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Bail decision pending in R24m MTN SA fraud case

Bail decision pending in R24m MTN SA fraud case

South Africa's Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, an elite unit of the country's police force popularly known as the Hawks, says investigations into alleged fraud by MTN's accountant totalling R24 million are still underway as the court considers the accused's bail application.

The Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court is set to hand down its decision on bail next week after the case was postponed for the third time yesterday.

Ndivhuwo Mulamu, a captain at the South African Police Service (SAPS) says investigations are looking into whether or not the 42-year-old Ruth Moshabane may have had accomplices.

"The case is postponed to the fourth of May. We are opposing bail and investigations are continuing to establish whether other people may have been involved."

Moshabane faces charges of fraud and theft after MTN opened a case against her having received an alert of suspicious transactions from the company's bank to an account the police say belongs to the accused.

These transactions are said to have taken place between 16 July 2015 and 4 April 2017. Moshabane was arrested at the MTN offices in Johannesburg on 11 April.

A statement from MTN following the arrests said that the telco cannot disclose further details about the matter as that may jeopardise the ongoing investigation.

"MTN, like many corporates, contends with incidents of fraud and maladministration from unscrupulous employees, service providers and fraudsters, and it is working diligently with its business partners and law-enforcement authorities to curb such incidents," read the statement.

Steven Ambrose, CEO of Strategy Worx Consulting, believes that the alleged fraud by Moshabane does not necessarily represent a complete failure of controls within MTN as an organisation or by its auditors.

"There is no question that internal controls failed and processes that must be in place to stop this type of fraud were circumvented. The context and value of this type of fraud must be taken into account as the amounts of cash flowing in an organisation the size of MTN would make R24 million a fairly immaterial amount from an audit perspective. As auditors are not policemen and have to work on both a system and transaction basis in a manner that employees can see and understand, it is possible these amounts were not material enough to warrant special attention and were concealed from the internal controls and external auditors. None of this makes the fraud acceptable, but in a company as big and as complex as MTN, these types of fraud will occur from time to time."

"In the final analysis, the fact that it was finally caught shows that at some point the controls and systems did work," he continues.

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