The Internal Auditor is tasked with overseeing and coordinating all investigations under this Manual and may obtain the advice of the Legal Advisor.
The individual who will conduct the investigation is decided by the Internal Auditor, on a case by case basis and should be a senior staff member. The choice of "Investigator Officer" is decided in consultation with the Head of Division that is most equipped to handle the complaint and that has no conflict of interest and is not the subject of the complaint. As a general guideline, the following areas should handle the investigation of complaints:
- internal audit relating to financial fraud including financial fraud within projects;
- a project division if it involves technical matters relating to projects;
- security relating to theft and security violations;
- human resources relating to ethics and SPREP's Organisational Values and Code of Conduct except for financial fraud; and
- Secretariat's Legal Counsel relating to legal matters and this would often be in an advisory support function to the investigation.
What does SPREP investigate?
The Fraud Prevention and Whistleblower Protection Policy describes the definition of fraud as the following:
Corrupt practice, which is the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting, directly or indirectly, anything of value to influence improperly the actions of another party;
Fraudulent practice, which is any act or omission, including a misrepresentation, that knowingly or recklessly misleads, or attempts to mislead, a party to obtain a financial or other benefit or to avoid an obligation;
Coercive practice, which is impairing or harming, or threatening to impair or harm, directly or indirectly, any party or the property of the party to influence improperly the actions of a party;
Collusive practice, which is an arrangement between two or more parties designed to achieve an improper purpose, including influencing improperly the actions of another party;
Abuse, which is theft, waste or improper use of assets related to SPREP activity, either committed intentionally or through reckless disregard;
Conflict of interest, any situation in which a party has interests that could improperly influence that party's performance of official duties and responsibilities, contractual obligations, or compliance with applicable laws and regulations;
Obstructive practices, which includes (a) deliberately destroying, falsifying, altering, or concealing of evidence material to a SPREP investigation; (b) making false statements to materially impede a SPREP investigation; (c) threatening, harassing, or intimidating any party to prevent it from disclosing its knowledge of matters relevant to the investigation or from pursuing the investigation; or (d) materially impeding SPREP's contractual rights of audit or access to information; and
Retaliation against whistleblowers or witnesses, which is any detrimental act, direct or indirect, recommended, threatened or taken against a whistleblower or witness, in a manner material to a complaint because of the report or cooperation with a SPREP investigation by the whistleblower or witness.
What this means is that SPREP will only investigate complaints that are founded and backed by evidence if it meets the above definition of fraud. In practice, this would mean the following:
- Procurement fraud
- Corruption and bribery
- Theft and embezzlement
- Entitlements fraud
- Misuse of SPREP resources
- Failure to comply with financial disclosure requirements
- Improper recruitment
- Retaliation against whistleblowers
- Sexual exploitation and sexual abuse
- Assault and threat
- Workplace harassment
- Abuse of authority
- Failure to comply with local laws/abuse of privileges and immunities
- Any other misconduct, such as willful, reckless or grossly negligent disregard of SPREP's regulations, rules, and administrative instructions.
What does SPREP NOT investigate?
SPREP will not investigate allegations that do not constitute misconduct, but indicate managerial issues or interpersonal issues.