Liberia: Leaked Audio Reveals How Officials Plotted to Steal US$50k from Bong Mines Hospital
MONROVIA – FrontPageAfrica has obtained a recording of a telephone conversation in which the administrator at Bong Mines Hospital is heard telling the head of procurement there that some high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Health had transferred US$80,000 to the hospital’s account under the guise of renovating the hospital, but are expecting US$50,000 to be sent back to them.
By: Henry Karmo [email protected]
In the audio, the Administrator of the Hospital Mr. Alvin Sirleaf is heard telling the Medical Director Dr. Pokpa Zazay that the procurement officer of the hospital was distancing himself from a plan to steal money belonging to the hospital.
The Medical Director is also heard threatening the procurement officer of losing his job if he distanced himself from the plan. “Mr. Procurement you say you’re not part of it? If you’re not part of it, then I can promise you, you will lose your job.”
The Medical Director went on to explain that he made a follow-up to ascertain information about the money and that he found out that the money was not for the hospital and that the high-ranking officials at the Ministry were expecting the money back.
FPA followed up with the Procurement Officer, Mr. Allison Tugbah, to confirm the leaked audio. He told FPA, “He [the Medical Director] said the people sent their food for us to cook, and if I don’t want to cook their food, I will lose my job. Then I asked him how much is the money that came and how much the people want. He said US$80,000 had come and the people at the Ministry of Health are asking for US$50k to be sent back.”
FrontPageAfrica could not get comments from the Administrator and the Medical Director.
Mr. Tugbah, however, further informed FPA that because the blown whistle on the plan, an audit was commissioned by the Internal Audit Agency (IAA) to establish the facts surrounding the money and its intended purpose. In the IAA findings, it was established that money was paid for goods that were never delivered and services not offered.
The IAA Findings
The Internal Audit Agency conducted an audit of the Bong Mines Hospital for the period of July 21, 2020 to April 30, 2021. The report was released on May 10, 2022.
The audit concluded with seven major queries but one of the queries had to do with the renovation contract of the OPD building; repairing & changing doors, locks, commodes, window glass & screens, ceilings, linkages, and painting the front of the main hospital.
The Audit revealed that the awarding of the contract did not follow PPCC Law and the contractor, Blessing Engineering & Construction Company, Inc. did not carry on the renovation. However, Bong Mines Hospital’s former management team responded that the renovation is still ongoing and work would have been completed on August 15, 2021, after the audit period.
“Based on the former management response, a team of four people comprising Human Resources, Infrastructure and Compliance Units was commissioned to assess the authenticity of the management response or to corroborate the auditor’s earlier assertions.
“The team corroborates with auditors’ findings, except that the fronts of both buildings were painted and two of the five commodes ear-marked were changed.”
According to the auditor’s findings, Mr. Allison Tugbah, the Procurement Officer of the hospital said, Mr. Alvin Sirleaf, the Administrator told him that Bong Mines Hospital had received US$80,000 and instructed him (Alvin) to carry on the procurement process for the OPD and Hospital, which he did. He said he was later informed that the Administrator, Medical Director and Accountant were in discussion with Blessing Engineering Construction Company to start the work without the completion of the procurement process.
He stated further, he became really furious when he heard that a cheque of US$28,850.00 was raised in the name of Blessing Engineering Construction Company without the completion of the procurement process.
He stated that when the work started, he called the Nursing Director, OB Supervisor, etc on what was unfolding and immediately told the person who was scraping the walls to put a stop to the work due to the procurement process not being complete.
He stressed that the Medical Director and the Administrator threatened him that he was going to lose his job if he continued to incite the workers at the hospital.
According to the audit report, when Mr. Alvin Sirleaf, the Administrator was questioned on why the procurement process was breached, he said Blessing Engineering Construction Company had worked for them before, so they had wanted him to again carry on the renovation but the company was stopped by the Procurement Officer. While trying to reason together, auditors came in to conduct an audit.
“The assessment team in collaboration with the review committee corroborates with the audit findings and conclusion that BMH management team breached the PPCC Law in awarding the contract to Blessing Engineering Construction Company. We also concord with the audit findings and conclusion that Blessing Engineering Construction Company did notdo the work for which it was contracted to do. The Administrator, the Medical Director, and the Accountant are held liable for the breach of PPCC Acts in the award of the Contract to Blessing Engineering Construction Company.”
Based on the audit findings on Bong Mines Hospital operations for July 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021, and the assessment team along with the review committee, the IAA recommended the following which includes;
That MOH central administration through the former administration of BMH instructs Blessing Engineering Construction Company to complete all the work for which it was contracted i.e. the OPD was not painted, if not the Administrator and his collaborators are made to restitute the amount (US$28,850.00) in question;
Mr. Alvin Sirleaf the Administrator be questioned to bring forward those responsible for the other six (6) counts of misapplication for investigation, if found guilty, be penalized