Three Danish aid projects in Vietnam have been shut down following reports of widespread fraud. The development minister, Christian Friis Bach (Radikale), cut off funding to all three projects after an independent review by Price Waterhouse Coopers uncovered “numerous irregularities”.
“It is important to crack down on those caught misusing Danish aid funds in order to clearly demonstrate the consequences,” Friis wrote on the ministry’s website. “Those that cheat must be stopped and punished.”
The projects in question were concerned with climate change research funded by Danida, the Foreign Ministry's aid organisation. The misuse of funds included excessive charges for local services, questionable service contracts, major discrepancies between project ledgers and unauthorised spending. The amount of funds misused is still being investigated but could be as much as 3.3 million kroner. Friis has asked the Vietnamese government to assist with the investigation. He warned that he will also be taking a close look at similar Danida projects in Ghana and Tanzania.
“Cheating and suspicion shouldn’t be allowed to damage the many solid and important projects we are involved in, “said Friis, adding that all reports involving fraud or misuse of Danida funds would now be made available on the organisation’s website.
Along with the new case in Vietnam, there is an on-going embezzlement investigation into the disappearance of 700,000 kroner from the accounts of the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), an NGO that receives support from Danida. The money is believed to have been taken by someone in the organisation's Copenhagen office, and it is likely that some of the missing money came from Denmark.