6 July 2018

Namibia: Two Rössing Employees Cleared of Fraud

The Rössing Uranium mine's internal disciplinary committee has found two employees not guilty of fraud.

Rio Tinto, the international parent company of Rössing Uranium, also reviewed the internal disciplinary process in February in which the alleged fraud involving a million-dollar contract for the installation of a fire suppression system took place.

The matter came to light late last year, prompting internal investigations and the suspension of two workers.

A contract for the installation of a fire suppression system worth about N$1 million was awarded to a local company.

It was alleged that the two employees, one of them in a managerial position at the time, authorised the payment for the fire system, without administrative approval from RÖssing. The payment was supposed to be made on delivery of the system, but the system had still not been dispatched by the supplier at Walvis Bay, who had ordered it from the United Kingdom (UK).

It was alleged that the unauthorised payment by the two employees to the supplier raised suspicions of possible collusion.

Rössing ended up paying almost N$100 000, on top of the original tender bid price for a suppression system. Price escalation was said to be the basis of the alleged fraud charges.

Rössing managing director Werner Duvenhage told The Namibian earlier this week that as they are part of the Rio Tinto Group, Rössing follows international guidelines in how they do business; and how they behave in line with the company's values of safety, teamwork, respect, integrity and excellence.

"Allegations contrary to these guidelines will always be investigated, and even the investigations have to follow the guidelines. We followed due process," he said.

He explained that Rössing had to pay extra because the mine was responsible for a delay of nearly three years (since the tender was awarded) in having the goods procured from the UK.

Duvenhage said the two employees decided to make the prepayment to prevent any further price escalations, especially considering the slow progress on the overall project.

"In this case, the procedures followed by, and the intention of, the two employees were by the guidelines.

"The company paid what they had to pay. As the spokesperson of Rössing, I am happy with the outcome of the process. They were found not guilty, and are back at work," he stated.

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