''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 9 No 1

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

Contact us
World Cup with the BBC
UK Serious Fraud Office
World Association for Human Rights - USA
National Union of Journalists (UK)
BBC African Service
Daily Trust of Nigeria
UN Great Lakes
Writer Adichie
Southwark Council
S.L. Web
All Africa.com
Africa Week
Human Rights Watch
Amnesty International
Trial Watch
International Criminal Court
One World
Royal African Society
University of
East London
Nigeria Anti Corruption Commission
Institute for Democracy in Africa
archive 6
archive 7
archive 8
archive 9
archive 10






1.  Inadequate Financial/Accounting system in operation 

The following were observed:

Accounting records and books such as Revenue, Expenditure and Balancing Cash Books were not maintained;

Monthly Bank Reconciliations were not properly carried out;

There were instances where a number of expenditures were supported by a single Payment Voucher;

The Embassy maintained one Bank Account to cover Consular, Other Charges and Salaries; and

Although the system of accounting and control had improved in the Embassy, the knowledge of the staff in Government Financial and other

relevant legislations/regulations was found to be limited. 

We therefore recommended that: 

The Finance Officer should on a monthly basis reconcile the Cash Book with the Bank Statement and discrepancies, if any, should be investigated;

With immediate effect, the Finance Officer should ensure that Revenue, Expenditure and Balancing Cash Books must be maintained and regularly updated; and

The HOC should open two separate accounts - a Consular Account and Other Charges and Salary Account.

2.   Use of Consular Fees without prior approval  

     The following were observed; 

An examination of the consular records and receipt books disclosed that amounts totalling US$ 2,057,690, were collected as Visa Fees for the period under review.

Out of this, only a meagre sum of US$175,000 was transferred to the Consolidated Fund or paid to the Government of Sierra Leone for the period under review;

Two withdrawals  of US$165,500 and US$180,000 were authorized by the MOFED for the  rehabilitation of the Chancery and Residence; and

The balance of US$1,537,690 was used to cover other types of expenditure without prior approval from the Ministries of OFED and FAIC. 

The following were recommended: 

The MOFED should put a mechanism in place so that Consular Fees paid into a separate special Government Foreign Bank Account would be outside the

control and management of the Embassy staff;

In future, Consular income must not be utilised, under any circumstance, without the prior approval of MOFED and MFAIC.

The HOC was to ensure that Consular Fees were remitted within a reasonable time; and

The HOC was asked to explain why the balance of US$1.5 million was used without prior approval and produce evidence of how that amount of money was utilized;

otherwise it should be refunded to revenue.

3.    Differences in the payment of salaries & wages  

     The following were observed; 

An examination of the Salary Vouchers and other records disclosed that salaries were not signed for as received by the Domestic staff; 

The names of eight (8) former employees of the Embassy were still on the Salary Vouchers even though they had been replaced; and 

An examination of paid-up Salary and Wages Vouchers and records revealed differences totalling US$242,970, for the period January, 2007 to December, 2010. 

Also, no evidence was produced to confirm that the differences were paid to the Consolidated Revenue Fund or to indicate how they were utilized. 

We therefore recommended that, with immediate effect, Domestic Staff should sign or initial the Salaries/Wages Vouchers as evidence of receipt of their wages. 

We also urged the HOC to produce evidence of utilization of the differences; otherwise the amount involved should be refunded and details of receipt forwarded to

this office for verification. 

4.   Payment of children’s and education allowances to diplomatic staff  

      The following were observed: 

It was observed that Children’s Allowances were being paid arbitrarily. In some instances Children’s Allowances were paid to Diplomatic Staff not entitled to it;  

An examination of source documents and records revealed that six (6) children over 18 years were still benefiting from allowances to the tune of US$ 16,200.00; and 

Copies of Birth Certificates of children of some Diplomatic Staff were neither on file nor were they produced or made available to the auditor for inspection.  

It was strongly recommended that the HOC should ensure that Children’s Allowances were only paid to Diplomatic staff entitled to receive such allowances for

a maximum of three children under 18 years.  

We also urged that the HOC should have the officers concerned produce evidence of their children’s birth certificates; otherwise the amount involved

should be recovered and evidence of recovery forwarded to the Office of the Auditor General for verification.


5.     Staff health insurance and medical bills   

       The following were observed: 

There was no policy document developed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to properly manage or administer staff insurance;

There were scenarios where it was difficult to determine whether the cost of medical bills should either be reimbursed by the Embassy or whether it was

the responsibility of the Diplomatic Staff;  and

Refunds/Reimbursements amounting to US$23,369.95 were made to Diplomatic Staff in respect of medical expenses, even though Government was paying

the full insurance premium and Overseas Allowances to them.

   Our recommendations, therefore, were that:

With immediate effect, the MFAIC should develop a policy to address staff insurance and medical bills;    

The HOC should stop the payment of refunds of medical bills to Diplomatic Staff until the MFAIC regularised the anomaly; and

The HOC should produce evidence of authorization from the MFAIC for the payments of refunds of medical bills; otherwise the amounts involved should

be refunded and evidence of recovery forwarded to the Audit Service Sierra Leone for verification.  

6.    Local and overseas travelling  

      The following were observed: 

Local and Overseas Travelling cost had increased drastically owing to the frequency of travelling by staff  without authorisation even though there was

a policy that prior approval should be sought from the MFAIC;  

The Ambassadors regularly travelled accompanied by Home Based Staff;

Daily subsistence allowances disclosed that the adjustment mechanism of 45%, 35% and 25% was used in the computation of per diem for local travelling

amounting to US$25,458.00;

The auditor did not come across any evidence of approval from the MFAIC nor was there evidence of programme reports or ‘Back to Office’ Reports;           

   We therefore urged the HOC to explain why an approval was not sought from the MFAIC and requested evidence of Back to Office Reports of the programmes  attended. 

In addition, we requested the HOC to explain the reason for the use of the adjustment mechanism in the computation of allowances for local travels;

otherwise the amount of US$ 25,458 should be refunded to the CRF.  

7.   Use of Embassy funds for the payment of accommodation for presidential delegation 

It was observed that Embassy funds, totalling US$24,377.00 were used to cover accommodation and related expenses for the Presidential Delegation, even though per diem

was paid to the delegates and adequate provision made under the Office of the President’s budget allocation. We therefore recommended that the HOC should explain

why Embassy funds were used to cover the accommodation cost for the Presidential Delegates; otherwise the whole amount was to be refunded and evidence of

recovery forwarded by the Embassy to the Audit Service Sierra Leone Office for verification. 

8.  Rehabilitation of government properties  

    The following were observed: 

The property (Chancery and Residences) of the Embassy still remained uninsured;

A colossal amount of US$396,742 had been spent or utilised on the maintenance and rehabilitation of the Chancery & Residences;

The construction work at the Chancery was incomplete. There was still a lot of work to be done at the Chancery Building to bring it up to an insurable state or standard;

The Ground Floor of the Chancery Building was in a state of complete dilapidation. The electrical, plumbing, asbestos and elevators were damaged or worn out; and

An independent Certificate of Work done in respect of the maintenance and rehabilitation of the property was not produced for inspection to support payments made

for work carried out on the properties.  

   We recommended that; 

The MOFED should provide additional funds for the renovation of the Chancery Building to avoid possible litigation;

The HOC should secure an insurance cover for the residences to avoid total loss; and 

With immediate effect all maintenance work should be certified by an independent expert or personnel. 

9.   Fixed Assets/ Inventory Register  

It was observed that assets, costing US$146,174, at both the Chancery and Residences were not marked with a durable identification label or mark.

In addition, the Inventory Register was not properly maintained and details of acquisition, description and other relevant details were not recorded. 

    We recommended the following: 

All assets must receive an efficient and durable identification label or mark indicating the ordering number assigned to the them;

With immediate effect, the Embassy Inventory/Assets Register should be updated to give details of date of acquisition, cost, description, serial number,

additions and other relevant details; and

The HOC should ensure that assets belonging to the Embassy must have their existence checked periodically, as well as their state and condition,

and must be matched with the Assets and Inventory Registers which should be kept updated at all times.


10.   Loans Register not maintained

It was observed that the Embassy did not have a policy for its loans.  A Loans Register/record which should include the name of the borrower, the authority

for the amount so authorized, the due dates and amounts of repayments was not maintained by the Embassy for the period under review. 

It was recommended that a loans policy should be developed and implemented in order to enhance the management and control of loans. 

11.  General Observations 

      We observed the following; 

Wages of Local Staff were determined arbitrarily. It was observed that long serving employees continued to receive salaries far less than those newly recruited;

The wage scale was at variance with the practice in the Service. There were no records of incremental or level movement in the wage scale of local staff; and

Issues of non compliance with procurement Laws and Regulations were observed. Procurement plans were not prepared and a Procurement Committee

not established. In addition, contract documents did not cover clauses such as conditions of contract, advance payments, Performance Bond and Defect Liability period.



Yearning for the mother country?

The right choice is Kevin McPhilips Travel

©Sierra Herald 2002