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Sierra Leone Report Finds Ebola Funds Misappropriated

FILE - A man suffering from the Ebola virus lies on the floor outside a house in Port Loko Community, situated on the outskirts of Freetown, in Sierra Leone, Oct. 21, 2014.

Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission has launched an investigation into misappropriated funds intended to help fight the Ebola outbreak, according to Abdulai Bayraytay, spokesman for the government.

The Auditor General’s report, which was presented to parliament on Thursday, said there were no supporting documents to show how the health ministry spent $5.7 million in Ebola funds. It also suggests the misuse of the funds affected the quality of treatment of the disease.

Bayraytay said the administration has called for a thorough investigation into allegations of financial malfeasance after President Bai Koroma said officials involved in the scandal should face the full extent of the law.

“The president has made it abundantly clear that whosoever is found culpable misappropriating any funds related to the fight against the Ebola virus will have to face the full penalty of the law,” said Bayraytay.

“For us what remains very clear is the state institutions that are responsible for accountability and transparency in our own government strategy that is the Anti-Corruption Commission as well as the Audit Service, the government will continue to support them so that they can continue to do a marvelous work,” he added.

Some Sierra Leoneans criticized the government for not doing enough after details of the report emerged. They contend that the administration should have demanded an immediate inquiry into the auditor general’s report instead of issuing a mere press statement.

Bayraytay said there is a need for patience to enable state institutions to proceed with their work.

“The government has renewed its commitment to support any due process that would prosecute anybody that is found culpable because since President Koroma came to power his mantra has been zero tolerance for corruption… his administration will not condone any sacred cow. He has demonstrated that when very high people including ministers were sacked and later presented to the Anti-Corruption Commission,” said Bayraytay.

He says the administration will continue supporting state institutions including the Anti-Corruption Commission to weed out graft despite criticisms.

Bayraytay said the government cannot be seen as interfering with the work of both parliament and the Anti-Corruption commission in their quest to investigate the misappropriated Ebola funds.

“What is on record is the Anti-Corruption Commission has one of the strongest legislations in West Africa as revised in 2008,” said Bayraytay.

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