By Alpha Kamara in New York
The Clerk of the US Southern District Court of New York, Ruby Krajick on Thursday May 27, 2021 confirmed service of the notice of motion against the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the United Nations in New York through the country’s Foreign Minister, Prof. Davis Francis.
The Sierra Leone government has 60 days to file a response to the notice of motion, failing which a judgement in default will be entered against its Sierra Leone Mission in New York. This is according to a publication from the Africanist Press. The publication comes few days after it published a report of alleged corruption into the rehabilitation of the country’s permanent mission’s office in Manhattan New York.
The report alleges that senior government officials in Freetown have been using the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry and its diplomatic missions to transfer millions of dollars to international destinations for supposed purposes of infrastructure maintenance, including the renovation of diplomatic buildings and offices. Evidence now points to the fact that most, if not all, of these infrastructural projects are never actually undertaken, and the monies may have been diverted and used for other purposes, the AP report said.
Documents obtained by the Africanist Press, including evidence of wire transfers and other banking transactions, show that despite the transfer of over US$3.2 million in June and September 2019, for the renovation of the country’s diplomatic mission to the United Nations in New York, no substantial work has been done on the renovations, raising questions regarding the potential use of the funds that were transferred for the project since 2019.
“Africanist Press discovered that at least Le30.2 billion (over US$3.2 million) was transferred between 14th June 2019 and 5th September 2019 from the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry to the Sierra Leone Mission in New York for renovation and construction work at the Chancery Building in New York. We tracked at least 8 wire transfer transactions totaling Le 20,070,845,946 (about US$2.1 million) by Foreign Affairs officials between 24th May 2019, and 24th September 2019, alone. These transactions included two SWIFT transfers (FT1916454098 and FT1924808290) in the amounts of Le7,665,845,933.49 (about US$800,000) and Le9,329,999,975.14 (about US$1 million) carried out on 13th June 2019, and 5th September 2019 noted specifically as payments towards the renovation of the Chancery Building of the Sierra Leone Mission in New York. Almost two years later, the renovation work on the Chancery Building remains stalled”.
Meanwhile, a press release from Sierra Leone’s Foreign Affairs Ministry refuted the corruption allegation but accepted the issue of unsatisfied neighbors.
The attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has been drawn to media reports relating to the on-going renovation and refurbishment of the Chancery Building of the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the United Nations in New York. Those reports are substantially incorrect and misleading. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation makes the following clarifications:
1. The building in question, otherwise known as the Chancery Building, is a townhouse sharing party walls with adjacent buildings.
2. Over the past decade, it had been left to significantly deteriorate to be point of being inhabitable, and the Mission was forced to evacuate to another building. A plan to completely reconstruct the entire building befitting our Permanent Mission in New York was initiated in December 2016.
3. The reconstruction effort, however, stalled in September 2017 due in large part to the unavailability of funds.
4. When the New Direction Government of His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio assumed office in 2018, the reconstruction effort was revived with the release of funds. The plan was to complete and handover for the use of the Sierra Leone Mission in New York within a short period. The structural integrity of the building when completed will create additional office space for future growth befitting a Chancery Building in New York.
6. Work was set to recommence when neighbors adjacent to the building initiated legal proceedings against the Sierra Leone Mission in New York on allegations of encroachment, fire safety concerns.
The Mission said it attempted to intervene and open up channels of communication for dialogue with the neighbors, but the neighbors proved to be non-cooperative.
One thought on “New York Court serves legal notice to the Sierra Leone Mission in New York “Africanist Press””
When will government officials stop misussing poor taxpayers money, the ordinary man will call it fraudulent convertion.