World Investigation into $ 17 million in funds embezzled in...

Investigation into $ 17 million in funds embezzled in fraud

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648x415 soignants hopital soweto afrique sud 25 janvier 2021

Caregivers at a hospital in Soweto, South Africa, January 25, 2021. – MICHELE SPATARI / AFP

After investigation, the fraud bill is heavy. In South Africa, $ 17 million in funds intended for the fight against Covid-19 have been diverted into fraud, acts of corruption and overbilling, the head of a team of investigators said on Friday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa himself ordered in 2020 the launch of an investigation after the publication of information indicating government contracts awarded on the basis of political favoritism. Head of investigators Andy Mothibi announced that cases had been filed in a special tribunal aimed at recovering $ 17.3 million in improperly allocated public funds.

Overbilling and political pressure

“We must recover this money and return it to the state,” said Andy Mothibi, who heads the Special Investigations Unit, an independent organization responsible in particular for the fight against corruption, during a television statement.

Investigators uncovered numerous irregularities in the use of public funds: overbilling, purchases of unnecessary products, awarding of contracts to unauthorized companies … “In some cases, political pressure was exerted,” Andy added. Mothibi.

Some 40 cases will be investigated for possible fraud or acts of corruption. In total, South Africa spent $ 2 billion on purchases related to the novel coronavirus pandemic, between April and November 2020, according to the Treasury Department. Expenditures on almost half of this amount are under investigation. With at least 1.46 million recorded infections and more than 44,600 deaths, South Africa has the worst record in terms of numbers of cases and deaths on the continent.

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