Silence puts NGO under AusAID's watch

Pallets of emergency aid supplies from the Australian Agency for International Development for victims of cyclone in Fiji in December 2012. Photo by: LAC Dan Pilhorn / Commonwealth of Australia

The Australian aid agency has put one of its implementing partners under close watch upon learning of the latter’s involvement in a fraud allegation last year.

The International Relief and Development implements a number of aid programs in Afghanistan. But in October, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction raised concerns regarding a $498 million road project agreement between IRD and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

In a letter, SIGAR told USAID that its investigators were conducting a fraud investigation against IRD, following allegations of “significant waste and mismanagement in the Afghanistan road project … and related allegations concerning kickbacks and bribery by IRD senior employees.” It recommended that USAID “consider suspending action on IRD requests” pending the investigation’s outcome.

It is not yet clear if SIGAR has concluded its investigation on the road project. But in its quarterly report published at the end of January, IRD remains under audit by SIGAR  this time concerning the USAID-funded Southern Region Agricultural Development Project.

“IRD’s response, and other AusAID inquiries with the US Government, indicate that there is no active fraud investigation underway involving IRD,” the Australian Agency for International Development said in a press release.

AusAID also noted “no indication of fraud by IRD” in AusAID programs in Afghanistan.

Still, the agency said it “will closely monitor IRD’s performance in delivering on their contractual obligations” with AusAID, suggesting that it was not informed of the allegation immediately  an action included in its contracts.

AusAID-funded projects in Afghanistan being implemented by IRD include teacher training and a program aimed at improving Afghan ministries’ public financial management.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.