South African Authorities Raid National Lotteries Commission Offices in Corruption Probe

  • Special Investigating Unit is looking into allegations of maladministration, corruption
  • Probe will look at all NLC transactions dating back to January 2014
  • Raid follows fraud allegations after 20 people shared last week's Powerball jackpot win
  • NLC has been subject to two other ongoing investigations in recent times
Suited man passing on white envelope to another person
A raid operation took place on Tuesday as South African authorities continue their corruption investigation into the National Lotteries Commission. [Image:]

Part of a fresh investigation

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) in South Africa raided the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) offices on Tuesday as part of its investigation into allegations of maladministration and corruption. 

The SIU received a search warrant for the Pretoria offices of the country’s sole national lottery regulator and license holder on Monday. The raid was to enable investigators to “come and get documents from the commission and all other areas where we can find the documents.”

The SIU is an independent statutory body in South Africa tasked with preventing and recovering financial losses to the state that result from corruption, maladministration, and fraud. The NLC regulates and monitors all lottery competitions, including fund-raising activities by non-profit organizations. The commission also occupies the role of grant funder for projects aimed at improving the livelihoods of local communities.

The SIU is currently gathering relevant information relating to all NLC transactions covering the period of January 1, 2014 to November 6, 2020. In particular, SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said they are looking into the “granting of disbursements that were done.”

Specific allegations abound

There are a number of specific allegations against the NLC that the SIU is currently investigating. These include serious maladministration, unlawful expenditure or misappropriation of public property or money, and unlawful or improper conduct by NLC workers or representatives. 

serious maladministration, unlawful expenditure or misappropriation of public property or money

Other allegations concerning the lottery body are the negligent or intentional loss of public funds or damage to public property, as well as unapproved, irregular or unlawful acquisitive acts, measures, practices or transactions that affect state property.

The NLC said it will fully cooperate with the investigation until it comes to a close. While the commission’s daily business will continue, its board and management have committed to ensuring “clean governance” in the running of operations.

Suspicious lottery draw incident

Yesterday’s office raid follows last week’s accusations of fraud after the national lottery numbers formed an unusual sequence, which saw 20 people share the jackpot win. The PowerBall lottery numbers drawn on December 1 were five, six, seven, eight, and nine, with the PowerBall number being ten. 

national lottery numbers formed an unusual sequence, and 20 people shared in the jackpot win

While the lottery organizers claimed this type of number sequence is normal, others alleged there was some sort of fraud. The claims led the NLC to announce it would investigate this “unprecedented” draw.

It is uncommon to see a large number of lottery participants share a jackpot prize. The probability of a person winning the PowerBall lottery in South Africa is one in 42,375,200. The 20 people who got lucky in last week’s draw will each receive ZAR5.7m ($381,592).

Not the first time

This is not the first time that the NLC has been the subject of an inquiry in recent times. It has also faced two other investigations, one of which the NLC board itself commissioned through an independent audit firm, SkX Protiviti. The goal of the latter was to look into allegations of improper use of funds that were to go to good causes.

South Africa’s Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition Ebrahim Patel commissioned the other investigation into possible NLC corruption. To date, there have been no findings from the two cases.

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