President Bio appoints ex-civil servant accused of corruption as new finance minister – The Sierra Leone Telegraph
Sierra Leone Telegraph: May 8, 2021:
President Bio stunned even his supporters yesterday, after announcing the appointment of Dennis Vandy as his new finance minister, prompting critics to remind the president of the adage – “appoint a mouse to take care of the cheese”.
Can Dennis Vandy be trusted to take care of the nation’s finances, or will he be controlled by the president and his cronies to do whatever they want?
Dennis Vandy, who served as permanent secretary to various ministries under the former Ernest Bai Koroma APC government, is said to have perfected and perfected the art of mismanaging or siphoning public funds between 2007 and 2018.
And when President Bio won the 2018 election, he didn’t hesitate to nominate his southeastern and big brother from the SLPP party – Dennis Vandy as his secretary, a move described by many as a reward for helping to dismantle the old APC government apparatus ahead of the 2018 election.
But after just a few months as the president’s secretary, Vandy couldn’t resist his urge and instinct to undermine his superiors.
The 29the May 2018, President Julius Maada Bio having promised that he would take discipline and responsibility very seriously in his government, took the decision to sack his secretary – Dennis Vandy (Photo) on a leaked memo that Vandy said came from the president “dishonestly” – ordering the finance ministry and government agencies to set aside various parliamentary finance laws, causing chaos.
The memo fiasco sparked a political row that prompted the APC opposition to demand the dismissal of Dennis Vandy for his dishonest blunder.
Dennis Vandy’s fate outside the Bio-led government in the cold was short-lived, however.
To mark what critics called the “misplaced trust” President Bio had in Vandy, he appointed Vandy Minister of Agriculture and Food Safety, despite the red flag.
But the commission of inquiry created by President Bio himself to investigate corruption and mismanagement of public resources by ministers and officials of the former APC government, did not share the same level of trust in Dennis Vandy. as the president.
On October 5, 2020, President Bio suspended all officials and public officials accused of “acting inappropriately in relation to the use of public funds” by the commission of inquiry.
One of those officials suspended by President Bio was his Minister of Agriculture – Dennis Vandi, who had served as permanent secretary (voting controller) at the Ministry of Education, under the APC government led by Koroma which is accused of large-scale corruption.
In such a scenario, how can Vandy be innocent when, after all, he was the comptroller of votes responsible for approving ministerial spending? The commission of inquiry was right.
According to President Bio’s white paper on IOC recommendations: “The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology was the most recklessly run ministry during the reporting period and was run as a cartel and a criminal enterprise by Dr Minkailu Bah and his collaborators, the permanent secretaries (including Vandy), with the exception of Prince Emmanuel Oldman Cole, resulting in massive embezzlement and / or the loss of colossal sums, both in leones and in U.S. dollars….. “
“Dr. Minkailu Bah, the former minister from 2008 to 2018, along with Mr. Mani Koroma, Dennis Vandy and Umaru Conteh, former permanent secretaries of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology have been implicated in abuses blatant from their offices for the reckless manner in which they treated the finances of the government under their responsibility and failed to provide leadership and oversight to the ministry, department or agency under their responsibility, ”the report says. of the white paper on IOC recommendations.
In its recommendations, the report states that the responsible minister, Dennis Vandy and his co-conspirators must all repay tens of millions of dollars – jointly and severally to the Government of Sierra Leone’s treasury.
But since the publication of the report of the commission of inquiry and the government’s White Paper, Dennis Vandy had claimed his innocence. Speaking to the Global Times, he said he never had a chance to hear the allegations against him.
“I was in this country throughout the sessions of the Commissions… I was never invited… I was never informed to be a Person of Interest… Above all, I was never interviewed by anyone working for the Commissions, ”protested Mr. Vandi.
“I studied the report carefully and discovered with dismay that I had been wrongly indicted for every wrongdoing that took place at the Ministry of Education from 2007 to 2018… I was permanent secretary at the Ministry of Education of 29e to March 31st August 2016… I have never been invited to Commissions, and I have never been declared a Person of Interest in Commissions ”.
Many other former officials, especially those believed to be supporters of the APC opposition, are also protesting that they have never been asked for questioning by the IOC, as a fundamental defense of their right to freedom. natural justice.
Many have yet to secure the right to a fair trial in court to prove their innocence, despite meeting the three-month deadline to appeal the decision of the commission of inquiry, from the date of publication of the COI report.
But what is shocking to many in Sierra Leone is that two days ago Dennis Vandy, President Bio’s blue-eyed boy, had his Court of Appeal hearing expedited by the court system, to facilitate the President’s plan for Vandy’s smooth return to the government benches.
Yesterday, May 7, 2021, the Sierra Leone Telegraph reported that the Court of Appeal, chaired by Judge Fatmata Bintu Alhadi, yesterday rejected all grounds of appeal of SOGEFEL SARL, against the conclusions and recommendations of the commissions of inquiry (COI) led by corruption judges in the previous government.
SOGEFEL SARL is a construction company appointed by the COI alongside Dennis Vandy and others for their role in embezzling public funds.
The three judges of the Court of Appeal – judges Fatmata Bintu Alhadi, Komba Kamanda and Ms. Tonia Barnett unanimously ordered SOGEFEL SARL to pay the sum of 100,000,000 Leas as appeal costs.
Vandy was not only acquitted, but judges at a separate Court of Appeal hearing chaired by Judge Ivan A. Sesay, Justices Momoh-Jah Stevens and Adrian J. Fisher yesterday acquitted Dennis Vandy who had been accused and found guilty of corruption by the IOC. .
Judges also ordered the state to reimburse every penny Vandy paid in legal fees to clear his name, a rare opportunity barely seen in Sierra Leone – only for politically connected people.
In rendering his judgment, Fisher J. ordered that the appeal of the former Minister of Agriculture be allowed and that all findings and recommendations of the Board of Inquiry be set aside as these findings were not supported by evidence. evidence, adding that all monies paid by the former Minister of Agriculture Agriculture – if any, should be refunded accordingly.
Yesterday’s court ruling in favor of Vandy came just hours before President Bio announced he was pleased to appoint Dennis Vandy as finance minister. The wonders never cease in Sierra Leone’s unbalanced politics.
This is what a government critic said yesterday: “President Bio (Photo) promises to fight corruption, but now tolerates it and backs it like wild fire. The recently appointed finance minister, Mr Dennis Vandy, was previously appointed secretary to President Bio and was sacked for violating parliamentary procedures, but was later appointed minister of agriculture. His name was listed by the Commission of Inquiry for Corruption, serving as Permanent Secretary (Voting Controller) under the CPA regime. He was removed from his post after being found guilty and guilty, but is now compensated as Minister of Finance. Is President Bio really serious in his fight against corruption if he is only protecting his interests? All I see is a political witch hunt against the APC opposition. “
One thing is certain in this decision of President Bio to appoint Vandy to the post of Minister of Finance. It will be seen as a slap in the face of the international community in Sierra Leone, which has invested and is investing so much in improving governance in a country that is not far from being once again awarded the title of State. failing.
The World Bank and IMF will soon cease funding flows to Sierra Leone, as the ruling SLPP and other political parties begin to prepare for the 2023 general and presidential elections. But in the meantime, foreign investors are turning their backs on will undoubtedly ask if Sierra Leone is an enabling environment for their cash flow.