Embezzled Flood Relief Donations Under PwC’s Scan

Michelle Remo, “Big 4″ observer
June 07, 2011 /

Hundreds of thousands of pounds in flood relief donations handed by Britons to Oxfam UK have been embezzled, now under PricewaterhouseCoopers’s scanner as the accounting firm has been hired by the British charity.

“Oxfam’s regular monitoring processes have found financial irregularities in an Oxfam programme for flood relief in Sindh, Pakistan,” Oxfam said in a press release.

The imminent investigation has been announced by Oxfam after “financial irregularities” have been spotted when the relief donations were believed to have been embezzled last year during the height of the Pakistan flood disaster.

Oxfam was able to raise more than £39 million from relief donations for the victims of a catastrophe described by the United Nations as the worst calamity it had ever seen, having killed more than 1,750 while affecting more than 18 million.

“Our current estimate of the funds with potential issues are between £0 and £500,000,” Kathleen McGarva, International Finance Director of Oxfam GB, said in an email to inAudit.

The relief donations were meant for hundreds of thousands of victims in Sindh. According to Oxfam, almost 1.9 million people have benefited from the relief donations.

Allegations of corruption and the sluggish response from Pakistan government officials were blamed for the aggravated situation amid the crisis.

PricewaterhouseCoopers’s report is expected to be made public in three to four weeks time.

In a statement, Oxfam said: “While the investigation is ongoing, it would be unfair to name any partners who may have been involved. However, Oxfam will use every means to recover any money found to be missing.”

Charities were then complaining about the less generous handing out of relief donations than that given to Haiti victims and were blaming corrupt government officials for the shaved budget for relief operations.

Noreen Khalid, an Oxfam program director in Pakistan, said in a statement: “Oxfam is committed to upholding the strictest and most rigorous financial controls and ensuring its program is being delivered in a transparent and accountable manner.

“Oxfam’s own internal monitoring and auditing system identified the financial irregularity currently being investigated.

“Oxfam’s priority is to ensure that donors’ money is spent effectively and that it provides the support expected and committed to poor people in Pakistan.

“We are conducting this investigation to allow us to continue to be accountable to the communities that we work with, and ensure improved service delivery in the future.

“Oxfam takes transparency and accountability extremely seriously,” Oxfam added.

 

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