R3,4 billion has been voluntarily returned to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) by employers who benefited from the Covid-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (Covid-19 TERS).
The figure was revealed by UIF Commissioner, Teboho Maruping, during a media briefing in Cape Town, Western Cape on 29 June 2022.
Maruping said that as a result of media coverage of employers being arrested and appearing in court for Covid-19 TERS related fraud, more employers were now returning funds to the UIF of their own accord.
“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 money to the Fund,” said Maruping.
UIF Deputy Director: Governance, Smiso Nkosi, told journalists 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 is broken down as follows:
- 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 explained that 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 which to check whether information used on the application was not manipulated; and
- Covid-19 TERS monies were not abused or misused by the employers.
Nkosi said the UIF has appointed six forensic auditing firms to conduct Phase 2 of the “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 which includes R11,2 billion for the Western Cape. Buthelezi added that from the 750 cases fraud received; 102 were referred to Fusion Centre for criminal investigation and prosecution; and 172 cases were referred to the SIU for further investigation.
UIF Director in the Western Cape, Siphokazi Qasana, told journalists that slightly over R3 billion was paid to clients in the province for normal benefits such as Unemployment and Maternity in 2021/2022.