Luck or scam? Bormla resident ‘wins’ VAT lottery at least 13 times in a year

Tista’ taqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti hawn.

A 64-year-old woman residing in Bormla might be the luckiest person in Malta, or part of a scam, as her VAT fiscal receipts were drawn among the monthly winners in the lottery at least 13 times since January 2021.

The woman’s ‘luck’ was particularly evident in the latest lottery draw held by finance ministry officials last month. She won four times in one draw with 3 million receipts, earning close to €2,500 from public funds in one month alone. The amount of money won depends on the value of the receipts.

Experienced professionals told The Shift that it is “mathematically impossible” for the same participant to have so many wins in a lottery with millions of tickets.

“We do not like to speculate as we have no proof, but it is quite obvious that something is very wrong with this lottery.”

“If the finance minister wanted any concrete evidence to confirm what everyone already knows, he just has to look at the June result in which tickets with identity card number 791558M were extracted four times in the same draw. That is impossible if things were right.”

The same ID card number appears four times in the last draw in June.

Despite glaring concerns, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana has not taken any action. He is also refusing to reply to questions.

Asked by The Shift whether he is at least aware of allegations that the VAT lottery is being tampered with, the minister remained silent.

Launched in the 90s when then-Finance Minister John Dalli introduced the VAT taxation system that the Labour Party in opposition had turned into a political issue, the lottery was intended as an incentive for taxpayers to collect their receipts. It was a measure to fight tax evasion.

The public was encouraged to send their VAT receipts to the then Lotto Department every month to participate in a lottery in which some €60,000 in monthly prizes were up for grabs.

Several receipts were drawn every month during a televised event, with winners getting 100 times the value of their tickets in cash. Tickets were drawn until the €60,000 monthly cap was reached – some 30 ticket winners a month.

The lottery stopped being televised and allegations of rampant abuse during the draw have been making the rounds for years.

In 2018, a report by the National Audit Office found flaws in the monthly draw, including the size of the urn for the draw being too small for the fiscal receipts to be adequately shuffled.