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Manipulation, deception flagged in AIZ storm

TINASHE MAKICHI


Audit manipulation and deception have been flagged in the forensic
audit report at Amnesty International Zimbabwe (AIZ) which implicated its top directors eventually leading to their departure over fraud and corruption allegations.

Business Times is informed that the carrying out of the forensic audit
was subject to contestation between the Amnesty International (AI) office in London and AIZ on the course of action to be taken.

Information at hand cites that the audit report ended up being commissioned without the signatures of the AIZ board.


The audit was carried out by Deloitte Zimbabwe. Business Times is informed that a letter of complaint was written to the audit firm by a finance executive at AIZ citing lack of professionalism on the part of the audit team.


Among those implicated in the forensic report are former country director Cousin Zilala (resigned), board chairperson Takesure Musiyiwa and
finance officer Sibongile Zimbeva.


AIZ last year pressed criminal charges against former employees and the case was reported at the Zimbabwe Republic Police Commercial Crimes Division.

According to a letter addressed to Phillip Muketiwa of AIZ on March 25, 2019, ZRP noted that the audit report supplied to them did not disclose a criminal case against those allegedly implicated.


“Reference your report which you reported to the Police on February 28,
2019, it be advised that the matter filed “False on Enquiry” due to the fact that the audit report that was supplied did not disclose a criminal offence. Most of the allegations can be best solved administratively,” ZRP said.


A well-placed source told Business Times that the forensic audit was initiated in a clandestine manner aimed at pushing out Zilala who had fallen out with the international office.


Email communication in our possession between Amnesty International
legal representative Tinoziva Bere and AI International Finance Manager
Robert Pepper allege the creation of fake evidence against Zilala.


“We will start with objection to the proceedings and then move to the merits if the objections. In the meantime I would really appreciate it if the auditors did the formal question as previously recommended by ourselves so that we have proof that there is a process going on,” reads part of the email by Bere.


“I also need input into their investigation in terms of legal opinion on
policies and of some findings. We need theft defined as such rather than for
it to be treated as remuneration and creating Zimbabwe Revenue Authority liability where none was legally incurred.”


Business Times is informed that the initiation of the forensic audit was
contested from the beginning which culminated in the AIZ board rejecting
the audit findings when they were presented by Deloitte Zimbabwe.


According to a letter of complaint written against Deloitte Zimbabwe,
the audit team was accused of lack of professionalism and possible manipulation of the audit findings to suit an agenda.


“I am writing this email as an official complaint against the team of
forensic auditors from Deloitte and I have come to the conclusion the whole
point of their five-week (and further extending) stay is to ensure that they
frustrate me into getting their objectives.


“I am having a problem with their levels of professionalism, or lack of it
therein. Bullying, lying, levelling conditions and accusations, misrepresenting, threatening among others have become their norm and honestly, I have become upset.

I am beginning to feel victimised and I believe that is not part of what their job entails,” reads part of the letter.


Deloitte Zimbabwe said it stands by the outcome of the audit report.
“Our understanding of the client’s feedback to our proposal was that the
client is reducing the scope on the basis of the consideration it cited in the correspondence.

Deloitte did the investigation independently based on the reduced scope. We stand by the outcome of the report and reject any insinuation that the Client manipulated Deloitte to a predetermined outcome of the investigation,” Deloitte Zimbabwe said.


The allegations at AIZ saw Amnesty International shutting down its Zimbabwe branch over alleged abuse of donor funds and fraud by staff.

This was after the human rights group launched a forensic audit into suspected graft and misconduct involving millions of dollars and Amnesty Zimbabwe has indefinitely been placed under administration.

AIZ refused to comment on the allegations citing that the case was still before the courts.


“The matter is before the courts. It is sub judice, and if there is any issue with the audit record, it will be dealt with at trial,” AIZ said.

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