Pensioner arrested over alleged Covid-19 unemployment relief fraud
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Pretoria - Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) has arrested a pensioner for alleged fraud and theft linked to the government's Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Temporary Employer/Employee relief scheme for workers whose income has been affected by a national lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a statement late on Sunday, the Hawks said the 62-year-old's arrest in Hammanskraal, Pretoria brought to 14 the number of people picked up for fraud related to the scheme. Some of the suspects were out on bail, it added.
The pensioner faces charges of fraud, alternatively theft and money laundering, after he allegedly failed to disclose that he had received R4.7 million meant to remunerate the employees of a company he had worked for. The man allegedly used the same reference number he had used at his previous employer to apply for a UIF pay out.
After the company made enquiries to trace the money and a case was opened, nearly R4.6 million was recovered from the man's bank account. He had already spent almost R100 000.
The pensioner is due to appear in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Monday, as will Thokozane Mchunu, Nqobile Mzimela and Sboniso Khanyile, who were arrested last week in Durban for alleged fraud and money laundering involving R692 000 linked to the same UIF Covid-19 fund.
In this case, National Adhesive applied for relief for its employees, but the company’s banking details were fraudulently changed and the money was redirected to a bank account belonging to Mchunu, who allegedly transferred the money to Mzimela and Khanyile.
Hawks head Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya hailed the arrests as another breakthrough and praised the teams involved for speedily arresting and bringing the suspects to court.
He said the arrests would not have been possible without the collective effort and assistance from the National Prosecuting Authority, the Asset Forfeiture Unit, the Financial Intelligence Centre, the Priority Crime Specialised Investigation unit and the intelligence community.
African News Agency/ANA