The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) uses multi-prong approaches not only to convey anti-corruption messages but also to stimulate the participation of pillars of integrity to inculcate corruption prevention safeguards. In this regard, the ACC Southern Region Office has held a customized meeting with staff of commercial banks, microcredit institutions and some revenue generating public sector institutions.
In his statement at ACC’s Conference Hall, Bo Office, ACC Regional Manager, South, Musa J.B. Jawara, described the engagement as one of the Commission’s proactive drives to hold genuine conversation with financial institutions bothering on unethical practices and corruption matters. Mr Jawara said that though banks have instituted risk mitigating measures they are still susceptible to corruption. He said that corruption does not only compromise bank safety, it also undermines the development aspiration of a nation. He furthered that corruption damages the reputation of institutions and individuals.
The Regional Manager catalogued a number of corruption-related issues associated with bank operations, such as abuse of position and power to create false documents, forgery of customers’ signatures, using false accounting entries, conniving with customers to give out bad loans, using people who are not working in the bank to carry out acts of corruption.
He reminded banks and microcredit institutions personnel of corruption matters which the Commission has successfully investigated and prosecuted at the High Court of Sierra Leone for corruption related offences. Mr Jawara said that in 2013, staff of the National Revenue Authority (NRA) and Ecobank conspired to divert million of Leones paid by ADDAX Bioenergy Company to the Government into their personal accounts; and also of recent staff of the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) and Rokel Commercial Bank (RCB) were indicted by the ACC for corruption offences including misappropriation of billions of Leones belonging to EDSA. He warned them to stay off corruption because the amendments that were done in 2019 on the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 now oblige the court to demand for restitution aside the fine or imprisonment as it was the case in the EDSA matter.
Speaking at the meeting, ACC’s Senior Public Education Officer, Abdulai Saccoh acknowledged the significant contributions of financial institutions towards the growth of the country’s economy. Saccoh emphasized that banks are not only charged with the responsibility to provide customers with an essential service, but can also help to create capital and liquidity in the market. Saccoh admonished the participants to put the nation’s interest above personal aggrandizement by exhibiting high degree of patriotism and expose any persons who may seek their participation to divert public revenue. “Kindly share intelligence with the ACC on any suspected act of corruption, refrain from breach of any regulatory framework guiding your operations, abstain from requesting bribes to unsuspected customers who seek for loan,” he warned. He urged them to uphold the tenets of integrity, impartiality, professionalism in the discharge of their duties.
ACC’s Senior Regional Prevention Officer, Francis K. Lassayo underscored the significance of upholding integrity and ethics in the workplace. Mr. Lassayo said that people seem to confuse about the differences between ethics and integrity. He referred to ethics as an external system of rules and laws while integrity is an internal system of principles which guides human behavior. The Senior Regional Prevention Officer pointed out that many people do try to stay out of trouble only because the rules have been spelled out for them.
Public Education Officer Mohamed A. Kabba said the meeting was intended to increase the understanding the institutions on the provisions in the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019, explaining the contributions of financial institutions to tackle public revenue loss and to forge alliance with them to promote integrity, transparency and accountability in the handling of public and donor funds.
Examination and Compliance Officer of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) in Bo, Sundufu M. Koroma said the Anti-Money Laundry Act 2012 charges the institution amongst other functions to monitor, analysis, ensure prevention and compliance and informational cooperation and data exchange. Mr. Koroma said that money laundering undermines the economy, increases the risk of bank failures, damages country’s reputation, exposes people to drug trafficking, smuggling and other criminal activities and destabilizes livelihood. He affirmed the FIU’s commitment to working with the ACC to combat fraud and corruption.