Sierra Leone has had a long and painful history of corruption. As Desmond Luke,a reputed former Chief Justice of Sierra Leone puts it, “if you have been here for some time, you will know that anybody and everybody is stealing everything”. The root causes of corruption in Sierra Leone have been complex and have tended to conform over time to a combination of poverty, greed and low levels of remuneration.
Besides its moral aspects, corruption has had other negative consequences on Sierra Leone. Politically, it has affected the efficacy of governance by undermining the rule of law, and violating the principles of accountability and probity, thereby perpetuating impunity. Economically, corruption has had a negative impact on the economy by withholding resources that could have been put to the production of goods and services for Sierra Leoneans.
Its effects on corporate governance have been to increase the cost of doing business and limiting the competitive edge of firms in the economy. As regards socio-economic development, corruption has undermined the country’s poverty reduction efforts. Since the institutions and public officials predominantly involved in corruption are linked to the provision of essential services, corruption has inhibited the pace of socio-economic development.
A number of legislative frameworks for fighting corruption have been implemented over the years. These include the: Anti-Corruption Act, 2000, Anti-Corruption Commission, Office of the Ombudsman, Anti Money Laundering Act 2005 and the new Anti-Corruption Act, 2008. The scope of offences under the new Anti-Corruption Act has been widened and the Anti-Corruption Commission is expanding its operations to all the regions of the country.The Acts for fighting corruption, especially the new Anti-Corruption Act, 2008, are in line with the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Combating Corruption and Related Offences.Sierra Leone is a signatory to them both.These regulatory frameworks have been strengthened by the creation of bodies such as the National Public Procurement Authority, the Audit Service of Sierra Leone, the Public Accounts Committee and District Budget Oversight Committees.