A populist politician in Ukraine is coming under fire after public disclosures revealed he’d won the lottery three times in the past year.
On Tuesday, Radical Party leader Oleh Lyashko revised his income declaration on the website of the nation’s anti-corruption watchdog, in keeping with new rules designed to keep lawmakers and public sector employees from dipping their grubby fingers too deep into the nation’s collective piggybank.
Lyashko’s revised declaration revealed that he’d collected three Ukrainian National Lottery (UNL) payouts over the past year, worth Hr 283,560 (US $10,600), H4 153,485 and Hr 134k, for total lottery winnings of over Hr 571k ($21,300).
Following the revelation, former parliamentary deputy Evgen Zhovtya went on 112 TV to call for an investigation into “whether this lottery is a fraudulent organization with which only politicians of Lyashko’s rank can win.” Zhovtya claimed the likelihood of Lyashko legitimately winning three prizes was “the stuff of fantasy.”
On Wednesday, Ukraine’s National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption announced that it plans to look into Lyashko’s income declaration and, “in the event violations are detected … will take measures in accordance with the current legislation.”
Lyashko, who was a journalist before being elected to Ukraine’s parliament in 2006, raised eyebrows when his original income declaration revealed that he owned property in Kiev’s priciest real estate market and had over $1m cash on hand.
Last year, Lyashko was involved in a fistfight in parliament after he accused a fellow MP of being a tool of Russian President Vladimir Putin, which prompted the accused MP to stand up and belt Lyashko in the jaw.
Lotteries are currently Ukraine’s only legal form of gambling following a regulatory revamp in 2009. The country has been promising to implement new gambling rules that would allow for brick-and-mortar casinos and online gambling sites but little legislative progress has been made, leading even local oligarchs complaining that the government was leaving money on the table.
November 17 will see the kickoff of the Ukrainian Gaming Summit 2017, at which industry stakeholders and government representatives will attempt to thrash out the ways that Ukraine should craft its new gambling regulatory environment.