The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), in January 2019, received a report alleging that Ambassador Osman Foday Yansaneh, Sierra Leone’s former High Commissioner to Ghana, who was also serving as Ambassador to Burkina Faso, and Togo, between 19th November, 2007, and 11th August, 2015, deliberately abandoned his duty station, whilst he was still designated as Ambassador and High Commissioner, and was mostly in Sierra Leone, but continued receiving salary and other emoluments.
Following this report, the ACC initiated investigations into allegations of Abuse of Office, and Misappropriation of Public Funds, both contrary to Sections 42 and 36(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2008, respectively.
Accordingly, various officials from the Accountant-General’s Office; the Finance Ministry; Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Sierra Leone’s High Commission in Ghana; and Ambassador Yansaneh himself, were interviewed.
The investigations, among other things, revealed the following:
That Ambassador Yansaneh was appointed High Commissioner to the Republic of Ghana on the 19th November 2007 and recalled on 11th August 2015;
That he was appointed Secretary General of the All People’s Congress (APC) in August 2013 while still in his post as ambassador;
Ambassador Yansaneh insists that his absence from post was at the behest of the Former President who wanted him to be in Sierra Leone for various reasons;
That he finally returned to Sierra Leone in January 2016 following the repatriation;
That during his tenure as Ambassador to Ghana, Ambassador Yansaneh was absent from his duty post for a total of 708 (seven hundred and eight days);
That during this period he was receiving full salaries, and the Head of Chancery, Mrs. Remoe-Doherty, was receiving full acting allowance for serving as Charge d’Affaire of the Embassy when Ambassador Yansaneh was away;
That the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation did not have any policy guidelines on the conduct of officers on foreign missions with regards absenteeism; and
That Ambassador Yansaneh received salary for the month of January 2016, after his end of mission in January 2016, as evidenced by the LCP, dated 31st January 2016, and did not receive any other salary after this period.
The investigations further exposed risky practices in the management of Public Funds; an absence of a systematic and appropriate monitoring of attendance; and the lack of functional standards in Sierra Leone’s foreign embassies and high commissions.
Consequently, we believe many foreign state employees have been taking advantage of the lack of policy guidelines militating against bad practices, including, but not limited to, staying away from their post for onerous periods, and continue receiving salaries; while other staff normal salaries receive hefty acting allowances in their places, leading government to serious unnecessary financial loss.
While the Commission finds this state of affairs a cause for concern and needs policy intervention, after due consideration of the statements obtained from various players, analysis of the legal and regulatory framework for foreign service, and the circumstances involved, the Commission has concluded that though the actions of Ambassador Yansaneh were clearly preposterous and a bad example for public service, the necessary evidential threshold required to proceed with prosecution has not been attained.
Therefore, in accordance with Section 7(f), (g), and, (h); and Section 8 of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2008, the ACC Prevention Department shall engage the Ministry and relevant stakeholders to discuss and plan for a system review with a view to not only avoiding such anomalies, but to also give clear guidelines and directives to deal with the aforesaid operational weaknesses in Sierra Leone’s Foreign Service.
The Commission wishes to reassure the public of its unshaken resolve to fight corruption at all levels.