Transparency International Pakistan successfully conducted a workshop regarding “Fraud Awareness and Prevention” for USAID Implementing Partners on October 10, 2018 at Mövenpick Hotel, Karachi.

The prime objective of the workshop focused on raising awareness to enhance understanding on prevention of fraud and corruption amongst the implementing partners of USAID-funded projects. The workshop provided the participants an excellent opportunity to directly engage with and discuss their concerns with the representatives of USAID, OIG, NAB and TI-Pakistan. By enabling an active engagement of participants, the said workshop facilitated in resolving critical concerns and challenges being faced by the implementing organizations. It enabled participants to develop pivotal understanding in identifying entry points for fraud and corruption, thereby urging practice of preventive measures to help address the relevant issues. Moreover, it insisted on an active partaking with respect to awareness of Anti-Fraud Hotline so as to vigilantly report instances of corruption in USAID funded projects. Approximately 129 participants from 62 organizations attended the workshop.

After completion of the registration process, the workshop started at 9:30 am with recitation of a verse from the Holy Quran, followed by a Welcome Note by Mr. John Smith-Sreen – Deputy Mission Director, USAID Pakistan, who warmly welcomed and thanked all the attendees for their participation and highlighted the significance of Partnerships, a key strategic element  in USAID’s overall strategy for Pakistan, and how, them being implementation partners at local level contribute towards this objective. He also shared the news that the current 5-year bilateral Country Development Cooperation Strategy of USAID for Pakistan has been approved in August and talked about its priority areas.

The welcome note was followed with a briefing by Ms. Huma Ashar – Assistant Manager Project Transparency International Pakistan, who briefly outlined the workshop proceedings to address the audience regarding an interactive group breakout discussions session which was scheduled to be held later in the second half of this workshop.

The workshop proceeded with a comprehensive presentation by Mr. Saad Rashid, Executive Director TI-Pakistan, on the functional aspects of Anti-Fraud Hotline project. He highlighted the objectives, setup and operations of the project in terms of its advertisement and complaint response mechanism. During his presentation, Mr. Saad Rashid informed the participants that Anti-Fraud Hotline has received more than 102000 calls to date resulting in successful formulation of over 8,250 complaints, since the inception of the project.

The next speakers were Mr. Jawad Aziz and Mr. Muhammad Riaz, Foreign Service National Investigators, USAID Office of Inspector who are also certified fraud examiners and gave a presentation on three key aspects of i) Prevention, ii) Detection & iii) Reporting with respect to Fraud Awareness. Mr. Muhammad Riaz started off by explaining the role of OIG and its responsibilities. He explained different types of investigations undertaken by USAID OIG that are classified as criminal, civil and administrative respectively. Later, he was joined by Mr. Jawad who highlighted how USAID OIG has been collaborating with national entities such as NAB, PPRA and TI-Pakistan in order to ensure that USAID funds are properly utilized with minimal corruption and wastage. They further elucidated the process as to how OIG receives complaints while ensuring that the integrity of complainant’s information is kept confidential. A brief overview was given on differentiation between anonymous and confidential complaints and its respective investigation process. The session was highly interactive as participants proactively shared their opinions and asked various questions on how OIG handles different types of complaints and how they are investigated.

Mr. Kashif Ali, Project Manager TI-Pakistan, also conducted an interactive session with presentation on selective common scenarios that Anti-Fraud Hotline comes across during the implementation of different projects. He shared context-specific examples with the participants on guiding them how to incorporate anti-fraud measures in their institutional processes to establish an environment less conducive to corruption. He further elaborated on red flags that the implementing partners should look out for in order to identify and prevent corruption. He also encouraged the audience to vigilantly report any incidence of corruption to Anti-Fraud Hotline at the earliest.

Afterwards, Ms. Naila Khan – Auditor, USAID OIG joined in via Skype to provide a comprehensive outlook on how financial audits are conducted by USAID office. Ms. Naila explained the key differences between Financial Reviews and Financial Audit. Besides being highly informative, the session was an interactive one as well as she emphasized on the importance of compliance of Green Book for every organization. Ms. Khan maintained the attention of audience throughout her session as she had a bunch of questions to answer towards the end.

This was followed by an illustrative session by Mr. Jawad, Mr. Muhammad Riaz and Mr. Kashif on proceedings of Complaint Management in which different Case Studies were presented whereby allowing the participants to familiarize themselves with the type of information being collected from the complainant and as to what constitutes relevant information gaps that must be addressed.

Mr. Altaf Bhawani, Director General NAB Karachi, gave an overview about operational and investigation processes at NAB. He started off by explaining NAB’s organogram and mandate which is to detect, investigate, prosecute and dispose of corruption cases through a holistic approach of awareness, prevention and enforcement. He meticulously described NAB’s operational methodology and evolution of PPRA rules since its inception. He also shared an organizational structure of investigative team at NAB and their respective tasks. Mr. Altaf also explained the extent of pervasive culture of corruption at national level by sharing recent examples of mega corruption cases being pursued by NAB as mandated by law.

Moving on, Ms. Bailey Funderburk, Investigative Analyst USAID OIG, conducted the breakout group discussion session based on a selected Case Study, where the participants were engaged in an exercise on different scenarios to point out discrepancies in Request for Quotation. An interactive discussion followed as each group was given a total of 45 minutes for discussion. The session provided the participants an opportunity to ask questions related to scenarios’ exercise and learn from relevant subject specialist moderators. The discussion session was highly interactive as the groups were diligent in pointing out the right answers.

Towards the conclusion of the workshop, Mr. Michael Hryshchyshyn – Deputy Director, USAID Pakistan Karachi Office, gave his closing remarks in which he extended his felicitations to everyone for their proactive participation and engagement. He thanked the team of TI Pakistan for providing a participative platform and urged the participants to avail maximum benefit of Anti-Fraud Hotline to report any kind of fraud and corruption they might come across. He also expressed his hope that the audience will apply the knowledge gained at the workshop to develop and institutionalize anti–corruption strategies to prevent fraud in their respective projects.