The Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has vindicated Dr. Richard Konteh after a lengthy investigation over the Japanese Non-Project Grant Aid (JNPGA) donated by the Government of Japan in the form of Petroleum products to the Government of Sierra Leone worth approximately Eleven Million United States Dollars.
Given the detailed investigation that the ACC carried out, the director of the Intelligence and Investigation Department, Evelyn Kuyateh, stated in a signed letter that "the Commission will take no further step and will proceed to close the investigation."
In 2011, when Dr. Richard Konteh was the Minister of Trade and Industry, he negotiated this JNP Grant to help small business owners (petty traders) in Sierra Leone. He established the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Fund, which provided affordable loans to small business owners. He led the development and implementation of the Trade Policy and provided policy guidance and supervision to affiliated institutions. He developed and domesticated the Local Content Policy (now Local Content Law) of Sierra Leone. He registered marked improvements in Sierra Leone's Ease of Doing Business rankings, achieving the 6th most improved country in the world for Ease of Doing Business. He rebranded Sierra Leone around the world and attracted more investors to Sierra Leone than ever in the history of this country. He hosted the first-ever investment forum in Sierra Leone, attracting over 300 reputable investors.
When this JNP Grant was given, a United Kingdom-based company was appointed to serve as procurement Agent for importing and delivering the products to Sierra Leone. Advertisements procedures for the sale of petroleum products were duly followed, and the National Petroleum (NP) Sierra Leone Limited emerged winner of the bid at a contracted sum of Forty-Seven Billion, Four Hundred and Fifty-One Million, Three Hundred and Seventeen Thousand, Two Hundred and Thirty-Eight Leones Eighty Two Cents (Le47,451,317,238.82).
The National Petroleum paid the said amount to the Government of Sierra Leone and was lodged into two designated Accounts at the Bank of Sierra Leone.
Also, Twelve Billion Leones was given to the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB) to roll out a loan scheme for individuals and corporate bodies engaged in Small and Medium Enterprises with a binding commitment to repay with minimal interest.
Despite the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the SLCB reached regarding the management of the loan by the Bank with no interference from the Ministry, Dr. Richard Konteh was falsely accused of misappropriating $11 Million. He was subjected to a protracted investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission.
In June 2014, Dr. Konteh was also falsely accused of falsifying the president's signature. He was hastily relieved of his duty as Chief of Staff, detained for some time, released on bail and prosecuted for various alleged offences. After three years of gruelling investigations and court appearances, Dr. Konteh's case was thrown out of court for lack of evidence.
During his trial, experts from the Criminal Investigation Department in Sierra Leone (CID) submitted proof that it was actually Dr. Richard Konteh's signature that was forged. Dr. Konteh NEVER forged the president's signature, as it was alleged. He was cleared of all wrongdoings.
Dr. Konteh said in an interview later that the case against him was "fake news" and was just a political smear campaign to damage his reputation and political career. In another interview, Konteh said, "it is the greatest misconception and lies he has ever known."
Dr. Richard Konteh has always maintained his innocence and assured his supporters that he had done no wrong or condoned any corrupt practice while serving his country as Minister of Trade and Industry and later as Chief of Staff to the President between 2007 to 2014.
His political opponents are trying desperately to hold on to these allegations as a smear campaign. The letter from the Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is a proven testament to Dr. Konteh's character, innocence, and stance for the truth.
To God be all glory!
D-Unifier Media Team