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Government recovers BRL 42 million from coronavirus aid fraud

. Jun 26, 2020
Government recovers BRL 42 million from coronavirus aid fraud

According to the Office of the Comptroller General (CGU), the Brazilian government has recovered BRL 42 million (USD 7.68 million) in wrongful payments made through the emergency coronavirus aid program. The administration detected over 1.6 million fraud attempts in the cash-transfer scheme.

The emergency aid was a benefit created by Congress and the central government to aid informal workers and low-income families, who were hit the hardest by the economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic. However, numerous cases of fraud and mistaken payments — including to well-paid members of the military — has made it harder for the vulnerable families to receive the monthly BRL 600 benefit.

Head of the CGU Wagner Rosário explained, in an interview to news website Valor Econômico, that the benefit is more susceptible to fraud due to the loose analysis requirements to receive the payment. However, he said that making salary cutoffs more strict would be to the detriment of the true beneficiaries of the program, who rely on the monthly payments as a main source of income during the pandemic.

He also hinted at a greater emphasis by the CGU on investigating possible fraud in emergency aid payments during the pandemic. As previously reported by The Brazilian Report, the federal government has decided to release the name of all emergency salary beneficiaries in an attempt to increase transparency in spotting wrongful payments.

The Federal Accounts Court believes that, as of early June, over 8 million people might have received the emergency salary without being eligible. The emergency salary – originally designed as a three-month payment plan – is set to be extended for a further two months, which could cost an additional BRL 51 billion to the federal budget.  

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Rafael Lima

Rafael is a Communication student at Wake Forest University, and a student fellow of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

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