The Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) of the National Prosecuting Authority secured a preservation order in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, 121 of 1998 at the Pretoria High Court earlier today. The order was to preserve various properties which are the proceeds of unlawful activities at the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) following serious allegations of serious maladministration and corruption.

This is after the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) was, in terms of Proclamation No. R. 32 of 2020 published in Government Gazette No 43885 of 6 November 2020, directed by the President to investigate certain specified matters listed in the proclamation for the period 2014 to up to now.

Widespread corruption, fraud, theft, and contraventions of the Lotteries Act were discovered by the SIU against officials of the NLC and certain Non-Profit Organisations (NPO’s) who applied for NLC grants and who worked in concert with each other to defraud the NLC.

The preliminary investigations by SIU revealed that the NLC lost almost R344 million from the grants that were meant for the needy in impoverished communities such as the reconstruction of a school that was torched during protests in Vuwani in Limpopo, a drug rehabilitation centre in Eersterust and the construction of an old age home at Kuruman, Northern Cape.

Instead, the grants were used to buy luxurious properties for the benefit of employees of the NLC and members of the NPO’s and/or their family members /friends. In most instances, the properties were registered in the names of the entities and not in the name of private individuals. Some entities masqueraded as construction companies but did not do construction (or very little) and were effectively used as money laundering vehicles to receive kickbacks from NPO’s who received grants from the NLC.

Under preservation are 9 luxurious residential estates to the value of R22 404 000, 1 BMW 420i Convertible and 2 Ocean Baskets franchises which are all linked to grants allocated by the NLC and which have nothing to do with the purposes of the grants.

The next step will be to apply for a forfeiture order. Once a forfeiture order is granted, the properties will be sold at public auction and proceeds returned to the NLC.

Criminal cases against the former Chief financial officer, Philemon Letwaba, Chief Executive Officer Lesley Ramulifho, and the attorney who did legal work for NLC who were implicated in the fraud and corruption have been opened and are under investigations.

The NPA wants to assure the public that it is relentless in its fight against organised crime, including those employees in Government Institutions who steal from the most vulnerable to enrich themselves and fund their opulent lifestyles.

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