Case 07/2011 – Embezzlement from Medical Procurement in the Ministry of Health

This case surfaced when the Commission was undertaking a number of investigations into alleged corruption in the procurement administration by the Drugs Vaccines and Equipment Division (DVED) under the Ministry of Health (MoH) between 2005 to 2009. This particular investigation commenced from April 2011 and completed in October 2011.

The investigation determined that the accused, a Senior Accountant managing the book keeping for hospital procurement funds, had routinely siphoned off huge amount of health procurement funds through fraudulent practices. His modus operandi entailed first debiting government LC accounts using consolidated ‘Yourself’ cheque and then appropriating the proceeds to respective suppliers through bank instruments such as Demand Drafts and Cash Warrants. Such appropriations took place in the bank and remained oblivious to his superiors enabling him to falsify supplier payments in the cash book and then diverting the amount to his personal bank account using cash warrants. Between late 2004 until the beginning of 2009, he had embezzled at least Nu.8.302 million from as many as 52 government cheques booked as expenditure for medical procurement. Of this, he diverted Nu.4.979 million to finance the operation of automobile batteries retail outlet, the license of which was registered in the name of his friends. He covertly diverted these payments to finance import of batteries from one supplier in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. About Nu.994,080 was diverted to Royal Audit Authority (RAA) to make off-record settlement of audit recoveries. He illicitly profited Nu. 1,454,633 for himself and his family members. In October 2007, he also fraudulently diverted one refund cheque amounting Nu. 394,941 to the license owner.

The investigation also found that one former Senior Procurement Officer of the DVED had colluded with the accused in processing false payments.  In four separate instances between January 2005 to March 2006, he misappropriated Nu. 409,954 and deposited into the former’s personal account.  

The investigation also ascertained that the accused had misused suppliers’ performance security money held in Refundable Deposit Account either for making settlement of audit recoveries or to clear outstanding invoices to certain suppliers in Kolkata whose prior claims had already been embezzled by him for his private use. In a span of six months between July 2007 to January 2008, he diverted Nu. 3.341 million from supplier’s security deposits which the Ministry was liable to refund at some point of time. Of this, he misappropriated Nu. 548,861.62 for himself, his wife and one of his account colleagues. In compensating for payment arrears which he had misused earlier, he remitted Nu. 2.792 million to eight suppliers in India from the security fund. He redirected the proceeds either in whole or part thereof in the process of effecting deposits into the government Refundable Deposit Account as well as while executing the refund. Payment to two Indian suppliers followed after more than two years of persistent complaints regarding non-payment of bills for a prolonged period. 

The Commission forwarded the matter to the Office of the Attorney General on 18 October 2011.

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