Sunday, January 17, 2021

Tanzania: Audit Shows Massive Fraud in Cooperative Societies

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AN INDEPENDENT audit into cooperative societies has exposed massive accounting frauds to the tune of over 124.05bn/- of members’ monies during the financial year 2018/19.

Co-operative Audit and Supervision Corporation (COASCO) report that was released here yesterday, accused cooperative unions of negligence, recklessness, misuse of public funds and embezzlement.

Agriculture Minister Japhet Hasunga who launched the report, detailed that the 124.05bn/- resulted from at least over 10.66bn/- being misplaced, misused, losses and embezzlement while at least 113.4bn/- was unaccounted from union’s financial books. He said already names of the leaders of the unions who are accused of occasioning the massive losses have been submitted before the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) for further investigation and subsequent prosecution.

“I can confirm at least 2.8bn/- was stolen by dishonest leaders, however, the sum of over 87.7bn/- is nowhere to be traced.

The report also indicates some 22.9bn/- was reported losses of the unions due to leader’s negligence,” he told reporters.

As of June 30, this year, the government had registered about 11,410 cooperative unions, of which 6,463 unions are active, while 2,844 are dormant and 2,103 others are no longer functional.

In its audit, Coasco audited at least 4,413 unions or about 102.6 per cent of the targeted unions by the government to survey and audit some 4,300 unions until June 30, 2019.

The Minister detailed that 6.87 per cent of the audited unions or 303 unions had a good financial sheet, and 53.89 per cent or 2,378 unions had a questionable financial sheet.

“About 19.92 per cent of other unions or 879 were Continued from Page 1 presented with a poor financial sheet and 853 other unions or 19.32 per cent of the audited societies got dirty sheets.”

The auditing involved 38 principal unions — Agricultural Marketing Co-operative Societies (AMCOS), 2,710 Savings and Credit Co-Operative Society (SACCOS) and 217 other societies.

“Among the audited unions, 15 were issued with a clean sheet, 1,347 unions got questionable certificate, 599 others received poor financial sheet and 749 had a worse financial report,” Hasunga told the press conference.

It was noted that local unions had no know-how on preparing financial books, record payments, weak financial reporting systems and limited professionalism.

The Minister was equally concerned that some employers were slowing the process by not paying on time their employees’ contribution to such credit facilities.

He urged employers to make timely payments to help credit unions from reporting unquestionable financial books. It was, therefore, unclear how PCCB will handle the matter but the ministry of agriculture insisted it had submitted a full list of suspects including the audit report.

PCCB Acting Director General Maj Gen John Mbungo offered a favour to all implicated in the report to simply return the funds before they are legally forced by the authorities.

He said the bureau is committed to taking further steps that include seizure of culprits’ properties such as housing units and livestock.

He said the bureau was moving to investigate the list of all those accused in lieu of the already submitted financial audit, adding: “all those who will be found guilty will face the wrath of the law.”

Dr Titus Kamani, Chairman of the Tanzania Cooperative Development Commission acknowledged readiness to work with the authorities to ensure justice is served.

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