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Saturday 18 November 2017

Aid to Sierra Leone 'siphoned off'

British aid to Sierra Leone is being siphoned off, Denis MacShane warned MPs
British aid to Sierra Leone is being siphoned off, Denis MacShane warned MPs

British aid to Sierra Leone is being siphoned off by senior politicians in the West African country, it has been claimed.

Former foreign office minister Denis MacShane called for an investigation after hearing "alarming stories" from colleagues that funds intended for development projects were ending up in ministers' pockets.

He told MPs that money from the Department for International Development (Dfid) - which spent £47.8 million in Sierra Leone last year - was being diverted.

During Commons question time, he said: "I request that the National Audit Office looks specifically at how Dfid money in Sierra Leone is spent, because an honourable member and other friends have just come back from there with the most alarming stories of diversion of Dfid aid into the pockets of ministers down there, and we really need to get Sierra Leone under full transparent audit."

Public Accounts Commission chairman Edward Leigh said he would relay the concerns to the Comptroller and Auditor General, adding: "I'm sure he would be very happy to undertake a study in Sierra Leone if that was indeed appropriate."

Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world and was ravaged by an 11-year civil war which ended in 2002.

Dfid supports a range of projects in the country intended to promote governance, economic growth, security and stability.

Almost half of the £47.8 million aid spent in 2008-09 went on governance projects, with 23% spent on promoting growth. Health, education and other social services accounted for the remainder of the money.

Press Association

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