Tuesday, 28 July 2015

China Lottery Online Not a Safe Bet

Some punters here are hoping to beat the system at China Lottery Online
Those who play the lottery in China may want to think twice when they want to try their luck.

The National Audit Office reported a month ago that a whopping 16.9 billion yuan in lottery funds from 2012 to 2014 have still been unaccounted for.

Wang Wenzhi, a veteran journalist with the Xinhua-affiliated Economic Information Daily newspaper may have the answer.

He wrote a letter to the Ministry of Finance, that was later leaked online, claiming it was technically possible for employees of China Lottery Online to install malware in computer systems "to make themselves winners", he said.

State-owned China Lottery Online operates computerized video lottery terminals and games. It also draws winning numbers and pays out billions of yuan in prize money each year.

Journalist Wang Wenzhi has uncovered other scandals before
Wang claimed the concentration of these functions in one company opened the possibility for "irregularities" in the management of data, prizes and funds.

He also said the lottery company was inadequately supervised by the authorities.

This is not the first time Wang fired a warning shot.

In May he wrote a related article that although China Lottery Online is supposed to be a state-owned business, he said it was controlled by its general manager, He Wen, who owned 60 percent of the company.

Wang accused He of using lottery funds for the benefit of the family of an unnamed government official.

While China Lottery Online generates ticket sales of more than 130 billion yuan in the 12 years until July last year, He's firms earned more than 2 billion yuan from operating the lottery.

As a result, He sued the Economic Information Daily for defamation, but the newspaper has asked the court to adjourn the case because the Ministry of Civil Affairs is investigating.

Wang is not new to exposing corruption. In an online post last year, he claimed that Song Lin, then chairman of China Resources, had a mistress in Hong Kong who allegedly helped Song launder large amounts of money from corrupt deals.

Two days after the post, anti-graft officials announced an investigation into Song, who was later sacked by the company for "suspected serious violations of discipline and law".

Either Wang is doing excellent investigative journalism, which is very hard to do, but given his Xinhua credentials it is possible, or he's got some contacts on the inside who want to take down He, or a combination of both.

Regardless, how this story unfolds will be one to watch.

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