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External fraud fact sheet

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) does not tolerate fraudulent or dishonest behaviour and is committed to preventing, detecting and responding to fraud in all aspects of its business.

What is fraud?

The Commonwealth fraud control framework defines fraud as ‘dishonestly obtaining a benefit, or causing a loss, by deception or other means’. In this definition, ‘benefit’ refers to both tangible items, such as money or objects, and intangible benefits including power, status or information.

External fraud means fraud committed by external parties against DFAT, including recipients of Australian aid program funding, scholarships, corporate contractors and consular clientele. Offences related to the Passports Act 2005 are not included in this fact sheet.

Preventing fraud

DFAT manages thousands of activities across more than 100 countries. Many of these countries are challenging environments to operate in as governance arrangements and attitudes towards accountability and transparency are different from Australia.

In such contexts there is a much higher risk of fraud and corruption. For this reason DFAT has robust systems and procedures in place to protect public money from fraud and corruption.

  • a comprehensive internal Fraud Control Plan, a Fraud Strategy Statement and an external Fraud Control Toolkit for funding recipients which identify key fraud risks and the governance framework to control these risks;
  • fraud and corruption awareness training for all staff, with more targeted training for staff working overseas (particularly for staff working on the aid program);
  • dedicated units within DFAT to oversee fraud and corruption policies, awareness, reporting and case management;
  • risk management practices that consider fraud and corruption risks in the design of DFAT programs;
  • due diligence checks on contractors, NGOs and other organisations as part of our procurement process;
  • mandatory fraud control provisions in our contracts and grant agreements and monitoring compliance with these requirements; and
  • working with our aid program partners to minimise both the occurrence and impact of fraud and corruption. This includes briefing their staff on emerging fraud risks and signing joint statements with partner governments and organisations on collaboration in addressing fraud and corruption.

Reporting and managing fraud

Fraud prevention is the responsibility of all DFAT staff. DFAT staff must ensure they are aware of their responsibilities and obligations under the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct or the Locally Engaged Staff Code of Conduct, with respect to fraud prevention, detection and reporting. This responsibility extends to external parties that receive Australian Government funds, including commercial contractors, third party service providers, partner governments, multilateral organisations, non-government organisations and all other funding recipients.

DFAT takes all allegations of fraud seriously and handles allegations in a confidential, prompt and professional manner. See Fraud Strategy Statement for detail on reporting fraud.

External fraud in 2018-19

External fraud allegations received include:

  • 142 fraud referrals were accepted as cases with 95 per cent relating to the Australian aid program. 

External fraud investigation outcomes include:

  • 105 fraud cases were closed,
  • fraud was substantiated in 42 fraud cases (40 per cent of total fraud cases closed – Figure 1 shows the results of investigations where fraud was proven), and
  • where fraud was substantiated, 83 per cent of the fraud loss was recovered.

Results of investigations where fraud was proven

  • 52% Referred to law enforcement
  • 31% Termination, resignation of agreement or employment
  • 17% Administrative sanctions

For more information about fraud control within DFAT, refer to DFAT’s Fraud Control page.

To report an alleged, suspected or detected fraud, please contact:
DFAT – Director, Fraud Control Section
GPO Box 887, Canberra ACT 2601 Australia
Phone: +61 2 6178 4321


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