The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Commissioner, Teboho Maruping, has issued a stern warning to those who attempt to defraud the UIF to be aware that they will be arrested and punished for their heinous actions.
According to SANews the recent conviction of a couple who cheated the UIF’s COVID-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (COVID-19 TERS) out of more than R10 million.
The Directors of Denmeng Trading, Moroko Moremi, 37, and his wife Treasure Moremi, 34, were recently found guilty of fraud by the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court after applying for COVID-19 TERS for 553 workers when they only employed 22.
“Joint efforts by the UIF’s investigators, law enforcement agencies at the Fusion Centre such as the HAWKS, National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), and the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) led to the couple’s successful arrest and conviction,” said in a statement.
The couple is scheduled to be sentenced on 17 May 2022.
The department said that this latest conviction is against the backdrop of a recent court appearance of two suspects at the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court after they received R2,7 million from the UIF, but allegedly failed to use the money in line with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed with the UIF.
Amongst others, the MOU requires that the COVID-19 TERS monies must be paid over to the qualifying workers applied for.
Commissioner Maruping has conveyed his gratitude to law enforcement agencies for the latest conviction and arrests.
He said that he hopes the latest conviction and arrests send a strong message to other would-be fraudsters that the long arm of the law will always catch up with them.
In 2020, the Fund embarked on the “follow the money” project where close to R900 million was recovered.
The department said that the project is expected to resume in April 2022 upon the appointment of audit firms and it is anticipated that additional recoveries will be made, and more arrests will take place as fraudulent claims are uncovered.
Meanwhile, the Department has also noted and welcomed the sentence handed down by a Pretoria Magistrate Court on Tuesday to three undocumented immigrants for impersonating Labour Inspectors.
Okichukwu Michael Uzor (45), Loveness Mandivava (32), and Nyemudzai Muzvidza (33) were sentenced to twelve months in prison with an option of R10 000 fine.
The Department has applauded and welcomed the decision, stating that it sends a clear message to those posing as labour inspectors and performing any labour inspection functions to flee.
The Department said that it was concerned about the growing number of pretentious inspectors in the province but believes it is only a matter of time before the department pounces on them.
“Those who have helped themselves to funds earmarked for workers during the lockdown should always remember that the law is creeping towards them and they will not have any peace. We will not tolerate the siphoning of workers’ benefits by unscrupulous individuals. All fraudsters are on notice and we hope more suspects are arrested and sent straight to jail.
“Working together with law enforcement agencies, we will follow every lead pointing towards suspected fraud. We also thank the public for being vigilant about the abuse of COVID-19 TERS funds by blowing the whistle to us,” Maruping said.
To date, there have been four convictions of individuals who have defrauded the UIF of COVID-19 TERS funds, and more are expected as 15 cases have been referred to the SIU for further investigation.