Forensic auditors to start an investigation on covid-19 TERS

UIF appoints forensic auditors to start the “follow the money project” for covid-19 TERS payments

​The Department of Labour says companies that received money through the Covid-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (Covid-19 TERS) can expect a knock on their doors from forensic auditors that will be examining their financial records to check the authenticity of their claims and verify if the money was paid over to workers.

Companies that have cases to answer for illegally receiving those funds, will be made to account through the legal processes.

The Unemployment Insurance Fund’s (UIF) has appointed seven (7) companies with auditing, accounting, and forensic investigation expertise to “follow the money” for all Covid-19 TERS payments.

The auditing firms will hit the ground running during the first week of December 2020 and employers who benefitted are urged to prepare the following information either manually or electronically:
• UIF Covid-19 TERS application pack;
• Bank statements relating to Covid-19 TERS application;
• Each employee file; and
• Payroll report from 01 January 2020 to July 2020.

The Acting UIF Commissioner, Marsha Bronkhorst says the Fund is serious about eliminating fraud given the plethora of complaints and allegations that some companies were stealing the money that was intended for their workers.

Earlier this month, a case of fraud was opened by the Department of Employment and Labour inspectors against a Western Cape NPO which is accused of illegally applying and receiving close to R5 million from the Fund.

The Special Investigation Unit’s (SIU) fraud investigations have also led to several arrests and charges, as well as bank accounts being frozen and assets seized.

Bronkhorst says that from the beginning of the Covid-19 TERS Benefit payments, UIF has always been cognisant of possible risks of fraud, hence the plan to ‘follow the money’ was always there.

“Our intention, as the UIF was always to support companies, workers, and our economy during the lockdown, but the plan was always to conduct a comprehensive audit of all the payments”.

“I am therefore urging all companies and employers who have benefitted from Covid 19 TERS to co-operate with the forensic auditors and supply all the required information within the specified time frames. Failure to comply will lead to legal action,” the Acting Commissioner stressed”.

The Covid-19 TERS Relief Scheme was established to assist employees who lost income during the lockdown periods. Since March 2020, just over R 54-billion has been paid in 12 757 287 payments through 1 million-plus employers.