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Sierra Leone News: Bank records, letters presented in Hajj-gate scandal

Anti- Corruption Commission Senior Investigation Officer, Joseph Bockarie Noah, on Wednesday 26 September 2018 tendered notices, bank transfers and financial authorisations involving the 2017 Hajj scandal. Noah said the documents from from Ecobank and Sierra Leone Commercial Bank were some of the transactions operated by the 2017 National Hajj Committee. The ACC witness pointed out the 15-page bank statements and 10-page bank statements were obtained from the two accounts at the banks operated by the 2017 Hajj Committee. In his testimony to the Court, Noah also stated that at Ecobank, the ACC discovered two joint accounts operated by Sheka Sahid Kamara, the first accused and his wife and a cash deposit of Le300 million and Le250 million in each of the accounts. The ACC witness also told the Court that after serving notice to the then Minister of Social Welfare, he received records of correspondences from the Office of the then Vice President to the Minister of Social Welfare to authorise the then acting Managing Director of Sierra Leone Commercial Bank to make local bank transfers from the Hajj Committee account. Numerous letters between the then Minister of Social Welfare, Office of the former Vice President, Secretary to the VP, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Social Welfare and the two banks were tendered. Noah also directed the Court to a notice of summons he received from the then Minister of Social Welfare with regards the 2017 Hajj Committee.  Meanwhile, former Vice President Victor Foh, former Mines Minister, Minkalu Mansaray, Abubakarr Carew, Fackeh Conteh, Mohamed Alie Bah, Minister of State and Sheka Sahid Kamara, Special Assistant President’s Office and Social Affairs face eight charges including Conspiracy to Commit Corruption Offences, Misappropriation of Public Funds, and misleading the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). According to the ACC, the accused persons are former executive members of the 2017 Hajj Committee. They were acting on the Committee that was supposed to organize and implement activities leading to a pilgrimage to Mecca. They are accused of stealing $80,000 USD, between 1st January to 30th September 2017. The Judge adjourned the matter to the 28th September 2018. The “Hajj-gate” corruption scandal rocked the Muslim community in 2017. Devout Muslim pilgrims complained of being duped, over-charged and misled by members of the Hajj Committee of government.


By Sylvia Villa

Thursday September 27, 2018.

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