South Africa

The man who stole over R1 million per month from his company for a year

Fidelis Moema, a former KPMG bursary specialist, allegedly stole R16.5 million from the company over a one-year period through a bursary scheme.

The alleged fraud occurred between 2021 and 2022. Moema is suspected of diverting funds intended for students to accounts belonging to friends and companies associated with them. Some of the money reportedly ended up in his own account.

Moema was dismissed as a KPMG employee in November 2022, following a stringent disciplinary process related to non-compliance with firm policies. He was a bursary specialist at KPMG before his dismissal.

After his dismissal, KPMG identified potential fraud committed by Moema and initiated an internal forensic investigation. 

This investigation uncovered fraudulent behaviour related to bursary funds, and as a result, KPMG reported the matter to the relevant law enforcement authorities in February 2023. 

According to a statement from the South African Police Service (SAPS), Moema is accused of misdirecting funds intended for bursary recipients between 2021 and 2022.

“Instead of paying university fees on behalf of students, the accused would pay the money into the bank accounts belonging to friends and individuals who own companies. The money would then be paid back into his personal bank account,” the police said.

According to the SAPS statement, Moema’s fraudulent actions caused the audit firm to lose R16.5 million.

Moema’s mother, Dikeledi Moema, has also been charged. She has been accused of receiving R559,055 from her son. Sowetan Live reported that she was a former chief director in the presidency.

Moema and his mother appeared in the dock on 4 June, along with two co-accused, businessman Trevor Machimana and Tshwane Metro Police Department officer Lebogang Sigubudu, according to News24.

Following this court appearance, all the accused have been granted bail while awaiting trial. They face charges of theft, fraud, and money laundering.

“We continue to work closely with the authorities to bring this matter to a close,” KPMG has said.

“While KPMG had internal controls in place to mitigate such issues, the forensic investigation performed identified improvements, and additional measures of control have been implemented since the discovery of this issue.”

Towards the end of May, he appeared in the Johannesburg Commercial Crimes Court in Palm Ridge with two of his co-accused. The case was postponed to 31 July 2024.

The postponement was needed to allow the legal representatives to gain access to the evidence against Moema.

Employee fraud rife

Last year, following a similar case of an employee stealing millions from her employers, ENSafrica forensics director Steven Powell said fraud, corruption, and employee theft are rife at companies across South Africa.

Powell advised all companies to assess their fraud risk and do proactive checks to identify employees stealing money.

These checks should include lifestyle audits and an analysis of the vendor database and bank accounts of suppliers, and they should be matched against employee accounts.

CEO of forensic investigative services company CS Forensics, Christo Snyman, has also previously said employee fraud is very likely the most common form of financial fraud in South Africa.

He said employee fraud is costing businesses worldwide billions – including in South Africa – and some experts call the rampant theft a global financial pandemic.

These types of employee fraud (fraud committed by an employee against the employer organisation) include:

  • Asset misappropriation – typical theft cases such as loading a false beneficiary on the company’s account, theft of cash, and submitting false disbursements;
  • Corruption; and
  • Financial statement fraud – over and understatement of financials.

“To put it into perspective, a study on 2,000 employee fraud cases around the world and over 400 in Southern Africa revealed any given business is losing around $117,000 per case (roughly R2 million), equating, on average, to about 5% of company revenue,” he said.

He said to avoid these types of crimes in South Africa, companies must conduct proper background checks, check with previous employers, and do a credit check. 

“Employee fraud is rampant everywhere, and it should be considered a pandemic,” he said.


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