In Sierra Leone $5.7m Ebola fund unaccounted for - Auditor

Auditors say that spending of up to 25bn Leones ($5.7m) was not justified with relevant documents such as receipts and invoices.

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Workers burying an Ebola infected corpse in Kailahun, Sierra Leone play

Workers burying an Ebola infected corpse in Kailahun, Sierra Leone

(Tarik Jasarevic/Reuters)
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An audit in Sierra Leone has revealed that a sum of $5.7 million, which was part of state Ebola funds, has not been properly accounted for.

Auditors say that spending of up to 25bn Leones ($5.7m) was not justified with relevant documents such as receipts and invoices.

Sierra Leone's national audit service, which prepared the report, said that the health ministry showed "complete disregard" for the law in its disbursement of the funds.

The report adds that the mismanagement of the funds hampered the country’s fight against Ebola.

“Monies that have been set aside for the purpose of combating the Ebola outbreak may have been used for unintended purposes, thereby slowing the government's response to eradicate the virus,” the report said.

"There continue to be lapses in the financial management system in Sierra Leone and these have ultimately resulted in the loss of funds and a reduction in the quality of service delivery in the health sector,” it adds.

The audit team also stated that large gaps in the serial numbers listed for health workers suggests that even money meant for workers’ hazard payments might have been misappropriated.

Payment lists for staff were also said to contain names of thousands of ghost workers but have now been cleaned up.

The 25bn Leones not properly accounted for amounts to 33% of the 84bn Leones paid out by the health ministry between the beginning of the outbreak in Sierra Leone in May 2014, and 31 October 2014.

The country’s government has however pledged a full investigation into the incident and has assured that “those who are found guilty of misusing Ebola funds will face the full force of the law.”

Sierra Leone is one of the worst hit by the current Ebola epidemic and has recorded 3,363 deaths and 10,987 cases of the disease.

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