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7-02-2012 - Gulfnews/By Samir Salama, (مصدر)

UAE Moves under way to recover more than Dh1b of siphoned public funds

Some 75 suspicious activities were reported to audit institution in 2010. Abu Dhabi: The State Audit Institution (SAI), the UAE's anti-corruption watchdog, said Sunday it had started recovery of more than a billion dirhams from illicit financial flows involving misappropriation of public funds, forgery, fraud and bribery cases that took place in 2010.

Dr Hareb Saeed Al Amimi, president of the institution, said 10 graft cases were reported to the public prosecutors over the last two years involving illicit financial flows of hundreds of millions of dirhams. " In cooperation with the Cabinet, the SAI has managed to recover some of the misappropriated funds and is working to recover the remaining money " Dr Hareb Saeed Al Amimi, State Audit Institution

The UAE, however, remains one of the most investment-friendly countries in the region, according to an anti-corruption watchdog survey published in December.

Positive The annual study from Transparency International, a Berlin-based monitoring organisation, awarded the UAE a score of 6.8 out of a possible 10 last year.

The country ranked 28th among 183 countries in the annual CPI (Corruption Perceptions Index), not far behind the US at 24th position. The survey aggregates perceptions of public-sector corruption among business people and experts.

Qatar was the best ranked GCC country in 22nd position with a score of 7.7 - an improvement from its 7.0-score in 2010.

The top five least corrupt countries are New Zealand, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Singapore, in that order, while the bottom five (most corrupt) are North Korea, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Somalia.

Hotline

Dr Al Amimi said that based on audit findings, the SAI started recovering the illegally paid funds and collecting revenues due to the state treasury.

"In cooperation with the Cabinet, the SAI has managed to recover some of the misappropriated funds and is working to recover the remaining money," Dr Al Amimi said.

The institution has set up a web-based hotline for members of the public to report any fraudulent activity within the government.

The move follows the government's commitment to raise standards of accountability and transparency at the federal level.

The ‘ReportFraud' service, hosted on SAI's website, www.saiuae.gov.ae, is also open to federal government employees and suppliers. Only matters related to federal organisations can be investigated by the SAI.

Enhanced credibility

Dr Al Amimi said this service allows concerned individuals to report suspicious activity while also ensuring that the process is handled discreetly and responsibly.

"The goal of ReportFraud is improved levels of governance and enhanced credibility for federal organisations," he said.

Some 75 suspicious activities were reported to the SAI in 2010. Fraud is defined as the use of deception to unjustly obtain a benefit.

Examples may include theft or misuse of assets, bribes and false accounting, improper claims for federal government benefits, and computer hacking and information theft.

Established in 1976, the SAI is dedicated to improving accountability, governance standards and performance in the UAE Federal Government.

Best practices

It aims to be recognised as one of the top audit institutions in the world and is working towards this goal by introducing international best practices and internationally recognised training for employees and Emirati graduates.

Dr Al Amimi said the UAE is the second least corrupt country in the Middle East and the 28th least corrupt in the world, according to international rankings.

"There is tremendous determination at the highest levels of government to further improve upon these standings, and ReportFraud is just one small example of how this commitment is being put into practice," he said.

He said more cooperation was needed from certain bodies audited by the SAI, which failed to offer auditors full access to their financial statements.

 

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