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Sierra Leone investigates alleged misuse of emergency Ebola funds - News - Nursesarena Forum

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Sierra Leone investigates alleged misuse of emergency Ebola funds by Idowu Olabode : February 19, 2015, 04:40:13 AM
Sierra Leone’s anti-corruption commission has launched an investigation into allegations of corruption following a damning report on the use of the government’s emergency Ebola funds. It has called on 40 individuals, including high-profile medical officials and local leaders, to report to its offices immediately with documentation to show how the funds were disbursed.

A government spokesman said the list of names was released on Tuesday as part of an independent investigation into the auditor’s report which found that a third of taxpayers’ money allocated to the Ebola fight between May and October 2014 was not properly accounted for.

“Allegations of corruption, we take very seriously. The perception of corruption is not good for the image of the country,” he said.

They have been told to report “with immediate effect” and to“bring along documents in respect of the management of Ebola funds”.

The head of the Health for All Coalition, Charles Mambu, received six cheques made out to him instead of the organisation, according to the national auditors report.

Among others on the list are the country’s chief nursing officer, the district medical officer for Bombali, the home district of the president, and the former permanent secretary at the ministry of health.

All medical officers for each of the country’s 14 districts would be interviewed, the commission said.

Its investigation follows a report that showed a third of taxpayers’ money allocated to the Ebola fight last summer was not properly accounted for.

The report found inadequate controls over the disbursement of funds and said some hazard payments had been made to hospitals with no proof the money was actually going to the health workers on the frontline.

In some cases, there had been a “complete disregard for the law” in procurement.These undocumented losses may have slowed the country’s emergency response to the Ebola outbreak and may have led to unnecessary loss of life,the authors said.

Government spokesman Abdulai Bayraytay said that as part of strict anti-corruption laws, the commission was “obliged to conduct its own independent investigation” into the auditor’s report.

It also had its own “prosecutorial powers” and did not have to wait for a request from the government to investigate.

“We will support all the institutions that continue to bring accountability to the government,” he said

Bayraytay said the country’s economy had been “flying high” before Ebola struck and had become a destination for foreign inward investment and it needed to reassure the outside world that there was “no tolerance of corruption whatsoever”.

The report by Sierra Leone’s auditor general looked at 84bnleones (£12m) the government set aside for fighting the virus from the start of the outbreak last May until October 2014.

The money came primarily from institutions and individuals donating from mostly within Sierra Leone and from tax revenue.

Some money from the government’s emergency health response account had no supporting documents to substantiate how it was spent and some spending was missing corresponding receipts and invoices.

“It is clear from our audit that there continue to be lapses in the financial management system in Sierra Leone,” the report said.

Source:  UK Guardian

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