Workshop: Fraud Awareness and Prevention Workshop for USAID Implementing Partners & sub-Grantees

Date: February 12, 2019

Venue: Serena Hotel, Islamabad

Guest Speakers: Mr. David Clark – Pakistan Director, USAID Office of Inspector General (OIG); Mr. Saad Rashid – Executive Director TI-Pakistan; Mr. Jawad Aziz and Mr. Muhammad Riaz – Foreign Service National Investigators, USAID OIG; Mr. Mudassar Hasan – Additional Director, NAB; Mr. Fawad Aslam – Auditor, USAID OIG; Mr. Kashif Ali – Director, TI-Pakistan.

Transparency International Pakistan in collaboration with USAID/OIG successfully conducted a workshop on “Fraud Awareness and Prevention” for USAID Implementing Partners and sub-Grantees on February 12th, 2019 at Serena Hotel, Islamabad.

The prime objective of the workshop was to raise awareness and understanding on fraud and corruption among the implementing partners and sub-Grantees 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 these organizations. It also 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 79 participants from 34 organizations attended the workshop. The event was broadcasted live on Anti-Fraud Hotline Social Media page.

After completing the registration process, the workshop commenced at 9:00 am with recitation of a verse from the Holy Quran. It was followed by a Welcome Note by Mr. David Clark, Pakistan Director, USAID OIG, who warmly welcomed all the participants and gave opening remarks on how this workshop is going to be a key factor in better understanding and detection of corruption and fraudulent activities in USAID projects.

After a brief welcome note by Mr. David Clark, Ms. Marium Waheed Khan, Assistant Project Coordinator, Anti-Fraud Hotline took a few moments to briefly address the audience regarding the group breakout discussions session which were to be held in the second half of the workshop.

Moving on, Mr. Saad Rashid, Executive Director TI-Pakistan, gave a detailed presentation on the Anti-Fraud Hotline project. He highlighted the objectives, setup and operation of the project, how the project is advertised and how the complaints are handled. During his presentation, Mr. Saad Rashid informed the participants that Anti-Fraud Hotline has received more than 106,500 calls to date resulting in successful formulation of over 8,375 complaints, since the inception of the project.

The next speaker Mr. Muhammad Riaz, Foreign Service National Investigator USAID OIG, who is also a certified fraud examiner, gave a presentation on ‘OIG – Investigations Fraud Awareness Briefing’. Mr. Muhammad Riaz started off by explaining the role of OIG and its responsibilities. Then, he explained different types of investigations that OIG carries out which are categorized as criminal, civil and administrative. He also shed light on a key subject of Conflict of Interest (COI) and its different types and incorporated real case scenarios to help audience understand how to avoid COI in implementation of their respective projects. He also touched upon the topic of Trafficking in Person which has assumed critical importance for USAID and elaborated as to how it involves child labor and sex workers caught up in the cycle of exploitation and shared multiple ways in which this issue can be effectively tackled.

Later on, Mr. Jawad Aziz proceeded with the session and highlighted the importance of efforts by USAID OIG undertaken in collaboration with national entities such as NAB, PPRA and TI-Pakistan in order to ensure that USAID funds are properly utilized and to minimize corruption and wastage. He further explained the process as to how OIG receives complaints and how the integrity of complainant’s information is kept confidential. Key areas with high instances of fraud such as Procurement and Fake Invoicing were also discussed at length during the presentation. The session remained very interactive where participants engaged and 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, conducted an interactive session and shared some common scenarios that Anti-Fraud Hotline comes across in the implementation of the 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 and sub grantees 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.

In the second half of the session, Mr. Fawad Aslam, Auditor, USAID OIG provided a comprehensive outlook of Internal Controls which comprises of i) Control Environment, ii) Risks Assessment, iii) Control Activities, iv) Information & Communications and v) Monitoring. Mr. Fawad then explained the key differences between Financial Reviews and Financial Audit. Besides being highly informative, the session was an interactive one as well as he emphasized the importance of compliance of Green Book for every organization. Mr. Fawad effectively maintained the attention of audience by engaging them in a case exercise towards the conclusion of his session.

Moving on, Mr. Mudassar Hasan, Additional Director NAB Head Quarters, started off by giving an overall perspective of corruption and how it has evolved over time. He also highlighted the role of NAB as Pakistan apex anti-corruption agency and the investigative mechanisms it has in place to deal with types of corruption cases. He argued that people should remain vigilant and raise their voice against corruption and corrupt practices as corruption cannot be effectively curbed without an active involvement of citizenry. This sparked the discussion on the actions that NAB has taken against those involved in corruption, people released under plea bargain and voluntary return. Mr. Mudassar also briefly discussed the role of NAB and its collaboration with USAID in order to curb corruption in the utilization of USAID grants. He shared his gratitude towards TI Pakistan for doing its part in fighting against corruption and for playing a crucial role in highlighting many cases that helped NAB in resolving them.

Before the breakout discussion groups, Ms. Huma Ashar, Assistant Manager Project, Anti-Fraud Hotline gave a detailed presentation on Complaints Registration. She explained the different means of communications such as fax, email, website, SMS, WhatsApp etc which can be availed to register any complaint. The presentation was primarily designed to help the audience understand the nuances of complaint registration process through use of actual complaints anonymized for this presentation.

Next, Mr. Shamail Adnan Khan, Analyst Anti-Fraud Hotline, 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 30 minutes for discussion. The session was very informative as it provided the participants an opportunity to ask questions related to scenarios’ exercise and learn from relevant subject specialist moderators. The discussion session was also highly interactive as the groups were diligent in pointing out the right answers.

A Q&A session was held at the end of the workshop. Five representatives from USAID OIG, TI-Pakistan and NAB answered questions from the participants.

Towards the conclusion of the workshop, Mr. Saad Rashid, Executive Director TI-Pakistan gave his closing remarks in which he extended his felicitations to everyone for their proactive participation and engagement. He thanked the participants and urged them 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.