Dept’s 14 fraud cases

2015-07-30 08:16


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THE Department of Transport has 14 internal investigations running ­concurrently probing the alleged fraudulent spend of more than R500 million.

This stark admittance was made in documents outlining progress of the ­internal probes presented to the KZN Legislature transport portfolio ­committee this week.

Among the investigations is the allegation that departmental officials, prior to June 2012 when an internal probe ­began, appointed consultants fraudulently costing taxpayers R263 million.

Similarly prior to when the probe ­began in May 2013, supply chain ­management irregularities were ­estimated to be above R200 million.

Chairperson of the portfolio committee Timothy Kaunda admitted that the number of forensic investigations within the department was “worrisome”.

“For people who work for the government you would hope they would adhere to the laws. The level of corruption does worry us. This ANC government is ­particular with issues of corruption and we do seek adequate punishment; it is just that the media chooses to not report on this,” said Kaunda.

He said the committee did believe ­sufficient action was taken when investigations were completed and findings made and that they supported criminally charging offenders.

“As oversight we can’t be involved in the investigation but we do see them once they are completed,” said Kaunda.

But DA MPL in the transport ­portfolio committee Rafeek Shah said he believed that offenders “rarely” faced ­serious consequences.

“There is no way recoup this money and these investigations go on forever. How many [accused] go to jail or have property attached? Very few,” said Shah.

Corruption Watch CEO David Lewis said one of their concerns and part of their advocacy work was to pursue ­adequate punishment against officials found guilty internally.

“[Government] does not punish enough. The state of the National ­Prosecuting Authority and the specialised SAPS units needs to be tightened.

“We [Corruption Watch] look at all sorts of ways of strengthening the ­punishment regime by pursuing professional bodies that the offending individual may be part of and urge them to ­pursue disciplinary action,” said Lewis.

He said what was disturbing was that senior officials found guilty “often go away without retribution”.

“It is difficult to say whether as a country we are experiencing more or less corruption but there is a sufficient high level [of corruption] to make people aware,” said Lewis.

Meanwhile, the KZN Department of Health has completed four internal ­investigations totalling more than R1,2 billion, a special portfolio ­committee meeting heard this week.

Two of the four cases have since been forwarded to the KZN Treasury and the SAPS to determine if any assets of the accused should be seized. The investigation into the biggest theft totalling R917 million is currently being ­challenged by an implicated senior ­official, found guilty of “unauthorised interference” in the procurement ­processes. The official was dismissed in October 2014 and the matter is currently with the bargaining council.

Additional reporting by Amil Umraw

THE summaries on the allegations into the Department of Transport’s ongoing internal forensic investigations reads like a “how to” guide to fraud and corruption.

The progress report put before the portfolio committee found the bulk of the investigations began in 2014 totalling R46 million.

But the biggest amounts under the microscope were in 2012 and 2013 with values of R263 million and R200 million respectively. To date, investigations in 2015 total just under R16 million.

The rap sheet, among others, alleges:

• Officials awarding tenders and receiving kickbacks;

• Manipulation of quotes;

• Fraudulent appointment of consultants;

• Payment of fraudulent invoices;

• Theft of assets;

• Irregular payments;

• Overtime fraud.

The report said all forensic cases currently being investigated are forwarded to the Provincial Treasury for “further investigation”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  department of transport

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