Probe uncovers OPAP’s weakness

An investigation into the alleged use of winning lottery tickets to launder huge amounts of money has found that a lack of organization and security at soccer betting and lottery firm OPAP could have left the system open to abuse, according to the findings seen by Kathimerini. The financial crimes squad began a probe last year after claims that certain people were repeatedly cashing in large numbers of winning tickets from all over Greece. A report compiled by investigators says that there was «a complete lack» of measures in place to store winning tickets safely. They also found that until July 2003, OPAP did not have any system in place which would have ensured that winning tickets were stamped and could not be passed on to third parties. The inspectors also discovered that despite having the necessary software since 2001, OPAP did not keep proper records of winning tickets and the people who claimed them. A former president of OPAP, Anestis Philippidis, who was in charge of the lottery operator for several months in 2004, told investigators that the way the system was run meant that it could easily be taken advantage of by people looking to launder money. The probe focused on the period between 2000 and July last year, when, it is alleged, winning tickets were bought up by several suspects who then claimed the winnings as part of a money-laundering scheme.

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