UIF employees under investigation for theft of close to R6 million

Sunday Times reported on the apprehension of an alleged fraudster to whom TERS funds were diverted.

Sunday Times has reported that nearly R6 million in Covid-19 relief funds, which was intended for 200 employees of Pretoria labour broker CSG Resources, were diverted to one man. An individual named Tshepang Phohole’s was nabbed after his bank account allegedly went from having R12 to more than R5 million in an instant, according to Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) investigators who, in the article refer to the transaction as a glaring instance of fraud and money laundering. The cash was allegedly diverted to Phohole after a system change at the UIF, in terms of which claims could be paid directly to individuals rather than to their employers.  

The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) relief system, which has been a vehicle for disbursing funds for the Covid-19 Temporary Employment Relief Scheme (Ters) was allegedly manipulated when the millions allegedly sent to Phohole were then quickly funnelled to friends so that, within five days, close to R5.7 million had been spent.  CSG Resources had submitted its application to the UIF and, inexplicably, the entire amount was paid into the accused’s account. 

The AFU and police are now probing the UIF to establish whether employees acted in concert with Phohole. On Friday, the graft-busting unit of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) secured a preservation order, freezing money in 28 bank accounts.

The NPA’s Sipho Ngwema said:  “We placed our focus on securing the stolen money as quickly as possible. Law enforcement agencies have come together to form an oversight structure which seeks out Covid-19-related corruption and that is how this incident was picked up.”