A special audit unit has been set up within the Audit Office for whistleblowers in the public sector who want to report fraud and other irregularities.
The establishment of the unit comes on the back of laws enacted in 2014, which recommended that the Audit Office facilitate voluntary reporting of fraud and other irregularities, and ensure there is legal protection for whistleblowers.
An Audit Report for the period 2014-2015, which was produced by the Office of the Auditor and submitted to the Legislative Assembly last year December and recently tabled, made recommendations for the setting up of the special audit unit based on the enacted laws. The unit has been formed with newly qualified certified fraud examiners (C.F.E.) and will recruit legal and police expertise to cater for civil servants-turned-whistleblowers.
“The special audit unit will also make use of new audit laws effective from January 2014 with whistle blowing clauses facilitating the voluntary reporting of fraud and irregularities with legal protection and without repercussions."
“The special audit unit will also set up a Samoa C.F.E. forum or chapter to network and seek resources and expertise from A.C.F.E. when required. The audit office C.F.E's have received C.F.E. training and qualification and now need the professional experience to translate theory into practice,” stated the report.
As part of the unit’s capacity building program, staff will receive C.F.E. training and be able to network and seek resources and expertise from the A.C.F.E. when required.
“The Audit Office C.F.E. have received C.F.E. training and qualification and now need the professional experience to translate theory into practice."
“The special audit approach in the order of execution will be: risk assessment/profiling activities; awareness activities; education activities; prevention and deterrence activities; detection and identification activities and investigation activities."
“Furthermore the special unit will provide assistance to prosecution of detected and investigated cases of fraud, abuse and corruption,” stated the report.
The Audit Office believes that the success in the update of financial statements, audits and annual reports to parliament – due largely to the cooperation and assistance from Ministries, Public Bodies, Constitutional and Parliamentary Offices and other Offices of the State – will be applied again in rolling out its C.F.E. reforms.”
Under the powers of the 2014 law, the certified fraud examiners will be able to examine data and records to detect and trace fraudulent transactions as well as interview suspects, write investigation reports, advise clients on their findings and testify at trials.