Ex-Lotto official sued

2012-03-19 00:00

A CONTROVERSIAL former lottery official is accused of splurging Lotto cash on luxury travel and chauffeurs and fiddling his books on a R19 million grant.

Now the National Lottery Board has launched a lawsuit claiming back the R19 million from a R32,2 million grant made to the Jazz Foundation in June 2010. At that time, Jazz Foundation CEO Oupa Salemane was still a member of the national lottery agency responsible for allocating grants to arts and culture organisations.

He did recuse himself from the funding decisions relating to his own applications, but the Jazz Foundation was, nevertheless, tremendously successful.

These revelations come in the wake of leaked confidential Lotteries Board tape recordings in which it was claimed that Salemane had approached the ANC Youth League in 2009 to intervene on its behalf with the former Lotteries Board chairperson and the government to prevent the board taking it to court over allegedly misspent Lotto cash.

The R32 million grant was for staging four jazz concerts or festivals — Jazz Meets Symphony, Mogale Arts Festival, Tribute Legend Concert and Melodi Concerts. The concerts featured big-ticket performers such as Judith Sephuma and Hugh Masekela.

The grant application shows that Salemane had initially requested almost R58 million over one year. The board paid the foundation R19,3 million in 2010, and agreed to pay the balance of R12,9 million once the foundation had provided detailed reports and financial statements of how the money was spent.

But, the board claims in papers filed in the North Gauteng High Court, that the foundation breached the conditions of its grant agreement by:

• providing “false and misleading” information in its progress report and failing to provide proof of payments to support its progress report;

• submitting invoices to the board that don’t agree with actual amounts paid to a contractor;

• contracting an events management company, espAfrika, effectively “ceding and transferring the implementation of the project to a third party”;

• following procurement practices disallowed by the grant agreement, and;

• using grant money for “entertainment, activities an/or luxury travel, in terms of which [the Jazz Foundation’s] directors were chauffeured in hired luxury vehicles.

The board states in its affidavit that “despite lawful demand”, the foundation had not repaid the money.

Salemane told Media24 Investigations he had only received the summons last week and insisted he was innocent.

The current lawsuit is a virtual re-run of a 2009 dispute between the foundation and the board, where a forensic audit by the board into a R15 million grant uncovered gross financial mismanagement and use of lottery money in contravention of its grant agreement.

The dispute led to two court cases, the first of which the foundation won, and the second one, confidential recordings of board meetings suggest, was settled out of court following political interference.

• To view the full legal summons from the National Lotteries Board to the Jazz Foundation go to http://www.m24i.co.za/lotto_summons/

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