Reports of development fund fraud increased in 2021
Reports of possible fraud with Dutch development funds shot up in 2021, raising concerns about the 3.1 million euros that fell into the wrong hands. Around half of the reports are still being investigated, De Telegraaf reports.
Before 2021, there were no more than 74 reports of fraud with development funds in any given year. But last year, the number of reports rose sharply to 115. Fifty of them have been declared valid so far.
News of the fraud came from the annual report of Minister Liesje Schreinemacher (Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation). So far, proven cases include 2.2 million euros worth of fraud in a South Sudan aid project and 10,000 euros worth of items stolen in a robbery in the Central African Republic, among others. The lowest amount was a bill in Uganda, which was increased by 10 euros.
The higher number of reports could be because of a new registration method, Schreinemacher said. Employees' awareness of fraud has also been raised with trainings and workshops, which could contribute to the higher number as well.
Currently, 69 investigations into possible fraud are still open. These include investigations into reports from before 2021, stretching up to four years back. A spokesperson told De Telegraaf that coronavirus restrictions and other unsafe conditions could explain why many of these cases are still open.
Last year, the government spent 3.7 billion euros providing development aid to about 30 countries. Although the total percentage of fraud has not gone over 0.5 percent over the past five years, VVD MP Jan Klink still called the millions of euros lost "worrying."