SIU gets preservation order to freeze assets of former Lotto boss

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) was on Monday granted a preservation order to freeze the luxury property of Vhutanda Investment whose sole director is a former chairperson of the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), professor Alfred Nevhutanda.

According to the SIU, the R27-million property in Annlin, Pretoria was allegedly purchased with money from the NLC non-profit organisation’s (NPO) grant funds in 2018.

“[The] SIU probe has revealed that the property was funded by NPOs with the money they have received, under the auspices of grant funding, from National Lotteries Commission. At the time of the purchase, Prof Nevhuthanda was chairperson of the NLC board,” said the SIU.

“Five NPOs applied for grant funding at NLC and were jointly funded to the tune of over R100-million. Immediately after funding was received, the NPOs transferred money to a legal firm for the purchase of the property and the furniture.”

The crime busters said the R100-million in funding was supposed to be for community empowerment projects in the North West, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, and Gauteng.

“The R100-million in grant funding was purported to be for community empowerment projects like athletics tracks in North West and Mpumalanga, old-age homes in North West and Limpopo, and a rehabilitation centre in Soshanguve [Gauteng],” it said.

This comes months after the SIU revealed how NLC officials and relatives benefitted from Lotto millions. In March, the SIU presented its findings into the allegations of maladministration, corruption, and fraud to the parliamentary portfolio committee on trade, industry, and competition.

The unit found that the NLC leadership allegedly plundered about R300-million meant for community upliftment projects across the country.

“The SIU investigation has uncovered a web of corruption related to NLC funding and [the] flow of funds to NLC officials, board members, and their family members. The SIU is pursuing all individuals involved in the siphoning of NLC money,” said the SIU in a statement at the time.

SIU chief national investigations officer Leonard Lekgetho described how in one instance a former board member of the NLC allegedly “hijacked” an NPO that was granted at least R23-million in funding to build an old-age home in Mpumalanga.

Lekgetho said the project was started and not completed because “individuals connected to the NLC” siphoned the funds.

“The investigation has revealed that R5-million of the R23-million received from the bank account [of the NPO] was transferred to one attorney of [a group of companies] belonging to the former board member for the transfer of luxurious immovable property in favour of their client,” Lekgetho said.

Lekgetho disclosed that the investigation into the same former board member found that an NPO transferred about R3.3-million into the bank account of a company linked to a senior NLC official a day after receiving R7.5-million funding for the construction of a rehabilitation centre in Gauteng.

According to Lekgetho, R1-million was subsequently transferred into the board member’s account by the same company. The same approach was implemented for the construction of a rehabilitation centre in Mpumalanga.

“[Furthermore], the SIU investigation has revealed that during the period March to May 2018, the former board member received a total amount of R5.47-million into his personal bond account from various NPOs. The bond was for his primary residence in Gauteng.”

He added that an investigation into a second former board member found that they had received, either directly or indirectly, at least R10-million from an NPO that was in part used as a deposit for a R27-million house and a deposit for a luxury vehicle.

Noting with concern the SIU’s finding, NLC spokesperson Ndivhuho Mafela said [at the time]: “The commission is confident of its internal processes to ensure fair and equitable funding, and this has been evidenced by the outcomes of external audits conducted in recent years.

“The commission has also noted with concern several inconsistencies in the SIU presentation and the tone of their social media reporting, which unfortunately serves to frame adverse conclusions in the minds of the public while investigations are yet to be concluded. A final report is yet to be presented to the president in terms of the proclamation.”

Mafela added that the commission would not publicly address these “inconsistencies” as the investigation had not been concluded.

He said: “The commission remains committed to applying the principles of openness and transparency in the exercise of its mandate and functions.

“The NLC respects all processes of institutions of state as welcome checks and balances in the process of regulating lotteries and changing the lives of the disadvantaged South Africans.”

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