’s allegations (above), the Committee set out to adduce evidence and find answers to three major questions while dealing with this issue:
(a) Did corruption occur?
(b) Did it have an impact on the Project?
(c) Were Government officials implicated, how and which of them?
The critical challenge for the Committee was to prove real direct evidence of
opposed to allegations, and deciding which Government official was involved and
Mr. Mani Koroma:
The Committee believes that Mr. Mani Koroma went to Dee’s
Bazaar on the
invitation (by phone) of Mr Sheku Sei, even though he (Mr Koroma) denied the
Permanent Secretary and Administrative head, the Committee found it rather
his status and personality to accede to a request to visit a social venue at
such snap notice and
Mr. Sheku Sei:
By his own admission, it was Mr Sei who masterminded the award of
contract to GGI. He prided himself on being very influential in the Ministry and
a key player in
Ministry processes. The Committee believes it was he who went to the Dee’s
he denied going there. An eye witness, in the person of Mr. Tamba Saquee,
confirmed both Mr.
Mr. Patrick Sundifu:
There is no suggestion or any evidence pointing to any misconduct on his part.
Mr. Arnold Robbie:
a retired Civil Servant and Deputy Director of Fisheries during the currency of the Project. No improper conduct was attributable to Mr. Arnold Robbie. There is nothing to link Mr. Robbie to any corrupt activities in this matter and his name was mentioned nowhere.
Mr. Alpha A. Bangura:
Also a retired Civil Servant and former Director of
Fisheries. As noted
above, he highlighted the mistakes both collective and individual that led to
the demise of the
project. He is not implicated in any act of misconduct or corruption as far as
the EIA contract
A staff of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED), Mr Kenja was the only non-MFMR official on the reconstituted Procurement Committee. He travelled to Makeni for the evaluation of the technical proposals for the award of the contract. Beyond that, there is no reference to him anywhere in the Project implementation or corruption allegations saga. The Committee further examined the evidence available to it for any indications that the two key Project Officers may have been involved in corrupt behaviour in the implementation of the Project.
Dr. Salieu Sankoh:
There is no evidence linking him to any corrupt practice or
money with Shaun, except for Shaun’s allegation that Dr Sankoh once asked him if
understood that the Ministry was expecting US$50,000 from him. However, it was
who failed to avail Annex B of the Project document to Shaun, thereby providing
suspicion that somehow there was a Ministry conspiracy to undermine GGI’s
Although he did due diligence in the Contract award and the procurement process,
there is no
The view of the Committee was that Dr. Sankoh was also highly influenced by Stephen Akester, the World Bank consultant for the WARFP-SL Project. By his own admission, Dr Sankoh often found it easier to deal with the WB if he had checked things out first with Mr Akester and got his informal approval, before approaching officials in the WB Country and Regional Offices.
Mr Saidu Sesay:
Shaun alleges that he gave Le22,000,000 (Twenty –two million Leones) to Mr Sesay which was later returned. Mr. Sesay, however, denied under oath ever receiving money from Shaun, and the Committee had no way of proving it otherwise. In his submission to the Committee, Mr. Sesay also claimed that he did all he could to ensure that the procurement process was strictly compliant with World Bank regulations and that he had nothing to do with the Contract award process, which was handled entirely by the Project Coordinator.
In the end, the Committee noted that all of the allegations came almost entirely from Shaun. Apart from the secret recording at Dee’s Bazaar, which all of those connected with it denied, the Committee was presented with no real direct evidence of corruption. Mr. Saquee confirmed attendance by Mr. Mani Koroma and Mr. Sei of the Dee’s meeting, but not corruption.
Consequently, the Committee has found it hard to substantiate these claims. The recording at Dee’s Bazaar may be authentic, but apart from the rumblings of Mr Sheku Sei, no one admitted to receiving money in the recording. If anything, it is Shaun who admitted to offering Le22,000,000 (or US$5,000) to Mr. Saidu Sesay as a “facilitation fee”, which he says is quite acceptable in US law but which could be a criminal offence in the jurisdiction of Sierra Leone where the act occurred.
On the issue of whether the alleged corruption had an impact on the Project, the Committee was of the view that even if it is true that the Consultant had parted with US$10,000 (ten thousand dollars) of the Project funds as alleged, in the grand scheme of things that amount was quantitatively insignificant to derail the Project when only 30% of the initial disbursement was spent on Project activities.
Moreover, allegations of a Ministry conspiracy to undermine Contract delivery due to Shaun’s failure to pay bribes are contrived. The allegations are not supported by any real evidence. The quality of both of GGI’s reports was poor and Dr Sankoh’s failure to make Annex B available may have been due only to incompetence, inexperience or naiveté.
3.11 Role of World Bank Officers and Consultants
The evidence submitted to the Committee suggests that World Bank approach to project funding in the case of the WARFP-SL Project differed significantly from years of familiarity that Ministry officials had with International Donor-funded projects.
Firstly, the Committee noted that there were delays on the part of the World
Bank in granting the
No Objection to the opening of the financial proposals. This compounded the
Secondly, the manner in which the Project was funded gave rise to the concern that the Ministry was often constrained by World Bank funding conditions. In particular, World Bank insistence on the recruitment of non-Civil Servants as Project staff gave rise to the unfortunate situation in which the Project failed to elicit the total cooperation of Ministry Officials.
Thirdly, the attempt by Stephen Akester, a World Bank Consultant to the Project, to negotiate a different contract with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute behind the back of GGI, who were their sub-contractors, left much to be desired. The Committee viewed this action as “unethical” and “unprofessional”, even though it may have been well-intentioned and meant to rescue the Project. And In any case, Akester’s proposal to WHOI was only one of a number of options he wanted to explore. In fact, it is not clear whether or not he was doing that on behalf of the WB.
3.12 Institutional Response to Corruption Allegations
i) Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources
In the wake of rancour over allegations of corruption in the execution of the Project, the Ministry did nothing to investigate or report the allegations. The Civil Service Code, Regulations & Rules is clear about how matters of this nature should be handled. Instead, the Ministry was content with merely requesting Shaun to put his allegations in writing (which Shaun failed to do until the release of the Timelines Report) or requesting for a copy of the WB investigation report.
ii) World Bank
The World Bank conducted a private investigation into the matter but did not make a copy of its report available to the Ministry. However, the WB has informed this Committee that they shared their report with the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Finance & Economic Development (MoFED).
iii) The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC)
The ACC also investigated the matter and its investigators have apparently
prosecutorial opinion. However, the ACC is reported to be seeking assistance or
The Committee was informed that at the request of the Consultant, the Central Bank conducted an investigation into the issue of a 2nd Bank Guarantee, which the Consultant believed had been signed by the Ministry and the Rokel Commercial Bank without his knowledge. The Committee did not receive a copy of the report of this investigation. It is quite conceivable, however, that based on evidence received from RCB officers, the Central Bank, like this Disciplinary Committee, was able to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that no second Bank Guarantee was negotiated or signed by the Ministry in respect of the GGI Contract other than the one obtained by the Consultant himself. They may, therefore, have decided to drop the matter.
v) US Embassy
Upon receiving information on the termination of the Contract and the allegations of corruption, the US Embassy intervened by referring the matter to the Office of the President for action on behalf of Mr. Shaun Gause, a US citizen.
vi) Office of the President
Following an emergency meeting convened at State House on Thursday, 16th July, 2015 on the above matter, H.E the President directed that the Public Service Commission institutes an Administrative Inquiry into the matter. This report is the culmination of the Office of the President’s intervention in the matter. Shaun’s suggestion in his Timeline Report, therefore, that “there seems to be no intention to follow due process by any authority in Sierra Leone” is an exaggeration. Even farther from the truth is Shaun’s suggestion, during his telephone evidence submission to this Committee, that no action has been taken because it involved a member of the President’s family. Nevertheless, the time it has taken for action to be initiated may be unacceptably long; hence Shaun’s despondency and conjectures.
4. DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINDINGS
Having elicited such comprehensive and detailed evidence on all aspects of the Project, and mindful of its Terms of Reference, the Committee proceeded to assess the implications of its findings. As part of that process, and to enable them to distil essential recommendations, Committee members were able to express their views, opinions, interpretations and conclusions against the background of the evidence available to them. The guiding principle, as noted in Section 2.4 above, is believable or a preponderance of evidence rather than the rules governing legal proceedings.
The process also enabled the Committee to identify those issues with a misconduct dimension and determine whether the misconduct was committed by an officer in the employment of the Government of Sierra Leone.
4.1 Project management and coordination
The Committee noted that while lessons can be drawn from the issue of WB policy on Project staffing and reporting, this did not involve any form of misconduct on the part of GoSL officers. It simply suggests that the Project was beleaguered at birth and may well have encountered problems in the long run. Whether this would have been the outcome of deliberate undermining of the Project by MFMR staff, interference by WB Consultants or a direct consequence of the inbuilt tension in the Project management and implementation process is difficult to fathom. It is, however, doubtful to the Committee whether there would have been any transfer of skills and capacities from the PIU to the Ministry.
4.2 Procurement process
On the other hand, the issue of the conduct of GoSL officers in the procurement
attracted immense attention from Committee members. Having reviewed all the
The original Procurement Committee, which was very broad-based and inclusive, had been dissolved on the instructions of the Hon. Minister to give way to a Reconstituted Committee comprised more or less entirely of Ministry officials, save for the representative of the Financial Secretary.
While it is true that two technical experts had been co-opted by the Project Coordinator for the technical evaluation phase, this had the effect simply of disguising the absence of a neutral and impartial process. The fact is that the competing interests in the process rendered the result subject to a predetermined outcome. It is quite conceivable that GGI may have won the contract on its merit. However, the revelations of manipulation in the procurement process meant that the Contract may have been awarded to the wrong bidder. Either way, this casts considerable doubt on the outcome. For that Mr. Sei, the confessor, is almost entirely to blame. The Committee had no evidence to prove anything he said about his colleagues or the Minister. But the issue of alleged vested interests in the procurement, which clouded the entire Contract was, in the view of the Committee, certainly problematic.
4.3 The Contract award process
The Committee’s view is that the due diligence process was weak and patchy, due largely to the Project Coordinator’s limited experience in this area. Moreover, the Bank Guarantee issue revealed that the Ministry awarded a Contract to a Company whose financial credentials were weak, which a more thorough due diligence process could have revealed. Securing the Bank Guarantee caused huge delays to the commencement of the EIA Studies and had a direct link to the Project’s eventual collapse. However, despite the allegations by Mr. Sei in the secret recording that Dr Sankoh’s preferred firm for the contract was Worley Parsons, the Committee was of the view that the poor handling of the due diligence process was in no way linked to ulterior motives of corruption.
Similar inexperience on the part of the Project Coordinator was also demonstrated on the issue of the No-Objection from the WB for Contract award. Whereas the World Bank did give a clear No-Objection to the report of the technical evaluation, the delay in the WB giving a No-Objection to the opening of the Financial Proposals and Contract award was curious. When WB No-Objection eventually came, it was misread by the Project Coordinator to mean licence to both open the Financial Proposals and then award of the Contract.
A more experienced Project Coordinator would have known that the opening of the Financial Proposals was a separate process to Contract award, and should have sought a separate No-Objection for the latter despite the delay. Quite predictably, the World Bank in the end is reported to have disowned the approval for Contract award to GGI.
Again, similar Project management naivete was displayed on the issue of Annex B. The Contract required availing Annex B to the Contractor. The view of the Committee is that whether or not provisions in Annex B had been incorporated into the Contract itself, availing a copy of Annex B required no extra effort or cost. However, having studied carefully the contents of Annex B – essentially payment terms and reporting - the Committee’s view is that its availability would have made no difference to the Contractor or the implementation of the Contract. The payment terms and reporting schedule were already embedded in the Contract.
The Committee, therefore, dismisses as unfounded Shaun’s claims in his Timelines Report that Annex B was deliberately withheld from him to undermine his reporting ability, quality or compliance with WB requirements, and that somehow this was linked to a grand design by Ministry officials to extort money from him.
4.4 Issue of the Bank Guarantee
The issue of the Bank Guarantee suggests that it is doubtful if GGI had any assets anywhere at all, both within and outside Sierra Leone. If GGI did, then these resources were not mobilized for the purposes of securing a Bank Guarantee for the EIA studies. The result was a withholding of 40% of liquid funds meant for the implementation of the first one-half of the Project. This is because the next 20% was not due to be paid until the middle of the Project and in arrears, as opposed to top-up payment. By implication, the 20% should have been pre-financed by a Contractor who had no access to 40% of the first one-third disbursement and who depended on the Project for every dollar including, it appears, resources to re-settle his family. In the view of the Committee, what compounded the financial crisis of GGI was not simply the fact that by virtue of the terms of the Bank Guarantee the Contractor had no access to 40% of the initial one-third disbursement, catastrophic as this would seem.
GGI’s failure to deploy all of the remaining 60% on Project activities made it difficult, if not impossible, for GGI to muster the financial capacity adequate to undertake the level of personnel and equipment mobilisation for the EIA studies that would have ensured the achievement of deliverables within the timelines of the Contract schedule. The evidence is that about 70% of the US$94,860 (ie 60% of US$158,100) available to GGI was used on non-Project related activities.
Shaun has attempted to seek an alibi under his postulation that there was a premeditated Ministry plan to terminate his Contract if he did not provide bribes, pointing to what he believed was their dubious behaviour in securing an under-cover second Bank Guarantee without his knowledge. However, this has been laid bare by officers from Rokel Commercial Bank. The latter were unequivocal that not only would securing a second Bank Guarantee have been illogical and unnecessary, it would also have been out of step with acceptable Bank practice.
This may also explain why the Governor of the Central Bank, to whom Shaun had written in protest and who investigated the matter of the Bank Guarantee, took no action against RCB.
Of interest to the Committee was the role of Ministry officials in the Bank Guarantee saga. In the secret recording, and in reaction to hearing of Shaun’s inability to rapidly secure a bank guarantee from RCB, Mr Sei boasts about Mr Mani Koroma’s connections with Bank Managers, to the point of asserting that Mr. Koroma literally owned banks in Freetown and could have sorted out the issue of the Bank Guarantee in half an hour. Shaun’s claim that Messrs Sei, Koroma and Sesay made last minute desperate attempts to help him (Shaun) secure a Bank Guarantee through First International Bank (FIB) was corroborated by an eye witness in the person of Mr. Tamba Saquee. Therefore, although all three denied the allegations, the Committee, on a balance of probability, was inclined to believe Shaun’s version of events.
4.5 Allegations of corruption
Allegations of corruption came almost entirely from Shaun, and consisted of two broad strands: first, that the Project failed because Ministry officials extorted money from him (Shaun), with Shaun admitting in evidence that he personally gave US$10,000 to Mr. Mani Koroma; and second, that Annex B, which contained the Contractor’s reporting obligations, was deliberately withheld from GGI as part of a grand strategy by Ministry officials to derail the Project if he (Shaun) failed to pay the requested bribes – running to the tune of US$75,000.
Speaking to the Committee by phone from the US and in the presence of his Attorney (Jack Camp), Shaun alleged that the entire management of the EIA Contract was riddled with corruption from start to finish. This is also the central theme of the Timelines Report. After examining all the evidence available to it, the Committee came to the conclusion that there was indeed an attempt to extort money from Shaun.
Mr. Sei’s elaborate references (in the secret recording of the Dee’s Bazaar meeting) to the several attempts he (Mr. Sei) had made to collect money from Shaun on behalf of Ministry officials is a clear indication of this and would appear to incriminate several people in the Ministry. The Committee could not confirm the exact amount involved other than the reference to about US$75,000 made in Shaun’s Timelines Report. The Committee accepts that the Dee’s Bazaar recording was authentic and when compared to the Committee’s recording of its own proceedings, there was consensus that the voices in the recording were those of Shaun, Mr Sei and Mr Mani Koroma. This was confirmed to the Committee by an eye witness, Mr. Tamba Saquee. Furthermore, and by his own admission to the Committee, Shaun parted with only US$10,000 in the end, which he (Shaun) allegedly gave to Mr. Mani Koroma but which the latter has categorically denied under oath.
On the issue of allegations of corruption against Ministry officials, save for the contents of the secret recording, the Committee could not substantiate this claim due to lack of direct evidence linking anyone in the Ministry to bribery. The main thrust of the discussion at Dee’s Bazaar was the elaborate but unsuccessful efforts Mr. Sei confessed to have made on behalf of the entire Ministry to collect money from Shaun as payment to Ministry officials for having ensured that GGI won the Contract. However, references to money being given or changing hands have not been evidenced. Everyone in the Ministry has denied Shaun’s allegations and everything Mr. Sei said in relation to them. As the Committee could prove nothing, what we have are unsubstantiated allegations. The only believable evidence available to the Committee is Mr. Sei’s own claims about himself and Shaun’s admission that he paid US$10,000 to Mr. Mani Koroma as a facilitation fee.
On the issue of Annex B, as noted above, the Committee’s view is that its availability would have made no difference to the Contractor. The payment terms and reporting schedule were already embedded in the contract. The Committee, therefore, dismisses as unfounded Shaun’s claims in his Timelines Report that Annex B was deliberately withheld from him to undermine his reporting ability, quality or compliance with WB requirements, and that somehow this was linked to a grand design by Ministry officials to extort money from him.
4.6 Contractor’s performance and Contract termination
The Committee recognised that the Project encountered several challenges:
delays in Project commencement and problematic Project management and
i) Weak Financial Base of Contractor:
It was the considered view of the Committee that even though it was not required to pre-finance, GGI didn’t have the financial capacity to undertake the Project in the absence of a single dollar from the Ministry. GGI had no collateral of its own and needed help in securing even a Bank Guarantee, even when such a Guarantee would require GGI to surrender 40% of initial Project funds as collateral in order to ensure Project take-off. A 20% pre-financing was implicit in the Contract because while 30% top up payment had been made, the next payment of 20% was due only midway through the project (ie by 13th August 2013) and after the submission of a satisfactory Mid-Term Report.
At a meeting on the 28th of October, 2013, the Consultant categorically stated that his company could not do any more work on the EIA studies unless the Ministry paid another 20% of Contract fees. Also, GGI desperately sought to ensure that Rokel Commercial Bank released funds that it was holding as collateral. It became obvious to the Project Coordinator and Ministry officials that GGI was not financially capable of continuing with the Studies. With the unsatisfactory reports, the Ministry was left with no option but to consider termination of the Contract without further delay.
ii) Poor Financial Management:
While it is true that the Contract did not
require GGI to report on
Project expenses, it was appropriate and reasonable to expect that an
like GGI should be prudent in its use of Project resources. However, there was
no evidence of
proper financial management of the initial disbursement made to GGI. A careful
look at the
Consultant’s breakdown of expenditure of these funds leaves much to be desired
for a company
which clearly had problems mobilising its own financial and logistical resources
to undertake the
It is the view of the Committee that if the Consultant had used all of the 60%
of the first
disbursement of US$158,100 for its intended purpose, he may have been able to
iii) Poor Performance/Delivery:
The Committee studied carefully the Terms of Reference of the Project, Delivery Timelines, Payment Schedule and Reporting Obligations. The Committee was left in no doubt that there were problems of performance/delivery on the part of the Contractor. Firstly, from the various comments and assessments made by both Ministry and WB officials, it appears the Inception and Mid-Term Reports were truly less than satisfactory, even after comments were provided by the Project Coordinator and the WB. Secondly, there was little evidence that the recommended suggestions for improvement were adequately addressed, accepted or incorporated into the final documents by GGI. In fact, confronted with evidence of such a poor Inception Report, the Committee wondered why the Ministry continued with the GGI Consultancy beyond that stage. This is because from the Committee’s assessment of the draft and final versions, very few improvements were made to the Inception Report as recommended by the Project Coordinator. GGI invested little time and expertise to reflect the comments, but both the Ministry and the WB seemed to have given GGI the benefit of the doubt and proceeded to the Mid-Term Report. This was a colossal mistake. After all, the Ministry had evidence that the delivery of the Bank Guarantee challenged GGI enormously, since it was never negotiated in a timely manner.
This explains why, on reflection, the Project Coordinator admitted during his second appearance before the Committee that he regrets they had awarded the Contract to “a poor company”. Moreover, there was the fact that GGI did not meet the timelines for delivery of the various activities agreed in the Contract. Payment schedules in the Contract document were meanwhile based on deliverables. As a result, the Ministry was justified in insisting that no further payment should be made to GGI until a satisfactory Mid-Term Report was delivered.
On the issue of the quality and timeliness of delivery of the reports, therefore, the Committee found little evidence that GGI sufficiently mobilised the expertise of its consultants to ensure that they had maximum impact on the Project. Prof. Hauke Kite-Powell informed the Committee by email that WHOI was actively involved in the project and had a leading role in the preparation of both the Inception and Mid-Term Reports. However, Robert A. Catalano of Woods Hole Group admitted that despite being contracted to undertake several assignments as part of the EIA Contract, they “actually never performed any of the activities due to not ever sending personnel to Sierra Leone as a result of contractual payment issues”.
In his email to the Committee, Robert further confirmed that Woods Hole Group is owed US$20,000 incurred in shipping to Sierra Leone and recovering after one year unused equipment intended for use in the Project.
iv) Ministry and WB Conspiracy:
Shaun made elaborate allegations about Ministry
conspiring to derail the contract if he did not pay bribes and WB officials
having vested interest
in hiring an alternative firm to execute the Contract. The contents of the
conversation between Shaun and Mr. Sei at Dee’s Bazaar would seem to support
Indeed, the Committee noted that there were errors of judgement, unprofessional
and poor cooperation and coordination within the Ministry that may lend credence
allegations of a Ministry conspiracy. However, there is no real direct evidence
to prove Shaun’s
allegations of a conspiracy, rendering unsustainable his claim that the
unsatisfactory rating of
the Mid-Term Report was as a result of improper motives on the part of some
World Bank Officials. While attempts by Stephen Akester to engage GGI’s
behind the back of GGI was ethically and professionally repugnant, the Committee
that it was a desperate attempt to generate options that would have rescued the
4.7 Implications for Rokel Commercial Bank and GoSL
On the Ministry’s termination of the Contract and request for a repayment of the initial 30% the Ministry had paid to GGI, Rokel Commercial Bank was obliged to repay the claims, including the $5,000 (Five thousand US dollars) paid as legal fees to the Ministry’s Legal Representative. As RCB had held only 40% of the funds as collateral (instead of 100%), the remaining 60% represented a financial risk to which it had exposed itself after accepting to give the Bank Guarantee to GGI on the recommendation of its Guarantor, Mr. D.F Shears. The Indemnity Bank Guarantee signed by the Guarantor, however, provided full cover and reduced the level of risk and exposure by RCB. As a result of this, RCB has been able to recoup a total of Le350,000,000 (Three hundred and Fifty Thousand Leones) of this money, Le78,000,000 (Seventy Eight Million Leones) remaining for which, as reported to the Committee by RCB officials, the Guarantor has requested to be given more time to pay.
The implications of this for both RCB and GoSL are important. RCB is wholly owned by the Government of Sierra Leone and any loss to it represents a loss to the State. Secondly, weak lending practices have adversely affected the capacity of RCB to grow and become a viable source of financial stability for the Government. In 2014 RCB, along with another wholly GoSL owned bank, Sierra Leone Commercial Bank, had to be recapitalised by Government.
4.8 Implications for the Consultant and Guarantor
It was on the basis of the go(o)d standing of the Guarantor that the Consultant received the Bank Guarantee. It goes without gainsaying, therefore, that if the Consultant failed to perform and had no collateral sufficient to enable the Bank recoup all of its money, the onus falls on the Guarantor to discharge the obligation. RCB has, therefore, acted appropriately in seeking recompense from Mr. D F Shears, the Guarantor.
As far as the Contractor is concerned, it is the view of the Committee that
contrary to the
assertion of Shaun that GGI stuck to the terms of the contract, the major causal
4.9 Implications for the Government and People of Sierra Leone
As a result of the reported anomalies in the implementation of the Project, the World Bank is reported to have withdrawn its support for the Project and requested the repayment of the initial funds bequeathed to the Ministry for the EIA Studies. As a consequence, and in respect of Government’s determination to maintain its relationship with its Donor Partners, MoFED is reported to have paid back the $158,100 to the World Bank. This represents a major setback to Government’s development aspirations under the Agenda for Prosperity. The WARPF–SL Project represented a US$28 million investment which would have transformed the Fisheries sector and contributed immensely to the economic development of the country.
The failure of the EIA Studies and the withdrawal by the World Bank from the Project is, therefore, as unfortunate as it is consequential for the development of the nation. We note that this is only one of several WB projects in Sierra Leone under investigation. In 2015 alone, GoSL is reported to have paid out a total of Le25 billion to Donor agencies, including the WB, due to otherwise illegal or ineligible expenditure by Government functionaries implementing Donor projects. All of these payments represent significant losses to the Government and people of Sierra Leone. This is in addition to the reputational damage to Sierra Leone, which could affect future Donor negotiations and projects.
In the aftermath of the very comprehensive evidence on all aspects of the EIA
available to it, and the critical but impartial and dispassionate analysis of
the findings, the
5.1 Action by Senior Civil Service Management (Head of Civil Service/DG, HRMO)
i) Mr. Sheku Sei
Although Mr Sei denies attending the Dee’s Bazaar meeting, the Committee adduced sufficient evidence to believe that he did. This is predicated on the eye witness account of Mr Tamba Saquee and a comparison of the secret recording of that meeting and the electronic recoding of the proceedings of this inquiry. On the basis of this, the Committee found that Mr. Sei incontrovertibly self-implicated himself by admitting involvement in the corrupt and illegal practice of manipulation of procurement processes against existing legislation and established rules and procedures.
The Committee, therefore, recommends that since criminal matters are outside the scope of the PSC, the Anti-Corruption Commission is encouraged to accelerate the pace of its investigation into the matter and press charges if necessary.
However, Mr Sei also implicated himself in the highly unprofessional and
dishonest behaviour of
seeking rent for the underhand services he provided to GGI and for making
The Committee, therefore, recommends that as an interim measure, Mr. Sheku Sei be suspended for an indefinite period without pay to allow the ACC complete its investigation into the matter. This period of suspension will be kept under review and the Committee shall reconvene at a later date to determine an appropriate and conclusive course of action after the conclusion of the ACC process.
ii) Mr. Mani Koroma
The Committee found no direct evidence anywhere to substantiate Shaun’s
allegations that he
gave Mr. Mani Koroma US$10,000 and Mr. Sei’s allegations in the secret recording
Koroma was complicit in manipulating the procurement process. Mr. Koroma denies
allegations. However, if proven, the giving of a bribe by Shaun and its
acceptance by Mr.
Meanwhile, from the eye witness account of Mr. Tamba Saquee and a comparison of the secret recording at the Dee’s Bazaar and the recording of the Committee’s own proceedings, the Committee believes that despite his denial, Mr. Mani Koroma went to the Dee’s Bazaar meeting. He did so at the invitation of Mr. Sheku Sei who was his junior officer, at very short notice, and to discuss official matters in a social setting. In line with Regulation 11.4 (i) and (x) of the Civil Service Code, Regulations and Rules, this is misconduct on the part of Mr. Koroma and an error of judgement for an officer of his rank. For this reason, the Committee recommends that he is severely reprimanded as an interim measure pending the outcome of the ACC process.
iii) Remediation of administrative deficiencies in the handling of matters of misconduct in MDAs
The Civil Service Code, Regulations and Rules (Chapter 11 – Discipline) is very clear on the definition, types and procedure for the handling of misconduct. In the case of the Ministry of Fisheries & Marine Resources, no investigation was instituted following allegations by the Contractor that Ministry officials had engaged in acts of corruption, although this may have been due to the Consultant’s failure to put the allegations in writing as requested by the Honourable Minister. It took His Excellency the President’s intervention to ensure the establishment of this Administrative Inquiry on the matter.
This is true of most Ministries, Departments & Agencies (MDAs). A disciplinary inquiry by the PSC can only be triggered at the level of the MDA through a formal report of an incident or investigation to the Director-General of HRMO. Through a combination of incompetence, negligence, collusion and inertia, Administrative Heads of MDAs fail to take necessary action or follow the disciplinary procedure laid down in the Civil Service Code by escalating the matter to HRMO and then PSC. This has bred a culture of impunity across the Service, leading to public cynicism about the ability or willingness of Civil Service managers to enforce discipline.
The Committee recommends that rapid remedial action is taken by the Senior Management of the Civil Service to address such management deficiencies in MDAs in the handling of matters of misconduct. This can be done through awareness raising, training and taking disciplinary action against managers who fail to take action against offending subordinate officers. This is provided for in Regulation 11:4(q) of the Civil Service Code, Regulations & Rules. Furthermore, the Committee recommends that in the long run, a review of the procedures in the Civil Service Code be undertaken to enable direct intervention by the Senior Management of the Service and/or the PSC in instances where action failed to be taken by the MDA.
iv) Manpower overhaul in the Ministry of Fisheries & Marine Resources
In his submission to the Committee, Mr. Sheku Sei drew the Committee’s attention to the fact that he has not been promoted since joining the Civil Service 15 years ago. The Committee has also been made aware of the dearth of manpower and the irregularities in the internal nomenclature used in the professional wing of the Ministry. This has given rise not only to overdependence by a succession of Ministers on the services and loyalty of a couple of officers, but also to great confusion in the progression order. The anomaly of Mr. Sei’s position is only a case in point. Furthermore, this is a good example of a Ministry where staff had, since the 1970s, grown accustomed to significant remuneration for Project work. As such the likelihood of non-cooperation in the face of the WB standard policy on the staffing of PIUs was extremely high.
The Committee views this situation as unacceptable and recommends a thorough review and complete overhaul by PSC and HRMO of the staffing situation in that Ministry with a view to enhancing its capacity, rectifying the nomenclature disorder and streamlining the progression order. This can be achieved through succession planning, open and merit-based recruitment, promotions and training.
5.2 Action by GoSL and Donor Partners on PIUs
The management and coordination debacle between MFMR and the Fisheries Management & Coordination Office (FMCO) established for the World Bank project has brought to the fore the dilemma of Project Implementation Units (PIUs) in MDAs. Apart from confused reporting lines, communication problems and constant tensions between the Ministries and the PIUs - with severe deleterious consequences for Ministry cohesion and coordination - there is little evidence of serious knowledge transfer from PIUs to Ministries.
The outcome of this unacceptable situation is a Service-wide move to mainstream staff of PIUs (known as Local Technical Assistants or LTAs) that were originally intended to be a transient capacity building and skills transfer support to the Ministries. This has been highly controversial for a number of reasons: discrepancies in grades and remuneration packages between LTAs and normal Civil Servants; reporting and coordination problems; the difficulty of adopting a standard policy on the issue of LTAs; and the non-involvement of the PSC in the recruitment of LTAs. The Committee, therefore, recommends that GoSL and Donor Partners, in particular the WB, revisit the whole issue of PIUs as a matter of urgency.
5.3 Action by the World Bank on policy of non-engagement of Civil Servants
Linked to the above is the Committee’s view that the WB approach to staffing PIUs invites serious consideration for reform. It is standard WB policy not to engage Civil Servants on their projects. This often causes disenchantment, tension and minimal cooperation from Ministry officials, as evident in the case of MFMR. Other Donors, on the other hand, are not averse to engaging Civil Servants in the implementation of their Projects. In the case of MFMR, the NEPAD and AfDB projects utilised Ministry officials and implementation was reported to be very smooth. Ministry staff have been implementing GIZ Projects, with additional apy, for over 25 years. In fact, to rectify what appeared like a flaw in the WB Project, Ministry officials who served as Focal Persons in the WARFP-SL Project had to be incentivised with funds from the NEPAD and AfDB projects, ironically facilitated by Mr. Sheku Sei.
The Committee, therefore, recommends that the WB aligns or harmonises its policy
in this area
with that of other Donors to minimise disruption and secure greater support for
5.4 Action against Contractor and Guarantor
The evidence from the Inquiry is conclusive that the Contract was terminated due
unsatisfactory performance by the Contractor. The reasons for the poor
nothing to do with the Contractor’s team of consultants. After all, GGI had
drafted in the
participation of world renowned experts in this area. To blame was the
financial management and his failure to sufficiently mobilise the expertise of
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Woods Hole Group and Coastal Environments to
The Committee, therefore, recommends that as it cannot be trusted to deliver on
important Project, GGI be added to a blacklist of firms unfit to hold a
Government of Sierra
5.5 Action by the Anti-Corruption Commission
As indicated in sub-sections (i) and (ii) of Section 5.1 above, the evidence submitted to the Committee points in the direction of prima facie flouting of the procurement law, regulations and procedures as confessed by Mr. Sheku Sei. There is also the illegal giving of US$10,000 to Mr. Mani Koroma as confessed by Shaun, which the former denies. These acts appear to have criminal implications judged against Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Act 2008.
The Committee, therefore, recommends that the Anti-Corruption Commission accelerates and concludes its investigation into the matter and if appropriate, prosecute on behalf of the State.
Any conviction for criminal offence will take precedence over any other recommendations made by this Committee in respect of Mr. Sei, Mr. Koroma and Shaun.
5.6 Action by Parliament
All Donor project funds classified as loans or grants should be declared to Parliament prior to project implementation in line with Section 18 of the Constitution of Sierra Leone, Act No. 6 of 1991. Thereafter, Parliament only has an oversight role. The Committee recommends, therefore, that Parliament’s oversight role over especially Donor projects in Sierra Leone be strengthened through adequate logistical support and training.
This Administrative Inquiry took place almost two years after the event of the termination of the GGI Contract. In the meantime, the WB has suspended the Project and the Contractor has since left the shores of Sierra Leone. Taking action this late, and only at the behest of the President, gives the unfortunate impression that there is little determination in Sierra Leone to take action against Civil Servants when things go wrong.
Be that as it may, it is always better late than never. The Disciplinary Committee is, therefore, grateful for His Excellency’s intervention and Directive, and hopes that appropriate action will be taken on the recommendations of this Report. This would send out a clear message that misconduct in the Civil Service can no longer be tolerated.
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