JOHANNESBURG, August 28 – Eight City of Johannesburg employees are expected to appear in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Monday for allegedly pocketing R2.4 million in fraudulent refunds.
The employees – six women and two men – were arrested by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) last week Friday.
”The suspects allegedly created fraudulent letters demanding outstanding refunds from the City of Joburg. The letters were created using law firms’ letterheads and were made to look like they were sent to the municipality on behalf of affected residents,” said Hawks spokesman Colonel Robert Netshiunda.
”The employees would then process the refunds and deposit the money to their nominated bank account. The total value of the loot amounted to R2.4 million.”
Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba said the number of fraud suspects could rise at the investigation continued. He said in some instances, property owners allegedly colluded with City officials resulting in inflated claims.
”Once the refunds were processed, they would then be paid into individual bank accounts, leaving them to share the money amongst themselves. We will ensure that the property owners who colluded with the officials are held to account and face the law … residents who collude with officials and steal money from the City must face the consequences,” Mashaba said.
The investigation was triggered by an alert from Nedbank to the city’s finance department about irregular payments made to a client’s bank account in October last year.
Mashaba said the bank identified three separate irregular payments of R291,000, R281,000 and R86,000 into the account.
“Other fraudulent refunds were also identified by senior officials working at the refunds unit at the City’s revenue department. The City’s Group Forensic and Investigation Services (GFIS) was then alerted and launched an investigation.”