South Africa News

Scopa hears SIU will spend R120 million to recover looted funds

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is expected to spend around R120 million on recovering funds looted from the state.

Briefing Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), SIU head Andy Mothibi said his unit was not spared from the cuts to government’s expenditure.

The SIU’s chief financial officer (CFO) Andre Gernandt said the cost incurred on investigations at the end of December topped R70 million.

“This amount is made up of different resources in the SIU. Of all our operational resources, there are about 125 full-time equivalents currently working on the Covid-19 investigations out of a possible 300.

“We estimated that figure because at the moment they are working full-time on it. The [R70 million figure] could go up to R120 million at end of the financial year in March 2021. These amounts exclude the legal costs,” he said.

Gernandt said they have engaged National Treasury on whether the unit can get central funding.

“We were, however, not successful and up to date, of the approximately 84 institutions that are currently being investigated, we have not been able to sign many of the letters of engagement and in fact there is a general push back on that.

“We would still further engage National Treasury to see is there anyway we could receive central funding on our costs incurred. This is on the R120 million and civil litigation costs,” he said.

The SIU’s ongoing probe into the PPE scandals has zoomed in on 2,556 PPE contracts valued at more than R13.3 billion.

Last week, Mothibi announced their probe found a complete breakdown of the checks and balances in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE).

It also found that names of service providers were determined before any supply chain process commenced and, in some instances, PPE was packaged under cloned labels.

Mothibi said allegations were received in respect of 189 state institutions and entities.

“The SIU obtained documents in respect of the approved allegations and from that, 2,556 PPE contracts awarded for Covid-19 related services were identified for investigation.

“These contracts were awarded to 1,774 service providers. By value, 26% of these contracts have been finalized, 51% are currently being assessed and 22% have yet to commence,” he said.

Mothibi said the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has provided prosecutors to guide criminal investigations and will prioritise consideration to the matters referred.

“While the investigations are still underway and we continue to submit reports to the president, we continue to execute on the outcomes and follow up on the referrals to ensure that there is consequence management.

“We are focusing on ensuring that there is accountability at all levels of the administration including executive authority accountability. Our collaboration and cooperation with other agencies in the Fusion Centre has proved valuable,” he said.

-The Citizen

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