Following revelation of alleged overpricing vis-à-vis vehicles procured by ministry of defence with Palo Conteh as then Minister, it has emerged that companies named in the 2015 Audit Report (Davida Enterprise and West Star General Supplies) are no doubt fake and wholly fictional.
NEW AGE’s findings at office of Corporate Affairs Commission specified how so-called Davida Enterprise and West Star General Supplies, companies contracted by the ministry of defence for the procurement of vehicles aren’t in the record books Corporate Affairs Commission, rather are believed to be unreal, and by extension unscrupulously fabricated.
Names similar to Davida Enterprise and West Star General Supplies on data base records of Corporate Affairs speak about Davida Construction and West Star Industry.
Sources say the inclusion of the two fictional entities (Davida Construction and West Star Industry) as companies awarded the contract for the procuring of vehicles for ministry of defence was only meant to convince the auditors into believing that moneys spent on the said transaction were used thoughtfully and for the right and legal purpose.
It is true the 2015 audit report also explained that ‘a comparison of invoice prices, NPPA price norm, current market prices and prices of similar vehicles procured by government agencies, disclosed how vehicles were overpriced by Le22 billion (US$4,455,125 @ Le4, 958) and Le8 billion (US$1,623,600@Le4, 958) by West Star General Supplies and Davida Enterprise respectively.’
The report revealed how there was overpricing of vehicles contract awarded by the former Minister of Defence Alfred Palo Conteh to the above companies.
That how the overpricing was a clear manifestation of an overall disregard for the principle of economy in the use of public funds by persons acting on behalf of government in the contract agreements.
One of number of issues still outstanding from 2014 audit report is the November 2013 contract, which the former Minister of Defence, Palo, acting on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone, entered into agreements for the procurement and supply of 126 common user and specialised vehicles in two lots of 69 and 57 with Mr. Alimamy Kamara representing West Star General Supplies and Mr. David Conteh representing Davida Enterprise (now proven to be fictional companies) involving the sums of US$10,654,168 and US$5,058,368 respectively.
Other issues identified by the Auditors in the said contract relate to what was described as “ambiguity of specification in bid documents.”
“Three of the vehicles supplied were automatic transmission, in contravention of the specification of manual transmission, specified in the agreement.”
Some of the vehicles delivered did not match or were contrary to the specification in the contract agreement.
Two Toyota Hiace ambulances were supplied instead of Toyota Hiace mini buses,” the report states.
Also, tonnage of 20 Atego Mercedes Benz vehicles delivered differs, 10 had four tyres at the rear and the other 10 had two tyres at the rear, yet prices were invoiced the same irrespective of difference in specifications highlighted.
“Two of the Atego Mercedes Benz vehicles received were delivered defective and immediately returned to the supplier in October 2014.
The two defective vehicles were not disclosed in the pre-inspection report and up to the time of writing the report (September 2015), these two vehicles totaled US$620,000 had not been replaced or fixed by the contractor, West Star, the report continued.
When Palo Conteh was contacted on this in 2015 as he acts as Chief Executive Officer of National Ebola Response Center (NERC), he said he was not aware of the report and that the auditors did not get on to him for explanation.
Now that Palo is no longer a Minister, but left questionable financial issues unsolved, there is growing public demand for a probe on alleged overpricing of vehicles procured by the Ministry of Defence under his (Palo) watchful eyes as then political head.