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Red Cross admits $6 million for Ebola fight stolen through fraud

Red Cross admits $6 million for Ebola fight stolen through fraud

Collusion between workers and bank drained funds meant to battle the disease.

A few years ago, West Africa experienced an Ebola outbreak, killing almost 12,000 people. The Red Cross was one international organization that traveled to the continent to supposedly help the countries fight the disease and provide proper care to the sick. Three years later, it seems that the Ebola virus isn’t the only parasite sucking the life out of Africans.

Fraud by Red Cross workers and others wasted at least $6 million meant to fight the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the organization confirmed Saturday.

The revelations follow an internal investigation of how the organization handled more than $124 million during the 2014-2016 epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

The disease erupted in Guinea and quickly spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia. The international aid response was initially slow, and money once it arrived was often disbursed quickly in the rush to purchase supplies and get aid workers into the field.

As much as $2.13 million disappeared as the result of “likely collusion” between Red Cross staff and employees at a Sierra Leonean bank, the investigation found. It is believed that the money was lost when they improperly fixed the exchange rate at the height of the epidemic.

Sierra Leone isn’t the only country that experienced Ebola fraud.

In Liberia, investigators found “evidence of fraud related to inflated prices of relief items, payroll and payment of volunteer incentives.” IFRC estimated the loss at $2.7 million.

And in Guinea, at least $1.17 million disappeared because of fraudulent billing practices by a customs clearance service provider. Two other investigations there are pending, IFRC said.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said it was “outraged” the reports. The group indicated it would strengthening its efforts to fight corruption.

It also plans to send trained auditors along with emergency operations teams. Other measures will include additional staff training and “the establishment of a dedicated and independent internal investigation function.”

“These cases must not in any way diminish the tremendous courage and dedication of thousands of volunteers and staff during the Ebola response. They played a critical and widely recognized role in containing and ending the outbreak, and preventing further spread of the Ebola virus internationally,” said Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, the IFRC under secretary general for partnerships.


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Morning Sunshine | November 6, 2017 at 10:08 am

I have not given to the ARC since 2001, when the 9/11 widows sued for millions from them and then spent it on “retail therapy.” I figured if they could sue the ARC, my money was not safe there. I have even started telling the nice tellers at various stores that I will not donate to ARC. Maybe some day soon I will quit getting hit up for money at the register.

We still donate blood through them.

And I give (generous) monetary donations through other sources I trust.

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to Morning Sunshine. | November 6, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    ARC has lost me for many reasons. One was 9/11 when a lot of what was supposed to go to those caught up that tragedy was instead spent on a new phone system for the national headquarters, and “diversity training”. I read that in enough places to find it credible.

    There was bad flooding in Astoria Oregon back in the 90s. The Salvation Army got there, and they set up and were passing out supplies and serving coffee and food for the flooded-out and to volunteers. The Red Cross showed up. First thing they did was post signs for donations.

      johnnycab23513 in reply to The Friendly Grizzly. | November 6, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      In the 1970’s, I was a volunteer firefighter in Lakehurst, NJ. We had a bad summer for brush fires! The Salvation Army sent good trucks in to us with drinks and sandwiches! They would not accept donations on the site. The Red Cross set up a no away from where we were, and charged for drinks and food. A month after things settled down, we received a bill from the Red Cross for our share of the costs they incurred selling s food. I believe we wrote a check for that amount and makes it to the Salvation Army!

Back in the mid 60’s when I was in Army basic training, we would line up on payday to get our Monthly $71. At the pay table there was also a representative for the ARC. If you did not contribute part of your $71 to the ARC, you would be ordered to stand at attention beside the table until pay call was over. Sometimes this could take a couple of hours.

I would never give the ARC a penny then or now. Screw ’em.

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to Anchovy. | November 6, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    A variation on that theme: the Combined Federal Campaign, which is tied to The United Way. When in the navy, the extortionists would come around, saying that our division would have 100% participation. OR ELSE. I would take the option of a single contribution rather than a payroll deduction, and would give one dollar.

    Same thing in some private sector companies. I worked for a division of a famous company that did – among other things – payroll handling for other companies. I won’t mention their name but they are known by their three-letter abbreviation. Anyway, the company had the nerve to come around with pledge cards that already had an amount filled in; this was what the company felt was “appropriate” for what we earned! Twice, I tore the card up in front of the volunteer extortionist.

      Yes, United Way is particularly notorious. A very smooth shakedown operation posing as a charity. Almost Clintonian in scope and efficiency.

      2nd Ammendment Mother in reply to The Friendly Grizzly. | November 6, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      Our school district was really big on every teacher doing 3 things –
      1 – 100% contributions to the United Way Annual Campaign
      2 – 100% contributions to the district’s own foundation to “grant money to classrooms”
      3 – 100% contributions to promoting the district’s bond campaigns

      Every crappy coercive thing I ever hated about being an employee happened when I worked for a government entity…. and that’s considering, I have shoveled poop for a living in my lifetime.

        Same thing with county government. I worked for the Sheriff’s department and if we did not want to contribute to the United Way we were required to sign a statement that we did not contribute. That is one of the few times a civil service board came in handy when I told them to get screwed and fire me if they wanted me to enjoy a luxurious early retirement.

        When they were considering their options, I kept the top of my desk covered with real estate listings of million dollar plus condos in Cabo. They got the message and backed off.

      Rick the Curmudgeon in reply to The Friendly Grizzly. | November 6, 2017 at 5:03 pm

      Yep. And what sucked even more was being a CPO and above and getting railroaded into being a “CFC Coordinator” for your branch/division. Your evals reflected the percentage of participation for your branch/division.

and we are all shocked, shocked

when the IRC cannot bring itself to allow Israel the Star of David as symbol, while allowing the Cross for Christian countries, and the Crescent for muslim countries.

The Star of David, for the only Jewish country, is not allowed.

nice, eh?

AFTER suspicions these past few months, it turns out to be true that Israel’s first-responder organization — Magen David Adom (MDA) — needed to change its policy of serving all over Israel, needed to “abrogate their right to serve in Judea and Samaria,” in order to be admitted to the International Red Cross (IRC).

After MDA had been excluded from the IRC for decades (since Israel’s inception in 1948), a few years ago MDA was belatedly being considered for membership.

Supposedly the issue was one of symbols. IRC would not admit MDA as long as it maintained its Jewish symbol, the Star of David — because the Muslim countries were offended by it.

If MDA were to be considered for international membership, its identity would need to be altered.

money once it arrived was often disbursed quickly

Well, that’s certainly the polite way to put it.

But there are systemic reasons why Africa is mired permanently in the Third World, and as usual, they’re mainly problems in attitude.

I read an interesting account by a European who lived for many years in Mali. Throughout West Africa the concept of “warm money” and “cold money” is endemic. “Warm money” is money which belongs to somebody—money in your wallet, or even in your bank account, is “warm money,” and no West African who considers himself an honest man would dream of pilfering it. But money which doesn’t seem to belong to some specific person, but rather belongs to a corporation, a church, a business, a charitable organization, or is sitting in a collection box, is “cold money” and so fair game for anybody. It’s like money found in an envelope, lying in the street. Even the most straight-arrow African is perfectly OK with pilfering as much of it as he can carry, because he isn’t actually stealing from anybody.

The obvious problem is that all aid money is “cold money,” and all of it which passes through local hands will be stolen. And that means that aid will never get to wherever the problem is unless it’s carried all the way by some Westerner, and that will never happen because it will be loudly denounced as some sort of economic imperialism.

Assuming that the gent informing us of this isn’t full of bananas, this problem is insoluble and the IRC must know that perfectly well. I suspect that he’s not only right, but that the problem extends far beyond West Africa. It would certainly explain a lot about Africa.

No way I ever give to the ARC. They can beg all they want, but I will not give them a penny after watching them mishandle moneys after 9/11.

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to persecutor. | November 6, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    I’ve reached a point where I will not deal with ANY organized charity. Either they have monster overhead – like United Way – or your contributions end up being spent on mailings of address labels, scratch pads, calendars, and other such things.

    I originally planned to leave my entire estate to St. Jude’s, but one $50.00 contribution got me on their list, and I have probably received enough mailings to burn up that $50.00 by now. The kids need treatment and help. Toys for Tots: same thing.

    I can buy my own pads, labels, and calendars.

Has anyone checked the Clinto Foundation? My bet, if it was stolen, that’s where I’d look. Re: Haiti earthquake relief! Clinton’s, the new Eddie Sutton’s.

CaptScientist | November 6, 2017 at 3:45 pm

That is the very reason I don’t give them money….blood, yes…nothing else

A late journalist friend of mine, a Peabody Award winner, used to swear up and down that the American Red Cross was a racket. As someone raised to think of the Red Cross as something like the church, I was incredulous. (He reserved judgment on the World Red Cross.)

Over the years I’ve come to understand that the American Red Cross, far from being a charity, is as commercial as they come. The Red Cross profits on disasters. For the 1899 San Francisco earthquake, the Red Cross collected $50 million and distributed $10 million. One of its funds collected $564 million and distributed $150 million. Its officials do quite well for themselves. The CEO’s salary is $700K.

As for blood, it SELLS the blood it collects, not just for expenses but for profit. So, to those who say they’ll only give blood to the Red Cross, I say, don’t even do that. Give it directly to your local blood bank. Just look them up.

Rick the Curmudgeon | November 6, 2017 at 5:10 pm

Sierra Leone isn’t the only country that experienced Ebola fraud.

Standby for Round Two: “Bubonic Plague Fraud” Same part of the world, same players, different crisis.

Close The Fed | November 6, 2017 at 9:29 pm

I’m sure the Red Cross does well, regardless of who sues it.

They’re not perfect, but no one is.