bank foils attempt to swindle state

AN ATTEMPT to defraud the Mpumalanga government of about R2million failed after First National Bank questioned the authenticity of a transaction.

Now the provincial government has laid criminal charges with the police after an amount of R190922,28 was paid into a wrong bank account.

The money, which the provincial public works department was supposed to pay Telkom for services rendered, has since been reversed by FNB.

According to the integrity management report, two junior clerks were made to modify a Telkom bank account, oblivious to the fact that they were being used. The clerks, whose names are known to Sowetan, wrote in their affidavits that they found documents with a bank stamp in their desk ordering them to change banking details, and they did.

They say a few days later their senior, Vusi Bhembe, enquired about changes in the banking details after an amount of R1,9 million for Telkom was captured.

"Bhembe enquired after FNB had phoned the department asking if the bank should effect this amount to account number 62134686362," the clerks said.

"We told Bhembe that we were the ones who changed the banking details, and he wanted to know at whose order. But when we searched for the supporting document to prove that we were only following instructions, we could not find it where we had left it," the affidavit reads.

FNB reversed the transaction. Investigators have so far found that the department, which suffered a total loss of R661646,47 as a result of the changing of these banking details, does not have a camera system in place to monitor work stations used to change banking details and capture and authorise payments.

The investigation unit has since recommended that all computers used for changing banking details and making payments be monitored by CCTV monitors.

Investigations continue.