Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Grant fraud

Grant fraud typically occurs when award recipients attempt to deceive the government about their spending of award money.

According to the Department of Justice, using federal grant dollars for unjust enrichment, personal gain, or other than their intended use is a form of theft, subject to criminal and civil prosecution under the laws of the United States.

Such misappropriation have been occuring in Malaysia but remain petty such as research grant abuse to share allowances with unrelated academic colleagues. 

There have been more attention to this fraud since. Few years ago there was a call for recipient of FINAS grant be revealed publicly. 

Its likely MACC uncovered serious findings on the current priority one investigation into Covid-19 pandemic spending and stimulus package for Deputy Chief Commissioner of MACC, Dato Seri Khusairi Yahya to issue a statement today

Widely reported by media is Penjana Kerjaya. There are murmurs on misappropriation of the so-called economic recovery initiative involving Penjana Kapital and earlier written, drone company, Aerodyne.

Khusairi wrote in The Vibe today:


Tackling grant misappropriation: focus on policy outcomes, not sheer numbers – MACC

Govt needs to ramp up monitoring of grant application processes, among other measures

Updated 3 hours ago · Published on 26 Jan 2023 3:00PM

This year, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission says it will focus on the issue of leakages and misappropriations of funds in the human resource sector, welfare, automotive, education and higher education, agriculture, plantation and other sectors. –SAIRIEN NAFIS/The Vibes file pic, January 26, 2023

THE value of integrity is fading among a number of companies that are responsible for assisting the government to channel funds or aid to the needy. 

Existing funds such as those under Penjana, Mitra, and Marii are to help people who were affected by the economic downturn during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as to assist them in furthering their skills and potential. 

Many were affected and burdened by job loss, unemployment, and business woes, resulting in some having to shut down due to the economy not growing as usual. 

The government had introduced grants, loans, moratorium, skills training, special financial assistance and the like to help the people to survive. 

But what has happened? There was a large group of individuals, companies and organisations that had taken the opportunity to profit from the rights and sufferings of the affected people.

These people blatantly took advantage of the situation by making false claims for personal wealth using the funds provided by the government. This is the attitude of economic opportunists on a small and medium scale.

The value of integrity has faded, and greed has become a culture. 

As a result, workers who were thrown out, graduates who were unemployed, traders who were forced to close their businesses, and those who should have received the benefits and assistance were all simply marginalised. 

This is one form of leakage that the government must rectify. There is no use for any fancy policies when the implementation is a failure. There are just too many loopholes that can create the room and opportunity for abuse to happen. 

Among issues that require scrutiny and action are: 

1. Weaknesses in reviewing the authenticity of information submitted by applicants (individuals, companies, and organisations), which have resulted in several companies owned by the same persons making multiple claims; 

2. The issue of emergency, such as during the pandemic, was used as an excuse to not perform due diligence on the applicant. If it is too rigid, it would be blamed on bureaucracy;

3. There were no clear mechanisms to monitor the programmes or activities meant to be carried out in order to ensure that they were actually implemented with the right number of participants. The agency only depended on the programme/activity report submitted by the applicant; and 

4. There were no clear rules and laws to take action against applicants, such as blacklisting them, instituting civil suits, and reclaiming unspent funds. The agencies to which these funds were channelled should be constantly monitored. 

Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is not about how many have received aid or funds or what percentage of aid or funds have been channelled. 

It is also not about how many programmes or activities have been conducted. All these KPIs are purely quantitative in nature. 

What should be measured is the impact or outcome of the activity or programme.

Only then, the intention to reduce unemployment, to reduce the number of problematic businesses, and the development of potential and skills of the working class and the downtrodden can be achieved. 

MACC sees the issue of misappropriation and leakages of funds or aid of this kind as a serious and important issue. 

To date, the collaboration between MACC and government agencies and ministries involving special operations throughout 2022 have resulted in a total of 133 individuals consisting of company owners and directors arrested. 

More than a hundred over companies have been investigated for misappropriation of funds estimated around RM194 million. 

As of today, a total of 34 company owners or directors have been charged in court for the offence of submitting false claims. 

In 2023, the MACC will focus on the issue of leakages and misappropriations of funds in the human resource sector, welfare, automotive, education and higher education, agriculture, plantation and other sectors. – The Vibes, January 26, 2023

Datuk Seri Ahmad Khusairi Yahaya is MACC’s deputy chief commissioner of operations

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