COPE unearths serious fraud committed at Lotteries Board

COPE unearths serious fraud committed at Lotteries Board

The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) has unearthed serious fraud committed at the Development Lotteries Board.

The COPE Committee headed by Professor Charitha Herath reviewed the Auditor General’s Reports of 2017 and 2018 and the current performance of the Development Lotteries Board.

It was revealed at the meeting that in 2008, a cab worth Rs. 8,095,000 was taken over by a driving agency and registered in the name of the Board by the then Chairman without the approval of any board official.

The COPE committee has been inquiring at length about the disappearance of the vehicle since then.

The Development Lotteries Board had to pay nearly Rs. 16,190,000 to the company for non-payment for the vehicle. The total loss as on 31st December 2018 including the legal expenses incurred by the Board for this case was Rs. 26,634,185.

The current Chairman of the Board stated that a civil case has been filed to recover the loss as per the instructions of the Attorney General’s Department.

COPE also observed that a studio built at a cost of Rs. 38.75 million for the purpose of recording development lottery draw programs, has not been used for the intended purpose since 2015.

Furthermore, the COPE committee noted that the Development Lotteries Board had unilaterally violated an agreement to lease a building at 234 Vauxhall Street to the Board and had not been able to recover the amount of Rs. 5,700,000 owed to the Board for 14 years.

Board officials said that the building had been rented by the Ministry of Trade when the Development Lotteries Board was under the Ministry of Trade and that the Ministry had instructed its Board to acquire the building.

The COPE Committee also drew attention to the allocation of official vehicles for 08 unqualified non-transport owners as per Public Enterprises Circular No. PED /01/2015 dated 25 May 2015 and payment of Rs. 2,590,545 for fuel allowances in 2017 and 2018.

The officials said that these vehicles had been given with the approval of the Development Lotteries Board when it was under the Presidential Secretariat and that the Ministry had later instructed, in a letter, to suspend providing such vehicles.

The COPE Chairman instructed the Secretary to the Ministry of Finance to conduct a formal inquiry and send a report to the committee with all relevant documents. (Colombo Gazette)

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