Chris Ndaliso
Senior journalist
2 minute read
4 Jul 2022
06:52

Employers return R3 billion unduly benefitted from Covid-19 relief fund

Chris Ndaliso

As a result of the media headlines of employers being arrested and appearing in court for Covid-19 Ters-related fraud, UIF said more employers were now returning monies to the UIF of their own accord.

Employers return Ters funds

The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has received over R3 billion from employers who unduly benefitted from the Covid-19 Ters.

The amount was from employers around the country who voluntarily returned it to the UIF purse.

UIF commissioner Teboho Maruping revealed the figure during a recent media briefing in Cape Town.

The money was paid back by employers from various provinces, including KwaZulu-Natal, but the department could not tell the amount that came from the province because of the complexity of the process.

The department however confirmed that there were at least three Covid-19 Ters-related matters in the hands of the law enforcement agencies.

Maruping said as a result of the media headlines of employers being arrested and appearing in court for Covid-19 Ters-related fraud, more employers were now returning monies to the UIF of their own accord.

“There is R3,4 billion that has been voluntarily returned to the UIF by employers who benefitted from the Covid-19 Ters. As we anticipate more arrests and convictions through our investigative partnerships with law enforcement agencies and ‘follow the money’ project, we expect that more employers will continue coming forward and to pay back the money to the fund,” said Maruping.

UIF Deputy Director in governance, Smiso Nkosi, said that at least R14,1 billion that was disbursed through Covid-19 Ters had been audited during phase one of the “follow the money” project.

He said the R14,1 billion was broken down as: R12,8 billion was audited and deemed as accurate payments; R918 million had been recovered to the UIF’s coffers; and R387 million was suspected to be fraudulent payments and referred for further investigation.

Nkosi said the audit process of the “follow the money” project entails checking whether the employer exists; verifying that workers are employed by the company that claimed; proof that the Covid-19 Ters monies reached the intended beneficiaries at the right time; accuracy of the claims information in order to check whether information used on the application was not manipulated; and Covid-19 Ters monies were not abused or misused by the employers.

He said the UIF has appointed six forensic auditing firms to conduct Phase 2 of “follow the money” project which starts in July 2022 and is expected to conclude in 12 months.

UIF director: communication and marketing, Makhosonke Buthelezi, said to date, R61 billion was paid for Covid-19 Ters nationally.

Buthelezi added that of the 750 cases of fraud received 102 were referred to Fusion Centre (a unit within the department) for criminal investigation and prosecution and 172 cases were referred to the SIU for further investigation.