Lawmakers Setup Schools to Funnel County Funds Surreptitiously
Monrovia – More eyebrows are being raised over the disbursement of funds to Montserrado County District #5 Representative, Thomas Fallah and other lawmakers as a result of the inability of the county’s administration and the Project Management Committee (PMC) to account for the County Development Fund (CDF) and the Social Development Fund (SDF) properly, following a 2014 GAC audit report.
Report by Willie N. Tokpah – [email protected]
The irregularities highlight the disbursement of scholarship funds to institutions within district 5, which is owned by Rep. Thomas Fallah, and other schools in various districts, also owned by different lawmakers.
According to the audit report in possession of FrontPageAfrica, the disbursement of funds to institutions in District #5 did not meet guidelines in place, including the PFM law etc., all of which Rep. Fallah and others are fully aware of.
Representative Fallah was captured in a 2012-2014 audit report for receiving more than the actual amount allocated to each district for scholarships.
The report named Thomas Fallah, Saah Joseph, Richmond Anderson and William Dakel as lawmakers who received money for students in the various institutions they own.
Smythe Institute (Rep. Richmond Anderson), Dave Workshop School (Rep. Saah Joseph), William Dakel Institute (Rep. William Dakel), Thomas Fallah Computer Institute (Rep. Thomas Fallah), Thomas Fallah Vocational institute (Rep. Thomas Fallah).
But in an interview with FrontPage Africa, Rep. Fallah challenged anyone having proof of any misdeed of him to come forward and produce them.
“I respect your view and people are entitled to what they say and if you think I have violated any law, let me be taken to court,” Representative Fallah said. He said he was not prepared to speak further on the matter.
“Check # 772518 was written in the name Thomas P. Fallah, a member of the House of Representatives in an amount of US$20, 000 from Ecobank on the 14th of November, 2012 as scholarship payment for the Thomas Fallah Computer Institute,” stated the audit.
“We noted that voucher #1610 was raised with check #772507 in the name of Thomas Fallah Vocational Institute on 12 November 2012 but the voucher was void.
However, on the same date a check #772518 was issued in the name of Thomas P. Fallah without any evidence that a voucher was raised in support of the payment.
“We also noted that US$20,000 was paid in the name of a member of the House of Representatives for a purported scholarship payments for 400 (four hundred students) instead of the beneficiary institution.
The payment was US$4,350 (four thousand three hundred fifty dollars), more than the US$15,650 (fifteen thousand six hundred fifty dollars) allocated to each district as per 2 March 2011,” the document said.
Additionally Representative Fallah, according to the audit report, received the check of US$20,000 in his name and used his passport to encash it at Ecobank.
The report also stated that there was no signature indicating the approval of the then Minister of Internal Affairs, Blamo Nelson, when only the Minister could have approved and verified the cashing of these checks.
“There was material justification provided for the excess payment to the Representative but there is no indication that a payment voucher was raised before the payment was made in keeping with the PFM Regulation P.9(1) which states that All disbursements or payments of public moneys shall be properly supported by pre-number payment vouchers.
“Accordingly, this act instituted by Representative Fallah contravenes financial discipline as defined by the PFM Act of 2009.”
More besides, the report noted that the US$20,000 which was paid for 400 students attending the Thomas Fallah Computer Institute, owned and operated by Representative Thomas P. Fallah, other institutions including William Booth Salvation Army School, Victory High School and Starz College of Technology received, US$356.11, US$60.00 and US$150.00 respectively as scholarship fees.
At the same time it was noted in the report that a communication dated January 21, 2013 addressed to Speaker Alex Tyler by the former Superintendent of Montserrado County, Grace T. Kpan observed several abnormalities with the Montserrado County Scholarship process, including duplication of names, scholarship listing not vetted, names submitted without fees attached, names of students without identities, among others.
In spite of these noted deficiencies, the report maintained that the county administration and PMC proceeded to make payments as per the mandate of the House of Representatives.
“Contrary to best practice, we observed that the scholarships were awarded without a policy to guide the process.
The lack of policy denied assurance that the scholarships benefited the intended beneficiaries and value for money was achieved. Based on the audit performed, we have not been able to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence to provide a basis for a conclusion.
Accordingly, we do not express a conclusion on the available accounts and related records of CDF and SDF of Montserrado County for the fiscal years 2011/2012 and 2012/2013,” the report stated.
Representative Fallah did not respond to the audit, according to auditor report.