By Sola Ogundipe, Chioma Obinna & Gabriel Olawale
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, GFATM, an international financing institution that invests the world’s money to save lives, has suspended disbursement of funds for malaria, HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis, following discovery of large scale fraud by recipient organisations in Nigeria.
The discovery of the fraud, involving millions of dollars, was uncovered after an audit of grants to Nigeria by the Office of the Inspector General, OIG, an arm of the Fund.
A message on Nigeria audit reports by the Executive Director, Global Fund, Mark Dybul, said findings showed that “the audit report on Nigeria covered US$889 million of Global Fund grants, and found systemic weakness in the controls in various government entities.
“The investigation report found fraud and collusion in the amount of US$3.8 million.”
According to Dybul, the audit reviewed multiple grants in the period 2013-2015 and identified significant problems with internal controls at government entities, in particular relating to procurement conducted by the National Agency for Control of AIDS, NACA, and the National Malaria Elimination Program, NMEP.
The audit identified US$20 million as expenditure for which NACA was unable to provide supporting documentation during the audit.
He said: “In addition, the audit identified a lack of documentary evidence related to human resources and payment approval processes, with US$7.65 million identified as unsupported expenditures.
“Following work performed by a third party fiscal agent, US$5.1 million has now been verified, based on a review of supporting documentation that was not available during the audit; US$1.0 million requires further clarification, and US$1.5 million of expenditure that has not yet been reviewed due to timing.
“We expect to be able to provide a final, comprehensive view of these expenditures by 10 May.”
Dybul explained that the investigation examined the work of a sub-recipient, Nigeria’s Department of Health Planning, Research & Statistics, DPRS, where it found evidence of systematic embezzlement, and identified US$3.8 million of irregular spending.