South Africa: Fraud Awareness and Investigations Intensifies the Fight Against Fraud and Corruption

press release

The Fraud Awareness and Investigations (FAI) Unit held Fraud Awareness Presentations for all Department of Public Works (DPW) Head office units from 25 June 2012 to 29 June 2012.

The presentations covered the following key areas: Definition of fraud and corruption; The effect of fraud and corruption within DPW and the economy as a whole; Educating staff about DPW's stance against fraud and corruption; Clarifying the DPW integrated anti-corruption strategy; and reporting mechanisms available to DPW employees.

FAI is a Directorate within the Chief Directorate Internal Audit and Investigation Services. It functionally reports to the Audit and Risk Management Committee of the Department and administratively to the Director-General (DG).

The role of the FAI directorate is: Analysing and monitoring Fraud and Corruption risks as part of risk assessment; Investigating allegations of Fraud and Corruption; Recommending and supporting disciplinary action against employees (Fraud & Corruption); Referring allegations of Fraud and Corruption to relevant law enforcement agencies; Keeping a register of all allegations reported; Creating Awareness and promoting a culture of anti-fraud and corruption within DPW.

The Fraud Awareness Presentations form part of the FAI's Fraud Prevention Strategy where the unit visits all DPW regions on a yearly basis to conduct workshops and presentations on fraud awareness. The unit also rolls out campaigns and programmes such as the Zero Tolerance campaign which was launched in 2007 at a departmental Fraud Conference at Birchwood to raise awareness, enlighten, educate and communicate to staff members on matters around fraud and corruption within the department.

The workshops have so far been conducted in all regions and head office was the last stop for the past financial year.

The FAI presentation defines fraud and corruption as follows:

Fraud: " the unlawful and intentional making of a misrepresentation which causes actual or potential prejudice to another; the use of this term is in its widest possible meaning and includes all aspects of economic crime and acts of dishonesty. In other words fraud can be described as any conduct or behaviour of which dishonesty representation and or appropriation forms an element.

Corruption: any conduct or behaviour in relation to persons entrusted with responsibilities in the public office that violates their duties as public officials and is aimed at obtaining undue gratification of any kind for themselves or for others."

According to the Sunday Times, South Africa's civil servants have scored more than half-a-billion rand in government tenders, which were irregularly awarded to their spouses and relatives.

Yet irregular tenders are not the only form of fraud and corruption. There are various acts that make-up fraud and corruption and the following were highlighted as being the most common within the department:

Bribery

Collusion

Fronting

Cover quoting

Unfair preferential treatment of suppliers

Misrepresentation by contractors

Conflict of interest

Manipulation

Falsification of records or supporting documentation

Unfair distribution of incentives, procurement, fraud etc.

According to the FIA unit, circumstances or fraud motivators include greed, boredom, financial problems including debt and living beyond our means, low loyalty, revenge and a need to feed an addiction such as gambling, drugs and/or drinking. During the presentation it was noted that not everyone who finds themselves faced with the above circumstances is corrupt, but such individuals are more susceptible to committing fraud.

"Yet as much as individuals may be susceptible to committing fraud, the department as well may create loopholes that make itself an easy target for fraudsters to prey on. In such cases the department would not have followed correct procedures in the appointments of employees resulting in a lack of competent personnel who are not sufficiently qualified for the tasks they are given, lack of proper administering of documents and records, operating on a crisis mode, and a lack of delegation of authority, among others, says Ms Alice Phophi, Assistant Director: Investigations.

According to the (FAI) unit it is the responsibility of all employees in the department to take part in fighting fraud and corruption.

One way of fighting fraud and corruption is by reporting incidents thereof as follows:

For open reporting whistle-blowers (members of the public, public servants, service providers) may relay their suspicions verbally in writing or telephonically to the following contact details:

Chief Audit Executive

Tel: 012 406 1335

Acting Director: FA & Inv.

Tel: 012 406 1328/2155

Alternatively, for those who wish to remain anonymous they may choose to use the below hotline:

Anonymous: - 0800 701 701 (National Anti-Corruption Hotline)

You and I can put a stop to fraud and corruption "Say no to fraud and Corruption and report all suspicious Acts!"-

- Department of Public Works

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