About 79 million meticais (about 1.16 million US dollars) have been stolen during the first six months of the year from the Mozambican government coffers by state employees assigned to various government institutions.

According to the daily newspaper Noticias, the Central Office for the Fight against Corruption (GCCC) has managed to recover 14 million meticais.

Speaking to the media here Monday, GCCC Spokesman Eduardo Sumana stated that the diversion of funds was performed by public servants working in cahoots with other criminals.

In particular, the majority of the fraud was carried out by the operators of the electronic State Financial Management System (e-SISTAFE) through which the government pays suppliers of goods and services.

Sumana explained that after a genuine construction company was awarded a public works contract, the fraudsters set up fictitious business with a similar company name. This fake company opened a bank account which was then used to divert the funds using the e-SISTAFE system.

He added that in other cases, officials had entered false invoices into the e-SISTAFE system on behalf of fake companies which they own.

In order to avoid having the funds seized, the fraudsters then withdraw the money in cash. Sumana stated that this was typical of money laundering and those caught had also been charged with this crime.

During the first half of this year, the GCCC had registered 474 criminal cases resulting from complaints from State institutions and the public, official investigations by the GCCC, and audits carried out by the Administrative Tribunal and the General Inspectorate of Finance.

Of these cases, 250 related to accepting bribes, 52 were for embezzlement, and 88 for active corruption. The remaining cases were for abuse of power, position, or function