The Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) is investigating what is being described as “huge UIF fraud”, according to a report in the Sunday Times.
The report stated that R5.7 million in UIF funds, which was intended for South African workers impacted by the COVID-19 lockdown, was paid to a single person.
This person immediately “went from having R12 in his bank account” to R5.7 million. The money was then quickly sent to friends and businesses over the course of five days.
The AFU and the UIF are now investigating the matter, and 28 bank accounts have been frozen in connection with the fraudulent transaction.
“We are investigating whether there was complicity on the part of those working at the UIF. There is a suspicion that there may have been criminal activity between UIF officials and the end recipient of the money,” said the NPA’s Sipho Ngwema.
This report follows the UIF and its COVID-19 payment processes making headlines for poor performance.
In April, the UIF launched a new online application portal for companies to submit claims, following thousands of companies not being able to claim funds.
The new portal went online after problems were reported with the previous email application process, which saw only 136 out of 39,000 company applications successfully processed.
15,755 of these applications were duplicates, and of the remaining applications, only 16,534 were in the correct CSV file format. Of these, only 136 contained the correct information, said the UIF at the time.
Fibre break and data breach
In late May, he UIF was then hit by a double blow.
First, it apologised for a delay in the capturing of COVID-19 applications for May, citing a “freak break in its network.”
It said the fault was due to a damaged fibre cable in Pretoria that links the UIF to the State Information Technology Agency’s data centre.
In the same week, the UIF said it made changes to its application website after a security researcher reported a data leak.
This leak allowed anyone to obtain the UIF reference numbers of employers who had been paid out, and look up how much they had been paid.
MyBroadband has also received complaints from companies who said they are still waiting for the UIF to pay them for applications made for their employees.
In one case, a construction company said that as of 20 June, it was still waiting for the UIF to process application for May salaries.
The UIF said earlier this month it has paid out R16.5 billion in COVID-19 relief funds and will ensure that outstanding payments are promptly processed.