A third of the $18 million slated to combat Ebola in Sierra Leone may have gone to pay non-existent “ghost” workers, a government audit finds.
A government audit has found that $6 million of $18 million in treasury funds and public donations, earmarked to fight Sierra Leone’s battle against Ebola, cannot be accounted for and may have been used to pay non-existent “ghost” workers, reports Thomas K. Grose for National Public Radio. An additional $10.2 million also remains undocumented.
The disease has so far claimed 3,800 lives in Sierra Leone.
According to global corruption monitor, Transparency International, a quarter of the total amount of money allocated for humanitarian assistance worldwide is typically lost to crime, Grose reports.
Craig Fagan, the head of global policy for TI, told Grose countries that need aid the most are the most vulnerable to corruption.
It doesn’t matter if the aid is from local or international sources, he says. It’s all at risk of being lost to theft or mismanagement: “This is a problem with funds from all sources,” he says, including money from local and foreign government agencies, the United Nations and charities, Grose reports.
While Fagan does credit Sierra Leone for its effort to track the funds, it remains to be seen if there will be a follow-up investigation. He notes that another government audit of assistance funds, relating to a cholera epidemic that struck the country several years ago, uncovered “holes in the money trail” but “no one was ever held accountable”.