OUR PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT AND FRAUD POLICY

 

Fraud Violations

Centre for Civil Society Strengthening (CCSS) does not tolerate fraud, bribery, receipt of inappropriate gratuities or other forms of corruption in the conduct of its programs or by (organization’s) employees.  CCSS shall investigate all allegations of financial malfeasance and shall take legal and/or disciplinary action (including but not limited to demotion, suspension, suspension without pay or termination) against those found to have engaged in or assisted in any such conduct.  It is CCSS policy to report all instances of fraud, bribery, inappropriate gratuities or corruption in which there is credible evidence of a violation of Malawian law or legislation to a supervisor or the Executive Director and eventually donor.

Events of questionable, fraudulent or illegal nature which might be, or might appear to an outsider to be, in violation of organization’s standards and policies must be reported immediately to a supervisor, the Executive Director or Finance Manager or board members as may be necessary.

CCSS requires compliance by all staff with all applicable laws and policies that pertain to maintaining the highest standards of integrity and ethical conduct, both in fact and in appearance. In addition, staff is expected to report any fraudulent acts they may witness and to adhere to the relevant standards.

For the purposes of this policy, the following definitions shall apply:

Fraud – Taking or attempting to take or obtain by intentional deception, money or any other benefit when not entitled to that benefit.

Bribery – An inducement or reward offered, promised or provided in order to bring about the improper or illegal performance of an action by another person.

Inappropriate[1] Gratuities – receipt of money or other benefit (of more than nominal value) by an organization employee or agent from a vendor, contractor, or participant in organization programs whether or not the gratuity is intended to influence or obtain beneficial treatment from the employee.  Inappropriate gratuities may also be referred to as kickbacks.


Compliance to the Law and Donor Agreements

CCSS is committed to complying with anti-fraud laws and regulations, as well as Donor Agreements and will cooperate with appropriate law enforcement, regulatory agencies or Donor Representatives appointed to investigate instances of fraud.


Investigation and Disciplinary Action for Non-Compliance. 

All suspected potential fraud will be investigated and if appropriate, pursued for prosecution.  Disciplinary action will include any of the following: warnings, suspension, and sanctions, termination of employment or contracts, recommendation of any license revocation, recommendation of criminal prosecution, civil litigation and restitution.

In the case of proven fraud, or suspected fraud of a serious nature, Organization reserves the right to refer the matter to the appropriate judicial authorities at the earliest possible juncture.

If an employee has knowledge or suspicion of illegal or fraudulent activity or similar irregularity, they should report this to their supervisor immediately. If the supervisor is inappropriate, the concerns should be reported to the Executive Director, or Finance Manager or board members as may be necessary. An employee who intentionally files a false report of wrongdoing will be subject to discipline.

Any instance of fraud should be reported by the Organization to Donors immediately.


Controls to Prevent Fraud

On a day to day basis, all staff are responsible for scrutinizing documents for compliance to policy and detection of fraud and should therefore be alert to symptoms of wrongdoing. Upon discovery of any potential wrongdoing, finance or other staff must immediately notify the Executive Director, or Finance Manager or board members as may be necessary.

  • Fraud awareness training should be an ongoing process encouraged and supported by the organization. Financial staff should take lead and this should be done biannually and whenever new staff is recruited.
  • Financial staff is responsible for knowing what types of fraud can occur and for being alert to symptoms of wrongdoing. Financial staff including the Finance and Administrative Manager will conduct the “Review of Fraud Risk, Prevention and Internal Controls” (see below) once a year and report their conclusions to the Board through the Director or his designate. This review should be completed on calendar year basis and be completed and documented no later than December 31, each year. This documentation should be submitted to the Executive Director as when completed but no later than December 31.

Review of Fraud Risk, Prevention and Internal Controls :

  1. Risk Assessment for cash:
    • Review of different types of cash payments received, with particular attention to miscellaneous payments.
    • Review of Petty Cash procedures. Make sure that the periodic and surprise cash counts are performed.
    • Review of procedures of any field cash disbursements.
  1. Banking and Checks
    • Review of custody, preparation, signature, and delivery responsibilities/ processes
    • Establish procedures for bank reconciliation reviews, share reconciliations with the Board of Directors.
  1. Procurement:
    • Review division of procurement responsibilities. Review segregation of duty between approvals, purchases and payment.  Establish Procurement committee.
    • Suppliers and Consultants: Review of supplier list and its update process in the QuickBooks database; supplier selection process. Investigate unusual vendor names. Perform vendor checks.
    • Review third-party relationships; any informal communications between employees and suppliers, consultants.
  1. Property
    • Review of inventories.
    • Review lease contracts to make sure there is no conflict of interest in office leases.
    • Review access to valuable property
  1. Accounting system:
    • Setup of users and passwords.
    • Routine backups kept in secure location, not accessible to data entry personnel.
  1. Information System:
    • Review User access rights.
    • Establish periodic password changes.
  2. Training:
    • Confirm when training on fraud prevention completed by all staff and financial staff.
  1. Review of adequacy of internal controls.
    • Review the overall plan of control and determine what factors if any have changed for example growth in programs have controls been enhanced accordingly
  1. Review if Additional Controls or Training Needed for Prevention and Detection:
    • Creation or modification of internal controls based on results of the risk assessment.
    • Identify any training needs of staff regarding internal controls and/or fraud prevention.
  1. Physical security
    • Assess the physical security of the office(s) and determine whether security is adequate to reasonably safe guard staff and assets given the local security situation

Whistle Blowers Protection

A whistleblower is as an employee who reports an activity that he/she considers to be illegal or dishonest. The whistleblower is not responsible for investigating the activity or for determining fault or corrective measures, organization management is charged with these responsibilities.

CCSS employees and beneficiaries are provided with whistle-blower protections in two important areas—confidentiality and against retaliation.

If an employee has knowledge of or a concern of illegal or dishonest fraudulent activity, the employee is expected to contact his/her manager, or ED or Finance Manager or board members as may be necessary or Finance Manager or board members as may be necessary. The employee must exercise sound judgment in raising concerns to avoid baseless allegations. An employee who intentionally files a false report of wrongdoing maybe be subject to discipline.

The confidentiality of the whistleblower will be maintained. However, identity may have to be disclosed to conduct a thorough investigation, to comply with the law and to provide accused individuals their legal rights of defense. CCSS will not retaliate against a whistleblower. This includes, but is not limited to, protection from retaliation in the form of an adverse employment action such as termination, compensation decreases, poor work assignments, and threats of physical harm. If employee feels retaliated against, report to ED or Finance Manager or board members or donor as may be necessary.


Investigation

Suspected fraud will be investigated in an independent, open-minded and professional manner with the aim of protecting the interests of both organization and the suspected individual(s). CCSS is also a subject to investigation if fraud is related to donor funding.


[1] Example of inappropriate, unethical or fraudulent acts include but are not limited to–

forgery or alteration of any document or policy; falsifying time sheets or expense reports; abuse of sick time; theft; billing for services not performed and other irregular billing practices such as inflating charges for services or products; bribery and corruption, deception and collusion, and other such improprieties.