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Forensic Accountants Find ‘Systemic Fraud’ – 25 February 2013

Member: Nifa

Three more people have been arrested over alleged fraud at welfare-to-work company A4e, highlighting the importance of forensic auditors, who first picked up on anomalies at the company in 2009 during a routine internal audit.  The audit unearthed evidence of staff claiming for putting people into non-existent jobs, jobs that did not qualify for payment and generally fabricating paperwork.

Subsequently, after laborious and painstaking financial investigations, officers made numerous arrests at the company’s office in Slough, Berkshire and Emma Harrison, Chairwoman of the company stepped down last year over the allegations.  In February 2012 Thames Valley Police’s Economic Crime Unit was revealed to be investigating the alleged theft by A4e staff of ‘tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of vouchers meant to help the unemployed back to work

Then in March 2012 the Department for Work and Pensions announced that following fraud allegations regarding an A4e contract, it had begun an independent audit of all its commercial relationships with A4e and in the May, Employment Minister Chris Grayling announced that contracts with A4e had been terminated, after deciding that continuing would pose ‘too great a risk’.

Later that month a leaked internal audit report exposed ‘potential fraud’ at A4e. The report compiled by the audit and risk department examined a sample of 224 of the company’s job placements and found that “potential fraudulent/irregular activity is not confined to one particular geographical area of the division, and shows a potential systematic failure to mitigate the risk towards this behaviour at both an office and regional level”.   The auditors also discovered that A4e had sent an unemployed job-seeker to work in a lap-dance club, while a number of former employees have now come out with additional allegations.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 25th February 2013

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