Post-Nyeswa Report: Millions Unaccounted for in COVID-19 Fight

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The late E. Barten Nyeswa's final audit beport before his death was on the NPHIL and the Mnistry of Health

— Murdered IAA boss Emmanuel Nyeswa’s Final Audit Report before his Death                            

An auditor report from the Internal Audit Agency has revealed that more than US$2 million including millions of Liberian dollars of the USD48,637,711.50 Covid-19 National Response Budget were lost to fraud and corruption during the country’s fight against the coronavirus.

The draft audit report, which was submitted on September 28, 2020, covering the period of February 2 to June 30, 2020 by the murdered IAA boss Emmanuel Nyeswa, discovered several instances of fraud relating to overpriced supplies, salaries for non-existent and fake customs bills among other financial crimes.

The Nyeswa report found that the more than US$48 million Covid-19 National Response Budget was not authorized by the legislature and that the Ministry of Health operated a comingling operational account for the Covid-19 Fund in the amount of USD996, 300.00 with the following account numbers: 0010011502021904 and 0010011501008294.

In the summary of the 44-page report, the IAA, which under the watch of its late director, had been vigorous in the fight against corruption, discovered that health authorities did not just conceal transaction information on US$71, 500.00, but also failed to provided liquidation report for cash advance valued at US$7,261.00 and L$2,900,800.00.

Also, the audit report disclosed that authority of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) could not account for allowance valued at US$79,212.00 for March, overstated contracts valued US$84, 880.00 and did not have procurement plan for contracts valued US$913,675.00.

“No Evidence of approval for US$48,637,711.5 Covid-19 National Response Budget, comingling of Covid-19 Fund US$996,300.00 with MOH Operational Account Number 0010011502021904 and 0010011501008294 and concealment of US$71, 500.00 transactions,” the report executive summary said. “No evidence of liquidation report for cash advances valued US$7,261.00 and L$2,900,800.00, allowance valued US$79,212.00 for March, 2020 not accounted for, lack of procurement plan and no objection authorization from PPCC for contracts valued US$913,675.00 and overstated contracts valued US$84,880.00.”

It added: “Discrepancy in Disbursements of Compensation made to casual laborers at Star Base, payment made to POC, balances and overpayment to Blessed 1 Luxury valued US$120,604.20, Bless 1 Luxury TIN is not found in the LRA Online Application and PPC Procurement Platform. No Evidence of GOL Tax Remittances from POCs’ Payments valued US$29,318.36; and contradiction of transaction and payments made without valid contracts.”

According to the report, the lack of evidence for the approval of the more than US$48 million COVID-19 budget means that it may not be adequately supported and tracked due and the objectives of effectively combatting the pandemic may not have been achieved.

Regulation L.2 of the PFM act on Special Funds States in section two that: “A Special Fund shall be established by an enactment or other legal instrument approved by the Legislature, which shall specify the purposes of the Fund, the administering authority, amounts receivable and payable, and any special rules necessary for the transaction of business. “

However, the report said this was not the case. It added that in such a circumstance, “unauthorized changes to budget lines may occur” while the budget itself is in “violation of the Public Financial Management (PFM) Act and Regulation 2009.”

The disease, COVID-19, which came to Liberia on March 16, 2020, required a massive response from the government and its international partners costing tens of millions of dollars to bring it under control.

Since the pandemic emerged in March, it has so far killed 82 Liberian and infected 1,416 people. The massive response from the governments and its international partners ensure that the country did not suffer much compared to other countries from COVID resulting in higher recovery and low deaths.

However, the government Success in handling of the COVID-19 fight was being overshadowed by reports of corruption, which heath authorities denied. In this light, President George Weah, in a communication, referenced “MOS-RL/NFM-COS/JUL-06/2020” on July 17, 2020, mandated the IAA to conduct an audit of COVID-19 response activities.

As for Nyeswa, his death came 12 days after the submission of the audit report on September 28, 2020. Nyeswa, who was pronounced dead by health authorities at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Monrovia early Saturday morning on October 10, 2020, reportedly suffered from a fall from a narrow doorway on the top floor of his home along the SKD Boulevard.  

There is a narrow door at the top floor above the entrance of the house, from which Nyeswa is believed to have fallen. It is not the width of a normal door, but about half the width. Someone the size of Nyenswa would have needed to turn sideways to pass through that door.

Moreover, outside that door is is a ledge with barely enough space for his feet — and then an instant drop — meaning that there is no porch or platform or even a banister to protect one from falling.  

Also, the report further explained that due to the comingling of the COVID-19 funds in the amount of US$996, 300.00 with MOH Operational Account numbers 0010011502021904 and 0010011501008294, it created room for funds to not be properly accounted for, as well as misapplication and misappropriation. 

“No Evidence of Bank Statement and Reconciliation Reports from February 2020 to April 2020. We did not receive bank statements and reconciliation reports for the period February to April 2020. Several requests were made to the IMS Team but to no avail. This made it difficult to verify the actual funds received and deposited for the fight against the pandemic, as well as, expenditure made thereof for the period mentioned. [Such situation increases the] possibility of unusual transactions going undetected due to the absence of bank statements,” the reports said.

It further that a check valued US$71,500.00 (CK#00000101) in favor of Quaqua Pewee, an internal staff of NPHIL, was encashed through the Central Bank on May 4, 2020, without any voucher. The check, according to IAA audit report was not recorded in the cashbook while an adjustment was made on the May 2020 bank reconciliation report as a bank error.

“The error was not corrected on the June 2020 bank statement and was not adjusted on the June 2020 reconciliation as error. Instead, the amount was concealed in the bank reconciliation report, which suggests an intention to conceal the audit trail,” the report said. “Concealment of information is an indication of fraud; as such, funds may not be used for the intended purpose.”

Furthermore, IAA disclosed that the Ministry of Health made advance payments in the names of personnel valued US$7, 261.00 and LRD2, 900,800.00 but could not provide evidence to support its claimed that such money was spent.

“Failure to retire advance payments could lead to personal gain. [And] a total of 902 service contracts valued US355,960.00 were submitted for review. We sampled 50 contracts that were traced to the payroll representing 5.54% of the total and observed that hazard payments made to all 50 persons for February, March and April, 2020 were without signatures and approved contracts.

As the result, the report said, the action by the health authority is in violation of the ESOP and PFM Regulation and that hazard payments could be made without services being performed as well as funds intended for hazard payments could be misapplied; and the objectives of fighting COVID-19 may not be achieved.

“[Also] we reviewed payment vouchers totaling USD188, 740.00 written to Rhoda K. Wiah, Konah D. Roberts, and Michael Howard to pay March 2020 allowances for personnel working under various pillars and observed that USD79, 212.00 could not be accounted for,” the report added.

As the consequence of such action, IAA said names on the payroll may not have rendered services towards the fight against COVID-19, while the value for money may not be achieved and that funds may be used for personal gain and could undermine the fight against the pandemic.

“Discrepancy in Disbursements of Compensation made to casual laborers at Star  Base. Payment voucher # 01604 February 14, 2020 in the amount of US$9,450.00 (CBL 00218125) was raised to and encashed by Mercy J. Musah to pay casual laborers at Star Base. Ms. Musah then entrusted USD9,075.00 to Andrian Brown for disbursement to the casual laborers. Variance of USD375.00 could not be accounted for. However, disbursement listing showed that Andrian Brown paid USD10,125.00 to the laborers and there was no evidence to prove the source of the excess payment of UD$1,050.

The signatures on the disbursement list appeared like a penmanship of a single person. In another instance, it was observed the same workers were paid on payment voucher (PV01627, check number 00278551) on February 18, 2020 valued US$35,000.00 with different set of signatures,” report said.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. My condolences to the late Mr. Nyeswa’s family, and may he rest in perfect peace.
    I stand to be corrected, but weren’t we told that none of the four people who “died” were auditors?

    • Mr. Agyei,

      The president said it was a boyfriend-girlfriend thing, and the minister of communication said on BBC that none of the 4 were auditors.
      Now here is his report, Liberia oh my Liberia!

  2. Well, now we have a motive for this other murder. At least the investigators could now invite these accounts holders and spenders as “persons of interest” to help with this investigation. But something tells me this is another potential cold case, so long as president Oppong does not give the marching order to our so-called security people to make that move. Yet they wonder why no investors in their right mind has dared ask the location of Liberia in recent times with this level of dense leadership? Living up to expectation, though, as in “Change for hope!” Now that we got the change, I guess it’s time to hope for better days? We all cherish democracy but I swear, these hopeless times make one to have second thought on this much overated political philosophy. Especially that it bounds its adherents to ceretain precepts, as in prearranged times and protocols for everything, which can be very exacting. But I guess if we could survive 173 years, six years is breeze in that grand scheme of things. Oh well!

  3. Time and again, I am appalled by the poor journalism in this newspaper. This article reads like it is just a full copy of the Auditors report as it is intended to be read by managers, board members and accountants. This is not written for the public. The public is not interested in the exact account numbers, voucher numbers and cheque numbers. The article also has the size of a full report. Journalists should be able to make a short 400 words summmary which reflects the essence of what happened and which is legible for common readers. You have lost my attention after the first three paragraphs as Observer articles often do. Therefore I am not sure if in this article there is also the usual redundancy. Most Observer articles repeat about 3 times the same information as the journalist probably get paid by the length of the article. Please clean up your act

    • Mr. andrestelder! I think you should be speaking for yourself pertaining to the context of your expectations from the news in question. The idea of the story was to conveyed the audit report to the reading audience that has been prepared by the late auditor, “may his soul rest in peace” Mr. Nyenswah, which is the probably cause of motives for his death and others. The audit report was not 400 words. The report was 400 pages and if this article wasn’t summarized from 400 pages to its content for public reading, then you are yet to defined summarization for general audience style.

      Wasn’t the message conveyed accurately? Probably, you have already read the report from another media sources and this report is totally contradictory to what you might have read? If that’s not the case, what were you expecting in the audit report and wasn’t in this very report? The writer decides what style and format to writes his article and not the reading audience. If you are dissatisfied about the style, speak for yourself and not for the general reading audience. From reading this report, I can vividly pictured the damaged in the 400 pages. Speak the facts and give credit where and when credit is due.

  4. May God Almighty save us from these Terrible Vultures! Just as Ellen Sirleaf and Friends sucked the EBOLA oil well dry back then, so too has the Oppong Gang of thieves (Tweah, Nagbe, Morlu, Koijee, Shaw, Bright, Mcgill, etc.) been gobbling up the COVID-19 gravy train and the vaults of the Liberian Central Bank to boot.

  5. My Sympathy to the Nyeswa family; he came back to Liberia to assist his broken country, but powerful men caught up with him and cut out that revolutionary idea. How do we developed our country? How are we different from the generations before us? our generation is failing our nations big time!

    • Neither law nor the moral impulse allows anything contrary to the truth or contrary to logic. The very fact that this very report has been out or is out, or burying it was or is impossible, is a proof that NEITHER THE INTENT NOR THE MOTIVE of the death of Nyeswa (if he was murdered) had any link to or had to do with Nyeswa’s Final Audit Report before his Death!

      This has to be the case since in fact, the Nyeswa’s Final Audit Report before his Death was or is public property, and could not be destroyed.as such accounting could still be carried out decades after Nyeswa or any expert in his stead.

      And this explains why those pointing fingers to or at government should be ashamed of themselves, while those reasoning that those responsible for the murders (if this is murder or homicide) are people out of government hellbent on giving the government a bad public image, must be hailed.

      And this is the same with the case of Albert Peters and Gifty Lama. For neither law nor the moral impulse allows anything contrary to the truth or contrary to logic. For of course, neither the law’s disposition nor logic’s disposition is ever partial. For motive gives a name to the omission or act…whether moral or criminal.

  6. This is a motive. By whom? We’ll have to find out. The Ministers of Health and Finance are persons of interest and should be summoned for an investigation by an independent body or separate agency. They could for example make and exception and allow “Military Intelligence” to carry on the investigation in lieu of the police.

    On a scale from one to 10 here in Liberia, I’ll give them 6 for being the only disciplined and “fairly honest” (there are dishonest members of the military) as well as “feared” security apparatus is the Military (AFL). All other agencies will fall below 3. Minus the AFL , they will average at 1.0 .

  7. They are persons of interest because, this seems to be a motive. I am not accusing them but the report is a possible motive! They should be investigated to clear the air. No stones should remain unturned.

  8. Comrade Dempster Yallah alias Peter Gboyo,

    Former AG John Morlu 11, Sr conducted numerous audits in which he named cabinet ministers, etc., and amounts of money they couldn’t account for, including about over USD $200 million at the same MOH under Dr Mrs Dahn, but nobody murdered him. The question, therefore, is, how did you discern that Nyeswah’s death was motivated by the audit report? Moreover, since your high school, undergraduate, and graduate days in Liberia, how many officials do you know were caught, convicted in court, and sent to prison based on GoL-mandated audit findings?.

    The audit report, therefore, couldn’t have been a believable or plausible motive for his murder, even though that’s what you and other misinformation peddlers hope might provoke our people to anger before the December 8 senatorial races. Of course, the killings were politically-motivated, and I’m rooting for careful investigations to unearth evidence leading to the culprits. The murderers and their collaborators believe they won’t be caught; thus, LNP should consider these cases as direct challenge to the security sector.

    • Mr. Sylvester Bagdhad Moses, you are one confused troll and perhaps on account of your senility? In one corner of your scattered teeth you write, “The audit report, therefore, couldn’t have been a believable or plausible motive for his murder, even though that’s what you and other misinformation peddlers hope might provoke our people to anger before the December 8 senatorial races.”

      Under the same funky breath you write, “Of course, the killings were politically-motivated, and I’m rooting for careful investigations to unearth evidence leading to the culprits. The murderers and their collaborators believe they won’t be caught; thus, LNP should consider these cases as direct challenge to the security sector.”

      So which is it Bagdhad Moses? Could the audit report be motive for this murder or not? Mind you nobody, at least not me, is accusing anyone of murder just yet. All we are saying is that the audit report is revelatory and damning, which could be grounds to silence the auditor. That those indicted or implicated in he siphoning of funds in the report be invited as “persons of interest” to assist with the ongoing investigation. Is that too much to ask, as someone who supposed to be security-minded?

      Judging from these bloopers it is obvious you may still harbor some grains of virtue in that debilitated frame you drag around, but for the sake of whatever the deluded ambition, you keep agonizing your poor soul in those objectionable pursuits. Hence in that duality you tend to sometimes forget who you are or the object of your verbiage. As a result you will die and your corpse will still be twitching in want of finality. You better reconcile that duality now!

      • “All we are saying is that the audit report is revelatory and damning, which could be grounds to silence the auditor.“

        This rationale in quotation above is absurd, fallacious, and incongruent, given the fact that any could be or would be killers were aware the “revelatory damning audit report“ was not only to the knowledge or in the mind of Nyeswa, but was indeed documented on paper files and the digital data of the IAA.

        One may be “silenced“ in such manner if what he or she has to reveal is solely within himself, and not as such report documented on paper files and the digital data of the IAA.

        • That’s one of the unfortunate hazards about frequenting this site. You encounter all sorts of myopic and unidimensional mudheads like this other obvious attention-seeking interloper. For your information “silencing” can be employed as payback, or punishment for failure to carry out or not carry out whatever the request, and not necessarily intended only to forestall the exposition of that secret. Having clarified that, I’m sure you’ve noticed how I have avoided any exchange here with you and solely on account of your inherent vulgar and uncouth reputation. So if you know what I know you better maintain a social distance thrice the recommended protocol here with me. The audacity!

          • Dempster Yallah aka Peter Gboyo, it is your dirty illiterate mother and your prostitute wife Lucia Massaley Yallah selling herself in Monrovia you can go on fooling as to what ”silencing” implies and expresses under these circumstances and generally, or that a critique or a point of correction is “attention-seeking“ by an “interloper“.

            Or has your inherent rudeness and stupidity blinded you to the fact that comments are subject to suffer the fate of been debunked? Let this be a warning to you that any further silly misbehavior from you, you will be compelled to realize that social distance has no place on this forum.

          • Dempster Yallah aka Peter Gboyo, it is your dirty illiterate mother and your prostitute wife Lucia Massaley Yallah selling herself in Monrovia you can go on fooling as to what ”silencing” implies and expresses under these circumstances and generally, or that a critique or a point of correction is “attention-seeking“ by an “interloper“.

            Or has your inherent rudeness and stupidity blinded you to the fact that comments are subject to suffer the fate of been debunked? Let this be a warning to you that any further silly misbehavior from you, you will be compelled to realize that “social distance“ has no place on this forum.

        • Erratum: “…punishment for failure to carry out or not carry out whatever the request,” should read, punishment for carrying out or failure to carry out… THank you.

  9. Mr. Moses, do you know and understand what constitutes probative and/or direct evidence? Irrefutably, the Laptop and Cellphones owned and belonging to Mrs. Gifty A. Lama, but found in Mr. Supreme’s custody and possession, undeniably constitute direct and probative pieces of evidence.

    Consistent with the record and what obtained about two weeks ago in Liberia, the action and inaction of the George Manneh Weah led Government, from the discovery of the bodies of Mr. Albert K. Peters, Mrs. Victoria Gifty Lama, Mr. George F. Fahnboto, and Mr. Emmanuel B. Nyesuwa to the hastily and desperate relocation of the bodies of the Auditors and Financials Experts to the St Moses Funeral Home, to the willful neglect by Mr. George Manneh Weah and his Government to timely conduct on the crime scene and after the crime scene examinations on the bodies of the Auditors and Financial Experts, and to Mrs. Lama’s Laptop and Phones been found in the custody and possession of Mr. Supreme, and to him answering Mrs. Lama’s phones around at 2:00 A.M on that frightful and heartbreaking morning when the bodies of Mr. Peters and Mrs. Lama were found in a vehicle belonging to Mr. Peters on Broad Street, Snapper Hill, City of Monrovia, Republic of Liberia, certainly and without the slightest doubt, the following occurrences, prove that indeed and without a question, Mr. Albert K. Peters, Mrs. Victoria Gifty Lama, Mr. George F. Fahnboto, Mr. Emmanuel B. Nyesuwa and Mr. Mathew Innis, all truly committed and promising Auditors and Financial Experts in Liberia, were obviously abducted, tortured and murdered under strange and suspicious circumstances that bear the true marks of official and authoritative instructions.

    To conform to his cold-hearted and nefarious paymasters that mission was accomplished and that he had abducted, tortured and murdered Mr. Peters and Mrs. Lama, Mr. Supreme confusedly and directly confessed to Mr. Lama and the Sister of the Late Gifty A. Lama, where he directed Mr. Lama and his Wife’s sister of the Later Gifty A. Lama where their bodies was to be found, Broad St, Snapper Hill, Monrovia, Liberia.

    Liberians and residents need to swiftly and accordingly hold the George Manneh Weah-led Government accountable and responsible to find, indict and swiftly bring the killers of Mr. Peters, Mrs. Lama, Mr. Fahnboto, Mr. Nyesuwa and Mir. Mathew Innis’ killers to justice.

    The Reported Abduction, torture and Gruesome Murder of the auditors will NEVER go unpunished.

    WE REFUSE to permit Domestic Terrorists and their PAYMASTERS to run our streets with impunity

    LIBERIANS, MUST LEGALLY HOLD MR. WEAH AND HIS GOVERNMENT TO ACCOUNT.

    WE ARE ANXIOUSLY WAITING FOR THE GOVERNMENT’S AUTOPSY REPORT.

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