Ministry brings in independent forensic auditors to provider

Media release

06 June 2014
Michael Hundleby, Acting National Director, National Health Board in the Ministry of Health.

The Ministry of Health has brought in PricewaterhouseCoopers to perform a forensic audit of independent disability support provider Te Roopu Taurima O Manukau (Te Roopu). This audit will begin on Monday 9 June.

During preparation for this audit, evidence was found of an anonymous call on Tuesday 3 December 2013 to the Fraud Hotline alleging a staff member at Te Roopu was involved in inappropriate financial dealings. The complaint details were recorded however that information was never passed on to the auditors assigned to the Te Roopu financial audit.

The Ministry regrets this failure and steps are currently under way to ensure this does not happen again. One of these steps will be to contract the Fraud Hotline calls out to experienced external hotline provider Crimestoppers, which is used by a number of government enforcement/regulatory agencies.

The process to transition over to Crimestoppers is well advanced and in the meantime new policies have been implemented to ensure there is no repetition of this error.

Background

The Audit & Compliance team of the Ministry of Health were asked by the Ministry’s National Services Purchasing unit to undertake both a Financial Audit and a Governance review of Te Roopu Taurima O Manukau Trust (Te Roopu).

The focus of the financial audit was to provide the Ministry an assurance that Te Roopu was solvent, was able to cover its expenses and able to meet its commitments for service as detailed in the funding agreement. The financial audit concluded that the organisation was solvent, but faced medium-long term factors that, if not addressed, would see the organisation become insolvent.  Additionally, the audit found that the organisation had appropriate processes for the recording and reporting of accounting information.

The Governance review identified there was a lack of financial literacy and expertise at Board level, it recommended that the Board takes steps to improve its financial performance.

During this time it was believed that the Ministry had not received a direct complaint alleging inappropriate financial dealings at Te Roopu.  On Tuesday 3 June, this was found to be incorrect.

On 3 December 2013, an anonymous call to the Fraud Hotline was made which alleged a staff member at Te Roopu was receiving financial payments outside of the scope of their remuneration package.

The complaint details were correctly recorded however that information was never forwarded to the auditors assigned to the Te Roopu financial audit. 

This complaint was not identified until Tuesday 3 June when the Audit & Compliance unit discovered a log of this phone call while preparing information to assist the forensic auditors.

The process and persons responsible for this error within the A&C unit have been identified and steps put in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

The Ministry regrets this process failure and steps are already under way to ensure this does not happen again.

One of these steps will be to contract the Fraud Hotline calls out to an experienced external hotline provider ‘Crimestoppers’, which is used by a number of government enforcement/regulatory agencies. The process to transition over to Crimestoppers is well advanced; in the meantime a new operational policy has been implemented to ensure there is no repetition of this error.

The forensic audit will begin on Monday 9 June and will be conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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