Liberia: Leaked Audio Exposes Massive Graft within Health System

Margibi County Health Officer, Dr. Augustine Nyankun Fannieh

Kakata, Margibi County — FrontPageAfrica has obtained leaked audio on Margibi County Health Officer (CHO) Dr. Augustine Nyankun Fannieh and other senior staff of the County Health Team discussing their involvement in financial corruption surrounding fraudulent billings and collection of kickbacks from vendors.

By Yawah Y. Jaivey, Contributing Writer   

The leaked audio embroiling the Margibi County Health Team administrators in financial impropriety surfaced at the time the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Ministry of Health (MOH) Fixed Amount Reimbursement Agreement (FARA) Program is providing an annual financial support of US$801,693.00 to the Margibi Health System.  

The FARA program supports the cost of implementing components of the Essential Package of Health Services that support family planning, maternal and child health and malaria prevention and treatment at 24 health Facilities across Margibi.

The five-minute-long audio recording emanated from a conversation between the Margibi County Health Officer Dr. Augustine Nyankun Fannieh and others including the County Health Services Administrator, Leroy Darworzia, County Health Services Department Director, James Tamba Varney, Compliance Officer, George Y. Gaykpua, Finance Officer, Roland M. Reeves, Assistant Finance Officer, Kusie E. David and Procurement Officer, Dornuu Horace.

The leaked audio, which dates back more the five months ago, was recorded during a senior-managerial meeting triggered by a growing rift amongst the county health team officials over the unfair distributions of kickbacks from corrupt dealings.

In the recording, Dr. Fannieh can be heard in a somewhat angry tone mandating the procurement officer Dornuu Horace to desist from collecting kickbacks from vendors on behalf of the health team and only focus on his responsibility of processing procurement documents and bargain with vendors and allow the accountant to do the collection of kickbacks.

Dr. Fannieh stated: “Any transaction that goes on in term of remission; you give something and the procurement do something. The understanding is you need the money back to do something else.”

“The procurement supposed to do all his procurement thing and go and do the paper works, have the discussion and all with the vendors and whatever. Whatever is agreeable, you come and inform the County Health Services Administrator to know what is it; the accountant issued the cheque to the vendors and whatever amount that is agreeable that supposed to come back or wherever it is supposed to go; going forward it is the accountant that will go for the money, not the procurement,” he commended. 

He said: “So, the procurement officer should now begin to instruct or bargain with the vendors that after you received the cheque whatever amount the accountant should receive not the administrator.”

“Doctor, don’t talk it, I will not be part of it again. What I mean, I will not part of it to say money business come you see me inside; I do my document, turn my back, let them carry their cheque they will get their money”, Procurement Officer Horace can be heard saying.  

At this, Compliance Officer George Y. Gaykpua says: “You are not understanding—after you have done your preparation with them (vendors) — you tell them say they will rise the cheque, but this cheque if that one drum of gas you will not get the gas; the money is coming back, only the accountant will come for it.”

The other voice in the clip belonging to the County Health Services Department Director James Tamba Varney asked: “Horace, you never brought complain that there was a time that you met the administrator that the money come to him and portion you supposed to get you never got it?”

The Procurement Officer Dornuu Horace answered in the affirmative: “Yes, but I did say…that money business I am done with it now.”

Dr. Fannieh then interrupted stating: “The accountant will receive the money and bring it to the administrator and inform the administrator. If that the junior account received the money, the junior account will turn it over to the senior accountant then the senior accountant will inform the administrator that money is here.”

At this interval, Dr. Augustine Nyankun Fannieh statement was interrupted with the sound of laughter from across the room.

Dr. Fannieh further: “Base on what it should be, the administrator if it required the administrator coming to the County Health Officer to do whatever breakdown XYZ; that breakdown will be sent to the accountant. It is the accountant going forward that will disburse all funding as long it has to do will money amongst hierarchies.”

Dr. Fannieh words: “Everywhere and there is nowhere you and your boss man whether salary or no salary can be equal irrespective of where you are. So, I defeat that other argument.”

In separate remarks, the County Health Services Department Director James Tamba Varney like others in speakers in the room advised the Procurement Officer Dornuu Horace to heed to Doctor’s instruction.

Meanwhile, the latest leaked audio emanating from the Margibi County Health Team has once again put the spotlight on the country’s health system, which has already been facing a credibility crisis.