Fourteen members of an Australian lottery syndicate have accused one of the members of keeping the $16.6 million prize that they claim was won with their shared lottery ticket.
Fairfax Media reported that the syndicate, all of whom work for the logistics company Toll Group as couriers and live in Geelong, Victoria, claim they all pitched in $20 a week each to enter the Tattslotto lottery as a group.
The members would give their money to former colleague Gary Baron, 49, who bought the tickets online.
The day after a Powerball draw on Thursday 16 October 2014 created three winners of the jackpot of $50 million (£32,000,000), Mr Baron is said to have taken the day off sick.
The following Monday, he suddenly resigned.
In a bizarre twist of fate, the group reportedly realised something had gone amiss when one of the syndicate members, who was still in their courier job, was hired by Tatts, the lottery company, to deliver celebratory champagne to Mr Baron.
Another member of the syndicate group is reportedly in a romantic relationship with Baron, and has also resigned from her job at Toll Group.
The remaining fourteen members of the syndicate are now bringing a supreme court case against Tatts, demanding that the company releases the name and purchase details of the winning ticket.
There were two other jackpot winners, meaning the group's share was around $16.6 million, or just over $1 million each.
The group believes that their former friend and colleague reneged on a deal to split the winnings if they ever won the lottery.
Tatts released an official statement the morning after the lottery draw, quoting a Victorian man who wished to remain anonymous.
He said he was in "disbelief", saying "I don't need that amount of money - it's too much for me!"
7 News in Australia reported that Mr Baron has bought a new house and a new car since October, and his son has also moved into a new house and has had a swimming pool constructed in the garden.
Many lottery companies recommend that organised syndicates form their agreements in writing - if a case of one member taking all the money were to go to court, it would be difficult to prove that there was an agreement if it was a purely verbal contract.
Having something physical as proof of the agreement is considered much more secure.
Tatts Group has not commented on the matter.Reuse content