RSCE Adopts New SOPs for Updating Vendor Banking Details
18.02.2021, Entebbe; In recent times, just like anywhere else in the world, the United Nations (UN) has been susceptible to fraudulent attempts by external sources due to the increased use of online platforms on different internet service providers as staff worked from home because of covid19. Some of these fraudulent attempts were directed to Procurement and finance areas.
It is in this light that the UN has developed new standard operating procedures (SOPs) on vendor banking details. These SOPs offer guidance and direction to procurement in the UN to ensure legitimacy of banking details.
At the RSCE, we process and pay over 4,000 invoices monthly for all peace keeping and political offices in Africa. We worked with colleagues in charge of the process to ensure notices for change to new bank details should be on letter head, fully signed and stamped with justification for change and should have attached identification including voided cheques, bank letter, copy of bank statement or bank card. Bank accounts must be in the names of the Contractor and in the same currency as the contract. Some of these measures have been implemented for many years, however additional verification steps have been introduced to ensure the legitimacy of the payment request.
While at the RSCE, we process payment of invoices, UN procurement who have worked with the vendor and established the contract for which the invoice is being paid deals directly with the vendor. New SOPs also call for due diligence by corresponding Procurement Office before any change in banking details of all existing contracts. Verification of legitimacy of request for change must be by both email and phone call. Once these are checked, the Procurement Official shall transmit the banking details forms to the UN Treasury through the UMOJA Business Workplace only.
The new procedure for changing vendor banking details dictate that the signing of banking detail forms should be done by the same person that signed the contract with the United Nations. This is to minimize the risk of fraudulent activities.
The cost legal and financial risks for holding multiple bank accounts are also taken care of and the new SOPs guide vendors to provide one bank account per currency except in cases where the contract calls for multiple bank accounts.
There are also guidelines in place in case of emergencies and lack of time to follow the procedure for verification especially for new contractors. Exceptions may also be granted provided they are approved by the Director Procurement Division or Chief Procurement Officer in consultation with the Office of Legal affairs.
These new SOPs are now the new standard and will continue to be reviewed as and when the situation dictates with the aim of reducing fraud to the United Nations. The RSCE has already started implementing these new SOPs and these were shared with all Finance and Procurement Officers in the Client Missions and all RSCE client missions’ focal points trained.