Monday March 16,2015 : SOUTH AFRICAN GAMBLING BOARD CONDUCT TO BE REVIEWED (Update)
Minister of Trade and Industry reports back to parliamentary committee.
Last year's debacle at the South African National Gambling Board was under the microscope again this week at a further parliamentary portfolio committee hearing addressed by Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies, who is now in possession of a forensic report on the irregularities which occurred during the tenure of the now suspended board.
Minister Davies said that the investigation had uncovered millions of rands in irregular expenditure, a situation that left much to be desired, and he suggested that a full review was now necessary.
The minister did not disclose the names of board members mentioned in the forensic report, and did not submit the forensic report in full, an omission which Opposition politicians criticised as encouraging a lack of accountability among government appointed officials.
However, the minister pointed out that the current session was dealing with a preliminary report, and that the full report would be submitted later.
Irregularities detailed in the investigations are understood to have included:
* Unauthorised 10 year contract leasing of office accommodation far in excess of requirements and costing tens of millions of rands;
* Questions around an electronic monitoring system contract worth a billion rands and the lack of records from the Gambling Board sub-committee established to handle the procurement;
* Irregular expenditure of R3.6 million;
* The appointment of law firms at a cost of R2.2 million and R435,000 was not executed through the required process, and these contracts have been abrogated by the government;
* Losses of R140 000 arising from the unnecessary appointment of former board members to take part in certain activities of the board;
* Unwarranted and expensive Board meetings leading to year-on-year fee increments per certain board members at 21 percent, 29 percent, 56 percent and 58 percent;
* The unlawful opening of two trust accounts which have since been frozen and a total of R4 million in deposited funds recovered.
Opposition party members on the committee called on the minister to submit the full forensic report, including the names of those involved; to recover all wasted and illegal expenditure; and to criminally charge board members where the necessary evidence exists.
The irregularities at the National Gambling Board originally came to light last year in an inspection by the Auditor General, causing the minister to suspend the entire board in September and institute a forensic investigation.
Minister Davies has outlined proposals to reposition the national gambling board as a regulator in the gambling industry as its function does not include the issuing of licenses, an activity undertaken by provincial gambling boards.