An internal investigation at the Red Cross revealed that nearly $6 million in funds that were allocated to fight the Ebola crisis were stolen and wasted by corrupt employees at the organization and other culprits, NBC News reported.
According to the news outlet, a probe was launched by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies surrounding how the organization managed $124 million in funds that were donated between 2014 and 2016. The money was supposed to go towards combating the disease that was rapidly spreading throughout African countries that included Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
During the investigation, it was discovered that at least 2.13 million Swiss francs went missing during a transaction between the Red Cross and a Sierra Leone-based bank due to an inaccurate exchange rate. Similar things occurred in Liberia and Guinea where large amounts of money went missing due to illegal billing practices and fraudulent increased prices for relief items and staff and volunteer payroll. According to the news outlet, there were 1.17 million Swiss francs lost in Guinea and 2.7 million Swiss francs lost in Liberia.
Red Cross representatives were disheartened by the findings of the investigation and plans to take the necessary steps towards battling fraud within the organization. The organization will now have auditors travel with relief staff in the case of an epidemic or natural disaster and stricter spending limits will be implemented.
“We are pursuing every possible avenue to reclaim all funds that have been misappropriated, diverted, or otherwise illegally taken. This includes working with authorities in affected countries and elsewhere as appropriate,” IFRC undersecretary general for partnerships Dr. Jemilah Mahmood told NBC News. She also added that the individuals that were involved will be held accountable and she hopes that these incidents don’t overshadow the organization’s efforts to provide relief. She stated that the organization played a “critical and widely recognized role in containing and ending the outbreak.”
The Ebola virus claimed the lives of over 11,000 individuals in the three countries that were impacted by fraud.
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