Former lottery chief criticised over suspected fraud case

Former lottery chief criticised over suspected fraud case

Thursday, December 29, 2016
UK politician wants full disclosure over the incident

A prominent UK politician has criticised the former head of National Lottery operator Camelot for receiving ‘millions’ in bonus payouts despite the massive fraud that occurred when she was still in charge.

Reportedly Dame Dianne Thompson personally signed off the £2.5m payment to Edward Putman in 2009, an award that the Gambling Commission now believes is ‘more likely than not’ from a fraudulent prize claim. The regulator recently fined Camelot £3m for the incident.

Thompson retired as chief executive of National Lottery operator Camelot in 2014 but last year she received £800,000 in bonus payments and could receive up to £1million a year until 2019.

Tom Watson MP, deputy leader of the main opposition party Labour, has been very vocal on the issue: “I find it astonishing that despite the biggest fraud in Lotto history, senior directors are continuing to receive millions in bonus payouts for their performance.

“Camelot and the Gambling Commission must disclose all details of the alleged fraud, including Dianne Thompson’s role in approving the payout, in order to reassure players this will never happen again.”

Putman made the claim back in 2009 by submitting a damaged ticket. Despite the Commission’s suspicions, it concluded that ‘it could not be certain a fraud had taken place’ and as such Putman has been able to keep the money and avoid fraud charges.

The police investigation into the ticket began last year but only emerged publicly this month with the Gambling Commission’s record fine. Putnam, a convicted rapist, had links with Giles Knibbs, who worked in Camelot’s fraud detection department and has since committed suicide.

The Commission’s investigation concluded that the circumstances of this case were specific and did not uncover systemic failings of the kind that would call into question other prize payouts.

It added that when this matter came to light Camelot immediately took action to ensure a similar issue could not occur and commissioned external assurance of its controls and processes around prize payouts. Key changes to strengthen these processes have now been implemented.

Camelot could always pursue Putnam in the civil courts, which has a lower evidential threshold than the criminal courts and therefore is much more likely to be a successful way to get the £2.5m back  A Camelot source said: “The Gambling Commission said it wasn’t 100% proven but on the balance of probabilities, it was likely to have been a fraudulent claim. If that’s the case and that can be proven, we’d be the victims of a fraud and we would very much like to get that money back.”

Totally Gaming says: It’s a messy situation with politicians looking for their pound of flesh and if the alleged perpetrator of the fraud isn’t going to get any legal comeuppance then the focus switches to those who allowed it to happen. While the civil courts are an option to get back the money,  a messy court case highlighting all Camelot’s failings might not be in the firm’s best interest in terms of consumer confidence.

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Is the current bonus structure to blame for the gambling industry losing trust?

A recent Gambling Commission survey has noted a plummet in consumer confidence in the gambling industry. What do you think is the biggest cause behind this?

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19% (21 votes)
FOBTs and the campaign against them
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