AG Maluleke: Authorities hard at work trying to recover looted COVID funds

The AG revealed on Wednesday that more than 1,500 directors of companies doing business with the state received grants during the pandemic.

FILE: Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke on 9 December 2020 delivered the second COVID-19 relief fund audit report in Pretoria. Picture: @SAgovnews/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke said authorities would be trying to recover the millions of rands meant to help poor South Africans deal with the COVID-19 lockdown that were stolen by greedy fraudsters.

The AG revealed on Wednesday that more than 1,500 directors of companies doing business with the state received grants during the pandemic.

The South African Social Security Agency said all the flagged beneficiaries were being investigated and planning was under way for an appropriate debt recovery process.

Maluleke said a similar trend was picked up in disbursements made by the tourism relief fund, but auditors were told that doing business with the government did not necessarily disqualify beneficiaries.

The ongoing special audit by the auditor-general looks into how the R500 billion for the response to the pandemic COVID-19 was spent.

Maluleke said the culture of non-compliance in government must be rooted out: “Had the funds been managed better, had there been internal control and disciplines in place, we could have made sure that the R3.5 billion didn’t leave and now we’re spending time and effort trying to recover it.”

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