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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