Liberia watchdog says some Ebola funds unaccounted for

A health worker injects a woman with an Ebola vaccine during a trial in Monrovia, February 2, 2015. REUTERS/James Giahyue (Reuters)

MONROVIA (Reuters) - A report by Liberia’s anti-corruption watchdog found some $800,000 spent in the fight against Ebola at the height of the outbreak of the disease last year was not properly accounted for, most of it passing through the defense ministry. The General Auditing Commission (GAC) report covering the period from August to October 2014 analyzed more than $13 million spent by the National Ebola Trust Fund (NETF). The funds mostly came from foreign donations. "The conduct of the affairs of the ...(NETF) were marred by financial irregularities and material control deficiencies," read the report, published on the GAC web site. The Ebola epidemic, which began in December 2013, has claimed nearly 10,600 lives, mostly in Liberia, neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Liberia's last known Ebola patient died on March 27, starting a 42-day countdown for the country to be declared free of the virus. The government said in a statement that it welcomed the report and pledged to take appropriate corrective measures, including possible prosecutions and tighter spending controls. It said auditees could still bring appropriate documentation to a public hearing by the National Legislature. The audit did not include donations from international organizations including the World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign donors whose contribution did not flow through the NETF. (Reporting by James Giahyue; Editing by Daniel Flynn and John Stonestreet)