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Picture: Pexels

89 alleged Covid-19 TERS fraud cases being probed

By Tarryn-Leigh Solomons Time of article published May 25, 2021

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The acting Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) commissioner, Marsha Bronkhorst, says 89 cases are being investigated relating to the Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS).

She was addressing the standing committee on public accounts on Tuesday.

Committee chair Mkhuleko Hlengwa said that the UIF has been at the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons.

Bronkhorst indicated that the cases have been referred to the SA Police Service, the Hawks and the Fusion Centre.

“Of those cases, 14 employers have appeared before court, but the court cases are still being finalised. I have not received convictions as yet.”

According to Bronkhorst, recovery payments amounting to R2.2 billion have already been paid to the UIF on a voluntary basis by employers.

“We have audited payments to the value of R16.7 billion thus far. Of this amount auditing, we have identified R628 million that was incorrectly and fraudulently claimed and refunded to the UIF and/or workers entitled to this. We have had a substantial amount that was refunded to the UIF.”

She said that not all the repayments to the fund were because of wrongdoing. She said at the beginning of the TERS, the internal controls were found lacking.

“There were sometimes payments made which were duplicate payments, etc to the employers. When employers then audited their own books, they realised that there was an overpayment made to them and they refunded the money.

“For the employers who have defrauded the fund, all these employers will face the law in terms of fraud and corruption charges. We will not let anyone go aside who has defrauded the fund.

“We are also at a process where if we confirm that someone was involved in fraudulent activity by an employer, we will put that person on the blacklist and ensure that they cannot do business with the state.”

Internal fraud cases are still being investigated by the Special Investigations Unit, said Bronkhorst.

DA MP Alf Lees told Bronkhorst it’s encouraging to be getting reports of actions and results instead of hearing plans.

Political Bureau

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