SIU Report into COVID-19 corruption released: R551m earmarked for recovery

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President Cyril Ramaphosa released the final report of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) investigation into the government’s public procurement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the last 18 months, the SIU has looked into more than 5000 contracts with a value of R14,3 billion and the majority of the finalised investigations have been found to be irregular.

SIU REVEALS FINDINGS AFTER 18 MONTHS

The 737-page report released on Tuesday, 25 January, does not include the details of the ongoing investigations by the SIU – these are expected to be finalised between March and April 2022 and a supplementary report will be given to Ramaphosa at the end of June.

In July 2020, Ramaphosa appointed the SIU to probe any allegations related to the misuse of COVID-19 funds across all spheres of the government. He also gave the Unit the right to launch civil proceedings to recover the funds allegedly stolen from the State.

The report revealed that 5467 contracts – worth R14,3 billion – were awarded to 3066 service providers.

The SIU has finalised investigations related to 4549 contracts and found that 2803 of those were awarded irregularly – meaning that 62% of the vetted contracts were not above board.

“This investigation targeted individuals and institutions who believed they could exploit a moment of national vulnerability to enrich themselves and those with whom they colluded to abuse public resources.

“It is unacceptable that so many contracts associated with saving lives and protecting livelihoods were irregular, unlawful or fraudulent,” said Ramaphosa.

The President said the SIU’s work demonstrated the State’s determination to “root out corruption” and hold those responsible for it accountable.

The report detailed the matters the SIU has referred to the National Prosecuting. Ramaphosa said the relevant parties will “finalise the process of bringing wrongdoers to book…”

MONEY BE RECOVERED, PROSECUTION REFFERALS

The Presidency said 45 matters – worth a combined R2,1 billion – have been referred to the Special Tribunal on Corruption, Fraud and Illicit Money Flows. This special tribunal is mandated to recover public funds that have been stolen from the fiscus through corruption, fraud and illicit money flows.

The State said the civil action, which the tribunal engages in, is less time-consuming than adversarial matters.

The SIU has made 386 referrals to the NPA and three referrals for Executive Action. In addition, 224 referrals have been made for disciplinary action against officials in government or other entities.

“The rand value of actual cash and assets to be recovered on the basis of the investigation is R551.5 million, while cash and assets recovered to date total R34.2 million,” said the Presidency.

The potential loss prevented by the investigation amounts to R114,2 million while R170,4 million in contracts have been set aside.

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