An estimated $6 million stolen from the Red Cross during the Ebola Crisis

Staff are accused of undertaking fraudulent activities, including payroll theft.

An estimated $6 million in aid was stolen from the Red Cross during the Ebola outbreak by staff undertaking fraudulent activities, including payroll theft, it claims.

The theft occurred between 2014-16 in three West African countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – where personnel employed by the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) and Red Crescent Societies were helping to care for victims of the deadly virus and prevent at least another 10,500 cases.

But internal investigations have revealed that $2.7 million were lost due to price inflation, which included overestimating the costs of “relief items, payroll and payment of volunteer incentives”.

At least $2.23 million disappeared in Sierre Leone due to collusion between former IRFC employees and local bank officials in what is believed to be exchange rate fixing. A further $1.17 is thought to have been lost in Guinea due to a combination of fake and exaggerated customs bills.

A statement from the IFRC said the organisation was “committed to holding all those involved in any form of fraud to account, and to reclaiming the misappropriated, diverted, or otherwise illegally taken funds”. It added that it had now introduced stricter standards that it called the “triple defence” in order to prevent future fraud and corruption.

These measures include introducing cash spending limits in high-risk settings, the early deployment of trained auditors when setting up the first wave of emergency operations and mandatory fraud prevention training for all staff being deployed to an emergency situation. Also on the list was the creation of an Audit and Risk Commission of the IFRC Governing Board and a dedicated, independent internal investigation function.