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US$1m fraud at Trauma Centre

The scam at Trauma Centre, an emergency 24-hour hospital in Belgravia, exposes how vulnerable companies can be if proper accounting procedures and reporting systems are not in place.

Shareholders of African Medical Investments (AMI), the owners of Trauma Centre, hired PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in June last year after suspecting that senior staff managing the hospital’s expansion project were mismanaging project funds.

PwC’s brief was to perform a forensic investigation, including use of forensic technology to image and extract data from computers, covering a period between October 2008 and June 2010.

What the firm discovered was shocking to the shareholders.

The hospital had been prejudiced of US$957 137,46, PwC concluded in a confidential report sent to the AMI earlier this month.

In the report seen by The Standard, PwC attributed the loss to overstatement of payments to suppliers and payroll expenses, abuse of company funds and theft.

PwC laid the blame on Zarina Dudhia who was the custodian of all the cash at the centre.

Dudhia who was employed as the project manager, PwC discovered, was the sole signatory of the bank accounts held at Stanbic, ZB Bank and Metropolitan Bank.

“The conduct of Zarina was not consistent with her duties and responsibilities as there were several incidents of funds that were not accounted for.
“Payments were made to suppliers and contractors who were not working on the hospital expansion project.

“The payments were however being made from funds intended for the hospital expansion project.”

PwC noted that there were no supporting documents for the expenses and payments that were recorded in the cashbook and ledger.

“Through the use of forensic technology, we noted that Zarina created a fictious invoice for Edget Construction with a value of US$113 100,00 from her computer and forwarded it to South Africa for payment.

“The South African office then deposited the money into Stanbic bank account for payment.

“There were a number of invoices where the original invoices that had been issued by suppliers were altered with the intent of inflating the invoice amounts.”

In its recommendations, PwC urged AMI to take disciplinary action against all those who defrauded the organisation, among other deterrent measures.
All in all, PwC said AMI lost US$252 433 through exaggerated payments to suppliers, US$194 881 through personal expenditure paid up from its funds and US$355 000 that was withdrawn from banks but could not be accounted for.
An additional US$52 831 was as a result of inflated payroll expenses.
Vivek Solanki, who was the AMI CEO left the organisation amid investigations of fraud.

Dudhia on the run (Zarina PIC)

ZARINA Dudhia who is at the centre of the fraud that rocked Trauma Centre is a wanted person.
Dudhia whose whereabouts are unknown has been flagged by Interpol who describe her as a 46-year-old woman who speaks English and “Indonesian”.
Interpol says that there is a warrant of arrest for her issued by a Harare magistrate court for fraud and anyone who sees her should report to the police.

Pigeon fowl runs and flood lights

AMI funds meant for the Trauma Centre expansion project were diverted for other things that had nothing to do with the hospital, PwC concluded.

For example the firm noted that a house at Number 3 Brelaides Close, Ballantyne Park was constructed using company funds.

US$7 850 was charged for the construction work and an additional US$12 040 was quoted for the “brick durawalls”.

Contractors were then hired to construct an all-weather tennis court with a basketball board fitted with floodlights for US$27 500.
A new tennis gazebo costing US$2 900 was also constructed.

A drainage system was laid in the garden for US$3 800.

A pool at the house was renovated for US$5 812 and an additional US$500 was charged for the fountain.

For the generator and other electrical components, contractors charged US$9 858,98.

Another company was paid US$1 152 for clearing a consignment of Indian ornaments imported from the United Arab Emirates.

Jeremy Sanford, a representative of AMI told PwC that the consignment was not meant for Trauma Centre.

At another house, Number 3 Betram Road Milton Park, US$1000 was charged for demolishing a pigeon fowl run.

PwC established that AMI does not own these two houses.

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