Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Ceisteanna (133)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

133. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of persons employed in the fraud unit in Irish Aid in each of the years 2012 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8215/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade operates in a complex and diverse environment, given both the range of its work and the variety of locations where it operates. The Department recognises that the risk of fraud is an ever-present threat to its assets, resources and reputation. The Department has a zero tolerance towards fraud, and managing risk, including the risk of potential fraud, is an integral part of how the Department works, including in the Irish Aid programme. Accordingly, all officers in the Department share the responsibility for risk management and prevention of fraud.

The Department has in place policies and procedures for the prevention, detection and dealing with instances of fraud or suspected fraud. These include the Financial Policy and Procedures, the Department’s Risk Management Policy, the Counter-Fraud Policy, and the Standard Approach to Grant Management, all of which are regularly reviewed and updated. All Department personnel are responsible for ensuring strong, robust and effective fraud prevention and control. In particular, senior managers in the Department are responsible for implementing Departmental policies and for the operation and maintenance of the Department’s internal control systems, which promote the prevention, detection and investigation of fraud, as well as management of the risk of fraud. This includes ensuring the rigorous implementation of the appraisal and approval procedures in place with regard to funding provided to organisations or programmes under the Irish Aid programme.

In line with the Department’s Counter Fraud Policy, all instances of suspected or alleged fraud in partner organisations, including those funded by Irish Aid, are required to be reported to the Department. Cases are examined by the Department’s Evaluation and Audit Unit and appropriate follow up actions are taken, in consultation with the relevant line Division, to ascertain the amount of any loss, identify perpetrators, and identify any control weaknesses which may need to be strengthened. It is the Department’s policy to actively seek recovery of any Irish public funds deemed to have been misappropriated.

Over the period from 2012 to date, the staff complement of the Evaluation and Audit Unit has been in range of 18 to 20 staff, including eight based in Embassies managing significant development programmes.