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Former Finance Minister denies allegations in online lottery scam

Published On : 16 Jun 2016   |  Reported By : Courtesy : The Hindu   |  Pic On: Photo credit : The Hindu

Mumbai: Accused by a retired IAS officer of a role in a multi-crore online lottery scam, former Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Minister Jayant Patil, who was the Finance Minister in the Congress-NCP dispensation, on Wednesday rubbished the claims and said he had never indulged in anything that would cause a loss to the people of Maharashtra.

Anand Kulkarni, who retired as the State Additional Chief Secretary, had made allegations against Mr. Patil and senior IAS officer Kavita Gupta, who served as Commissioner, Maharashtra State Lottery, stating that they prevented an investigation report by the State CID into the scam from being made public.

Mr. Kulkarni had alleged that Mr. Patil had invited and selected a tender from Chennai-based M/s Martin Lottery Agencies, and caused a revenue loss to the State exchequer in gross violation of Central government guidelines. He alleged there was a nexus between the finance department headed by Mr. Patil and private lottery operators, and urged the Devendra Fadnavis government to order an investigation into the alleged scam.

Responding to the allegations, Mr. Patil, who is in the US, said Mr. Kulkarni’s claims were “vicious” and had a personal motive as he had exposed the IAS officer’s role in the transfer of senior Public Works department officials.

“We had conducted the tender process for two-digit lottery and two or three companies had responded to it, including Messrs Sugal and Damani. I don’t recall exactly, but we had carried out the tender process three times and only one tender was received. As per the Central Vigilance Commission guidelines, if one tender is received despite carrying out the tender process three times, such a tender can be accepted,” he said in a written statement issued by the NCP.

“Not only that, the tender process was then challenged before the Bombay High Court. We won that case, which indicates that our actions were appropriate,” he said.

Mr Patil said, “We had imposed a lottery tax on every draw after two-digit lottery was started in the State. That was also challenged in the High Court and the Supreme Court, but we won that case too. Due to our efforts, the revenue to the State from lotteries rose from Rs 15 crore to Rs 300 crore, and at the same time, the number of lottery draws reduced from 3,000 to 30.”

He said the power to transfer the lottery commissioner or secretary lie with the incumbent Chief Minister, and he would not like to comment on allegations of why Ms Gupta was retained in the post as Lottery Commissioner for four years.

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