UIF welcomes arrest of accused in COVID-19 TERS scheme fraud

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The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has welcomed the arrest of 16 suspects accused of swindling R2.2 million from the COVID-19 TERS scheme.

The suspects were apprehended in Gauteng and the North West province.

The UIF’s Commissioner Teboho Maruping says, “It’s a combination of both the employers and employees. We are expecting more arrests. All of them will be facing charges of fraud. We are going to be freezing all their accounts.”

If there are any accounts in their names, then we are going to be freezing their accounts and attaching their assets. If we are unable to recover from those funds, then they will go to prison and they will have to make arrangements to pay us back for the money.”

Process of applying for UIF’s Temporary Financial Relief Scheme: Adv. Mzi Yawa

In June this year, the UIF said R3.4-billion was voluntarily returned by employers who benefited from the COVID-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (TERS).

The UIF said an audit was conducted on over R14-billion which was disbursed through TERS.

Phase one of its Follow-the-Money project revealed that several companies submitted fraudulent applications.

The UIF’s Communications Director Makhosonke Buthelezi said more employers are expected to return surplus funds.

“We discovered that there were claims that were made in some cases where employers had inflated the salaries that they said their employees were earning for the three months prior to COVID-19. Some had claimed for employees that they had already retrenched before COVID-19. For some it was a pure matter of errors,” said Buthelezi.