Anti-corruption work in NRC 2019

Published 24. Jun 2020
NRC encourages open discussions and acknowledges that corruption may occur even under the best of control systems. Our policy is to be transparent, and one element of that is that we by June 30 each year publish an overview of the closed, detected corruption cases from the previous year.

East Africa and Yemen (EAY)

Theft of decommissioned iron sheets 00005236

End January, the Area Manager received a report about disappearance of used iron sheets from a WASH Centre. The iron sheets had been kept there for recycling purposes and after having visited the centre, reviewed the logbook for the materials and done a physical verification it was confirmed that the iron sheets were missing. An investigation was launched and conducted by the Regional Office. The investigation involved a series of interviews with relevant persons.  It appears the iron sheets went missing late December 2018 when most staff were on holidays. Exact numbers of iron sheets could not be determined due to discrepancies in the recording. It was alleged that NRC staff/refugee workers were behind the theft, but the investigation did not manage to obtain sufficient evidence to prove it or find the responsible person(s) behind the theft.

External fraud

Mid- June, an individual purporting to represent NRC, IOM and UHNCR distributed fake shelter beneficiary registration token cards in an IDP camp. Community members informed NRC staff about the issue. NRC went to the IDP camp and established that this individual had distributed 26 fake token cards and collected a total of $800.00 from unsuspecting IDPs. NRC engaged with UNHCR, the governor and the community leaders and through swift intervention of the community elders and local authorities, the fraudster was arrested and the stolen money recovered and returned to the fraud victims. UNHCR in collaboration with IOM and NRC have been carrying out community sensitization to try to avoid similar fraud in the future.

Theft of sanitary pads - 00005195

Early June, during a stock check of Non-food and core relief items a few boxes of sanitary pads were missing from the warehouse. NRC launched an Internal investigation which confirmed that five boxes (500 packets) of sanity pads were stolen at a total value of TZS 5,000,000.00 or USD 2,222.00. Evidence found indicates that one staff and one refugee worker were behind the theft. Financial loss USD 2,222.


Middle east (MERO)

Split purchase /potential aid diversion 0004712

At the end of July 2019, an NRC staff member at an area office raised a purchase request (PR) for procuring 15 laptops with high specifications related to an education project. Following the procurement process these laptops were received early September. On the same day as the laptops were received, a second PR for  the same project was raised for procuring an additional 15 laptops with similar specifications. The Area Manager raised concerns as to why these purchases were spilt into two processes and made some initial assessments. Concurrently, it was decided to stop the procurement of the additional 15 laptops and to launch an internal investigation.

The investigation confirmed that the laptops were to be procured for the implementation of youth activities for an education project, but the investigation found no plans for youth activities to be part of the project. The target group for the education project were primary age children. The staff in charge attempted to use the establishment of a Vocational Training and Youth Centre in the area, run by the authorities as a way to support and later donate the high specification laptops to this centre.

Based on the investigation findings a case of misconduct was found to be proven against the staff member who faced disciplinary procedures. There was no financial loss per se though as the second PR was stopped before being actioned and the 15 laptops already procured were/will be distributed by the education project to refugee schools (either camp or non-camp) depending on the outcome of an ongoing  needs assessment.

Inflated travel expenses, conflict of interest and potential ICLA ghost beneficiaries (00001117)

In early August 2019, suspicion of a staff’s potential misuse of NRC’s ICLA assistance led to an investigation. A review of available documentation found that ICLA beneficiaries’ travel expenses had been over charged totalling USD 55. The investigation further found that the subject had been engaged in one legal case outside NRC without obtaining prior approval from NRC. The ghost beneficiary aspects of the investigation were inconclusive.

Case 00001121 Procurement Fraud

During August 2019, multiple allegations of ghost suppliers and over pricing were received from an internal whistle-blower in the Ramadi Office. The investigation confirmed the allegations which were  further complicated by staff signing for GRN’s when they were not present at the delivery. The main subject of the complaint was dismissed during the investigation for a separate issue and two other staff received warnings.

Theft of dead stock IRN ME 00033/18.

Towards the end of 2018 four different break ins/thefts from NRC warehouses were detected and reported. An investigation was launched shortly after and concludes that the missing items were stolen and the thefts were carried out during non-working hours without direct involvement of NRC staff. The dead stock was from 2013 and 2014. Total value of loss items is USD 9000

Salary fraud – local partner 00001033

Towards the end of May 2019, NRC was informed of potential salary fraud at a community based organisation (CBO) where NRC rented space for project activities and paid the salary of a small number of volunteers working for the CBO. NRC’s investigation revealed that the CBO during three months had deducted an average of 5 JDs from the salaries to three volunteers. The relationship with this CBO was discontinued.

Embezzlement (IRN ME 016/19) 00001051

During mid-April 2019, NRC was informed that a staff member was allegedly conspiring with a vendor by inflating the prices of goods bought by NRC. As a result, NRC made an analysis of the goods ordered from the vendor and the goods sent to NRC. This showed that NRC in total had ordered goods worth USD 33,267, but had been charged USD 39,841; leaving a difference of USD 6,574. It was proven that the case involved a mixture of price inflation and under delivery of goods. The vendor admitted the allegations we true and explained that the NRC staff in question had accrued a private debt with them and had asked their accountant to add the debt to NRC’s account by inflating the prices. The vendor submitted the paperwork which showed which goods had suffered from price inflation. The staff also admitted the allegations and the financial loss was recovered. Staff member was dismissed.

Conflict of interest 00004509

During mid-September 2019, the management was informed by an internal whistleblower that a support staff had an undeclared conflict of interest with a vehicle rental supplier. During the investigation the subject openly admitted that he is a friend of the manager of the supplier and didn’t consider this relationship a conflict of interest because he had excused himself from any procurements related to this supplier and had been open about this relationship and had verbally informed there  ex-manager about it. Enquiries with the ex-manager found that he could not recall this conversation. There was no financial loss and the staff member received a warning.

Bribery extortion by local authorities 00001080

In early June 2019, NRC management was informed that four beneficiaries had reported through NRC’s Post Distribution Channels that they had been requested to pay money in order to be registered for receiving cash assistance through NRC’s Cash Assistance project. As a response an investigation was conducted and each beneficiary was visited. The investigation findings show that there was no misconduct by NRC staff or the implementing partner’s cash distribution staff. However, the investigation confirmed that  local authority staff had asked these beneficiaries to pay registration fees equivalent to 500 SYP (less than 1 USD). The matter was reported to the relevant authorities.

Favouritism and alleged bribery extortion in recruitment 00001111

In mid-July 2019, a whistle-blower was alleging favouritism and bribery extortion by a staff in connection with recruitments. The subject was allegedly promising employment to applicants in exchange for their first months’ salary. The allegations regarding kickbacks for successful recruitment in the form of one month’s salary could not be confirmed through the investigation, however, it was confirmed that the subject did interfere with the recruitment process of guards and programme staff. The investigation concludes that this breach of NRC’s recruitment procedures provided an opportunity to influence selection of candidates and therefore created a scenario where it would be possible to demand such a payment. The staff members contract was terminated.

Product substitution 00001090

In July 2019, NRC received a complaint from a beneficiary about corn seeds distributed to beneficiaries, stating that the seeds distributed by NRC were of lower quality than the agreed one, leading to a lower probability for crops to succeed.

NRC launched an investigation which included a desk review, interviews with concerned and involved staff, as well as a field site verification. The investigation found that for a total of 1,500 seed packages procured, NRC had overpaid in total USD 33,000 when compared with the quality received. The investigation concluded that it was not a dishonest substitution of the seeds, but the supplier took advantage of NRC’s procurement practices in this case due to lack of clear specifications during the tender process and the analysis of the seeds received. The field site verification found the crops had grown correctly.


Asia, Europe and Latin America (AELA)

Attempted lap top theft - 00005213

End December 2018, through internal control an attempted theft of a new laptop by a staff member was detected and the laptop given back to the office.

Price inflation taxi vouchers - 00005218

Early September 2019, during regular control it was alerted that a set of taxi reimbursement vouchers submitted by a staff member could be fraudulent. The amounts seemed inflated and the investigation concludes that the taxi vouchers had been inflated with 10 USD in total. Financial loss USD 10.

Attempted fraud - 00005215

Early January 2019, through internal control it was alerted that a staff member possibly tried to commit fraud by duplicating a voucher of AFN 500 (USD 6,50). The investigation confirmed that the staff had falsified the receipt voucher and imprinted his own fingerprint onto it, in an attempt to be reimbursed the amount of 500 AFN. There was no financial loss, since the fraud was detected before the payment was done.

Procurement fraud 00004932

End September the Country Director received a whistle blow from a former employee, alleging that some NRC staff members had received kickbacks from a supplier in connection with procurement of school equipment at a value of around AFN 2 million. The whistle blower further claimed that the quotations collected were fake (ghost suppliers), except the one from the winner who was a friend of one of the subjects. An investigation was launched which confirmed that the procurement process had been rigged, but it was not possible to prove the kickback allegations. All except one of the implicated employees had already left NRC. The investigation found that the prices paid to the supplier in average had been inflated with 20%. Hence it estimated that there was a financial loss of USD 4,752.92. 

Supplier collusion 0004949

End 2019, NRC auditors identified some expense vouchers which had suspicious information contained in the supporting documents. Quotations obtained from two procurements in October 2017 and December 2018 came from suppliers where the phone numbers were the same.

These findings led to an internal investigation of potential procurement fraud. The investigation confirmed supplier collusion and weak internal controls around the quotation collection process and subsequent approval of suppliers and the payments. The purchases affected were gym equipment, plastic carpet and water coolers for classrooms, furniture for schools and IT equipment at a total value of USD 18,956.

While the intention was to conduct market surveys to confirm whether the prices on all these items were inflated, the investigation was only able to do so for one voucher, which verified inflated prices and a financial loss of USD 2,492. The sudden and rapid spread of Covid-19, in addition to the government-imposed lockdown in Kabul, prevented additional market surveys. Verified financial loss USD 2,492.

Bribery extortion

A Whistleblower allegation received in September 2019 that beneficiaries were being required to pay $3 to access services. Yhe investigation was not conclusive bu found enough evidence to warrant dismissal of the accused staff member. The accused staff member did not have any influence over who was included on the distribution list.


Central West Africa (CWA)

Conflict of interest 00005188

Mid December 2019, the Country Director received a whistle blow alleging that one of the cars from the rental company NRC was using belonged to a staff member. The allegation was investigated and the investigation confirmed that one of the vehicles belonged to the staff member and this had not been declared by the subject. The subject’s car had been used by NRC for 2,5 months. There was no direct link between the management of the service provider and the subject as the service provider used decentralised agents around the country to search and deliver vehicles upon NRC’s request. There was no financial loss. 

Ghost beneficiaries 00005224

Mid- July, a staff alerted the Area Manager that he had been asked by his supervisor to inflate the numbers of participants during information sessions with NRC’s beneficiaries. This was in order for the supervisor to pocket the related contribution for transportation costs. An investigation team was constituted and they interviewed all the staff involved in the project, assessed the participant lists and went to the field were the project activities took place. Based on the investigative work, the investigation confirmed that the allegations were correct. The subject had requested that part of the funds (taken in advance to pay for the transportation fees to the participants of the information session), were to be diverted for his own benefit. The assistants were asked to fake the participant lists.

Forged invoice by service partner 00005197

Mid-December 2018, internal control revealed forgery of some vehicle log sheets by a service provider. Vehicles were rented and charged for a period of 80 days, while the programme activities only lasted for 39 days. During the investigation the service provider confirmed that there was forgery of the NRC staff signatures by the third party engaged to deliver the services. NRC requested that the service provider pay back USD 1523 (NGN 533,000).