Foreign Ministry's financial statement of 2018 includes 27 cases of suspected misuse of funds

Ministry for Foreign Affairs 7.3.2019 11.22
News item

A total of 27 substantiated or suspected cases of misuse of development cooperation funds were reported to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in 2018. Decision involving claims for recovery were made for nearly EUR 30,000.

In 2015–2018, the Foreign Ministry was reported of 16 to 28 cases of misuse of funds every year.  There is a great variety in the annual number and sums involved.

In 2018, the number of reports remained approximately the same as in the previous years: the Ministry was informed of 27 suspected cases of misuse of funds.  These were related to bilateral development cooperation administered by the Ministry, cooperation with civil society organisations, and a programme for regional and humanitarian assistance. The information is included in the Foreign Ministry's financial statement of 2018.

The biggest sums involved cases in Zambia and Kyrgyzstan. In Zambia, the suspected misuse of development cooperation funds was related to a social protection programme: all assistance had not reached the households. The case is under criminal investigation.

In Kyrgyzstan, support channelled to the development of the legal aid system of the country had ended on wrong accounts through international cybercrime. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is investigating the case. Of the cheated disbursement of EUR 400,000, EUR 40,000 have been recovered and a part of the sum is frozen on international bank accounts.

 

Claim for recovery if necessary

All those engaged in development cooperation activities are obligated to report any misuse of funds that they have detected. In addition, anyone can report their suspicion through the so-called misuse button.

In 2015–2018, the Foreign Ministry received 92 reports of cases of suspected misuse of funds. A report may prove unfounded or lead to a long chain of investigation. If financial matters are involved, decision-making may require an extraordinary audit.

In case it is substantiated that funds have been misused, the Ministry must claim their recovery. In 2015–2018, approximately one fourth of the reports led to a claim for recovery. The decisions involved sums ranging from EUR 30,000 to over a million euros.

In 2018, the value of the claims for recovery totalled EUR 27,455. Ongoing investigations include claims for recovery from earlier years, too. One of the biggest cases is related to problems in a forest sector programme in Mozambique, which have been investigated since 2012. In summer 2018, the Government of Mozambique paid approximately EUR 227,000, which was the first instalment of the EUR 424,000 to be recovered.

In future, all decisions on claims for recovery will be based on invoicing made by the Government Shared Services Centre for Finance and HR. The recipient of funds is responsible for the implementation of the entire development cooperation project and also for irregularities in the use of funds by their international partners.