Senior government auditors have discovered that, most contractors/suppliers inflate prices for equipment, goods and services rendered to the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Defence.
In 2016, the Ministry of Defence awarded a contract for the supply of military kits and uniforms to a company belonging to Mr. Musa Antar, a young Lebanese businessman.
The contractor was paid ten percent of the contract amount totaling US$3,346,181.68 (three million three hundred and forty six thousand one hundred and eighty one thousand and sixty eight United States dollars). The actual amount for the contract is US$33,461.86 (thirty three million four hundred and sixty one thousand and eighty six thousand United States dollars).
Auditors have discovered that the contract price was inflated by about thirty to forty percent. This has not been independently confirmed by the Global Times.
Payments were made to the contractor even though the Government had announced a freeze on all expenditures because of the current austere financial conditions in the country.
It is understood that the technical evaluation committee did not conduct a diligent review of the suitability of the contractor and his capacity to deliver the goods for which he has received some huge payments from the Government of Sierra Leone.
Many people fear that based on past experience, the contractor might attempt to supply sub-standard goods which might lead to a huge loss for the Government of Sierra Leone.
Mr. Musa Antar was last year awarded a contract to supply fertilizer to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security even though at the time of the award of the contract, he did not have the capacity to perform on his own.
Sometime this year, Mr. Musa Antar was detained at the CID Headquarters after he allegedly threatened and/or insulted a consul representing an important Middle Eastern country resident in Sierra Leone.
It took the intervention of the President of the Lebanese Community Committee in Sierra Leone, Mr. Samir Hassanyeh for the CID to release Mr. Antar from detention with a stern warning not to threaten a diplomat again.
Other contracts awarded by the Ministry of Defence are being investigated by the Global Times to ascertain whether or not the contractors/suppliers have complied with the terms of the contracts.
Mr. Musa Antar was reportedly holidaying in Lebanon when the Global Times tried to reach him on the phone last night.