An Office of the Inspector General (OIG) investigation found evidence of fake invoices and fictitious vendors in the procurement of office equipment for the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation, a Principal Recipient of Global Fund grants.
In an assessment of the ministry made in 2011 by the Local Fund Agent, losses of USD 167,947 were highlighted in the purchase of non-health products. In its investigation, the OIG identified a further USD 70,510 of compromised expenditure.
Sierra Leone Health Minister Miatta Kargbo
The OIG investigators found fake invoices dating from 2008-2011, some of which appeared to be in the handwriting of a ministry finance officer, as well as examples of suppliers who did not actually exist.
There was also evidence of bid rigging in the procurement process with ministry staff producing false quotations and multiple vendors identified as being controlled by a single entity. The practice of submitting different quotations for the same tender from a consortium of companies owned by the same entity creates the impression of fair competition when in fact there is none.
The Global Fund is seeking to recover the compromised funds and has precluded the implicated vendors. At the Global Fund Secretariat’s request, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation has outsourced the procurement of its non-health products to the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
The ministry held its fiduciary agent liable for the sum of USD 167,947 identified by the Local Fund Agent and recovered part of it by withholding fees owed. The ministry has since changed its fiduciary agent.
The OIG has also recommended that, in the future, grant agreements are amended to ensure optimum bookkeeping with rigorous record-keeping of each beneficiary and payment made with supporting documentation.
The Global Fund is an international financing institution that fights AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria with a 21st century approach: partnership, transparency, constant learning and results-based funding.