Ex-president Koroma’s brother on the spot for tax evasion

Thursday February 21 2019

Sierra Leone ex-President Ernest Bai Koroma.

Sierra Leone ex-President Ernest Bai Koroma. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has ordered a younger brother of former President Ernest Bai Koroma to pay the government $127,547 tax arrears.

Mr Thomas Koroma is the Managing Director of the consultancy services firm T&S that was found wanting for tax evasion.

ACC said the discovery was made as part of an ongoing investigation of the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM), for which T&S provided services for the construction of a building.

The commission noted in a statement that a deal with the younger Koroma was reached in November 2018, when he agreed to settle the total amount within eight months.

Since November 2018, Mr Koroma has paid two separate instalments of $40,000 and $14,605.28 to the commission, leaving an outstanding balance of $72,942.47, ACC said.

The payment

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The commission said Mr Koroma had until June to complete the payment.

He becomes the latest former senior government official to enter an out-of-court settlement to repay monies thought to have been misappropriated.

The younger Koroma is also the first member of the former president’s family to have been found guilty of corruption by ACC.

It is widely believed that the Koroma family benefitted hugely from the influence of the former president.

Many Sierra Leoneans believe Thomas was a contractor on multiple government projects during his brother’s tenure - running into millions of dollars - which he partially or totally failed to deliver on.

His successor

There have even been calls for him to be charged in court.

ACC was quoted on Wednesday saying the out-of-court settlement with Thomas was just a part of the larger investigation at NATCOM.

The former president himself is among his government's officials expected to appear before three commissions of enquiry set up by his successor, Julius Maada Bio, to investigate corruption allegations under his tenure.

While Mr Bai Koroma’s APC party has described the enquiry as a witch-hunt, supporters of the new government say the many out-of-court settlements agreements with former officials justified the need for it.

But also while this approach had recovered over $1 million in the last seven months, it has raised eyebrows among some anti-graft campaigners who say it serves as an incentive for public officials to steal.

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