Maputo — The investigation into a massive financial fraud in the Ministry of Education is now at an advanced stage, according to the Ministry’s spokesperson. Eurico Banze.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, he put the amount of money stolen in 2012 alone at around five million meticais (about 166,000 US dollars). This is much less than the estimate given the previous day by Education Minister Augusto Jone, who told reporters that around 144 million meticais had been stolen between 2006 and 2012.
Banze claimed that the Ministry had been alerted to the fraud last November by its bank, which pointed to irregularities in the payment of wages to some staff members. The Ministry spoke to the bank and conformed that the payments were indeed irregular, and Jone then ordered the Ministry’s inspectors to investigate.
He also called in the Central Office for the Fight against Corruption (GCCC), which operates out of the Attorney-General’s office.
The officials associated with the fraud have been identified, and four have been suspended, including the head of the Ministry’s financial department, said Banze. The fraud took the form of draining money from the Ministry’s account through a fictitious wages sheet, in addition to the real one.
“We hope that at the due time, we can take decisions so that situations of this sort are not repeated”, Banze added.
“Investigations are continuing in depth to unmask any possible links between the group that has now been suspended and other staff of the Ministry or of other institutions, since it’s clear that the stolen money was also deposited in the accounts of individuals who have nothing to do with the Ministry”, Banze said.
Other people were on the list of suspects, he said, without naming them. They had links with the staff members who have been suspended, and Banze believed that, when they are questions, more facts about the fraud will come to the surface.