GIPF vows to recover embezzled funds

The Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) has vowed to recover any funds that could have been lost as a result of fraud and corruption.

The pensions administrator is currently reeling from a fraud incident involving N$17 million of members' money, resulting in the arrests of three of its employees.

"In this case the matter is now with the police, and the fact that investigations are still in the preliminary stages, it's too early to determine what measures to take, but one thing for sure is that we have the system and ways to recover whatever is lost. If it wasn't for criminal proceedings, we could have snatched back everything in a snap of a finger because we know where and on what the money is used. So once the legal part is done and how it progresses, we shall know which measure to deploy to make sure we recover what is due to us," GIPF CEO David Nuyoma told The Brief.

He maintained that the fund’s internal systems had flagged the irregularities that resulted in an internal investigation being instituted and perpetrators nabbed.

“In the event of the last fraudulent activity, we picked it up immediately through our system that there were anomalies in the transactions, and instituted an internal audit, then found that they were prima facie evidence. We then reported the matter to the police, who acted swiftly and never wasted time. The same day they were with us to gather information is the same day arrests were instituted,” he said.

Commenting on allegations that some records are being deleted following the arrest of the three employees to cover up tracks, Nuyoma said, “We are yet to determine if those doing it are colluding with the suspended suspects, we are still investigating to reach to the core, and whether such clearance of information was done with permission and for what purpose. I do not want to conclude at this point. I am, however, very confident that whatever is being done in the dark shall come to light."

The GIPF boss said the fund has overhauled and strengthened its internal system which allowed the employees to make fraudulent claims.

"Human factor remains a challenge, but is the link between the systems, because these are people who are administrators and verifying, so there is a gap within the system, as the employees are likely to collude. The biggest problem is that no matter what system you have, it will still have to be administered by physical people, hence becoming problematic. However, since the last incident, we have now overhauled and changed the whole system and made it more sophisticated to eliminate any probabilities,” Nuyoma said.

“Our system is capable of detecting such activity and anyone found doing so without the required consent will be included in the ongoing investigation of fraud and will be dealt with in line with the disciplinary procedures.”

He added that the fund was in the process of determining and closing up all the loopholes that might create vulnerability in its operations, including the launch of a whistleblower platform.

"We are trying to instil a sense of ethical conduct among our employees, and eventually the public. 99% of our staff are honest and upright, however, we have this 1% that needs to be tackled out. In as much as it is a tiny proportion it can still cause huge damage to the organisation; hence we are taking this matter of zero tolerance on fraud and corruption," Nuyoma said.

GIPF is the country’s largest fund with an asset base of N$145 billion, with a statutory pension fund which provides guaranteed pension and related benefits to over 140 00 civil servants, and employees of participating employers in Namibia.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 06 September 2022 22:35

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