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$20b lottery graft allegation dismissed as rumor

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-11-13 16:40

Bao Xuequan, former head of the China Welfare Lottery Distribution and Management Center, confesses in a video published by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection on Nov 9, 2018. [A screenshot of the video]

The widely circulated and discussed allegations online that 14 officials with the China Welfare Lottery Distribution and Management Center of the Ministry of Civil Affairs embezzled 136 billion yuan ($19.5 billion) was dismissed as rumor by the discipline inspection team working at the Ministry of Civil Affairs, The Beijing News reported Tuesday.

The rumor went viral on Sunday, two days after the portal of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection published confession videos by four former officials with the center. Many internet users were appalled by the scale of the graft and wondered if it was true.

Wang Suying, 57, former head of the center, and Feng Lizhi, 59, former deputy head of the center, were both placed under investigation for alleged graft and other offenses in recent months, and Bao Xuequan, former head of the center, Wang Yunge, former deputy head of the center, were expelled from the Communist Party of China and dismissed from public office for corruption and violating the Party's code of conduct in 2017.

Out of 14 officials caught violating Lottery Management Regulation and causing massive losses of State-owned assets, 12 were put under investigation, and two were admonished, said the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection on Friday together with the confession video.

Eeo.com.cn quoted Su Guojing, the founder of the lottery salon of China and a professor with Beijing College of Social Administration, as saying it's unlikely for the 14 officials to embezzle 136 billion yuan given the relatively light punishment given to them.

What's more, the China Welfare Lottery Distribution and Management Center and China sports lottery management center have access to 1 percent of the sales of the lottery tickets annually as distribution expenses. The total sales of the lottery tickets in China, including the welfare lottery and sports lottery, amounted to 3.2 trillion yuan in the past three decades or so, so the two centers have roughly 32 billion yuan in their disposal, said Su.

Su also believes that with more than one head of the center found with problems exposes the institutional problems with the lottery industry. With lottery sales set to top 500 billion yuan in 2018, more efforts are needed to ensure the orderly and sound development of the industry.

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