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Three people alleged to be involved in a harness racing fixing scandal at Cobram more than two years ago will have to wait until next year to find out the outcome of the case against them. Nathan Jack, Mark Pitt and Lisa Bartley yesterday faced Shepparton Magistrates’ Court for the 13th and final day of a contested hearing. Magistrate John Murphy decided to receive final written submissions from the prosecution and defence out of court. ‘‘I’m satisfied there is a case to answer against all of the accused,’’ he said. Yesterday, Gary Hevey attempted to re-open the prosecution’s case after taking instructions from higher authorities. ‘‘A situation has arisen, I have been asked to re-open the prosecution case,’’ he said. Mr Murphy ruled Victoria Police telephone intercepts admissible this week. ‘‘Those instructing me have taken a different view,’’ Mr Hevey said. ‘‘They say I should re-open the prosecution case for utilising telephone intercepts post-offending. (I) propose for your honour to rule admissible the telephone intercepts and material post-offending.’’ Mr Jack’s lawyer Anthony Lewis said none of the telephone intercepts were ‘‘admissible to incriminating conduct’’. ‘‘It will prolong the proceeding,’’ he argued. Mr Murphy agreed, saying it would lengthen the case, querying the need for the telephone intercepts as the crown already had numerous text messages admitted into evidence. ‘‘(What is) the relevance of this further material? It would extend the case by at least one or two days,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t allow the prosecution to re-open the case.’’ The court case was adjourned about noon yesterday, with a ruling set to be made on the three accused in April. HEARING SUMMARY Nathan Jack, Amanda Turnbull, Mark Pitt and Lisa Bartley pleaded not guilty to charges of engaging in, facilitating and possessing knowledge and/or information about conduct that corrupts a betting outcome. The charges relate to an allegedly fixed race at Cobram on June 22, 2015, after which an investigation was launched into the tactics adopted during the event and information provided to Harness Racing Victoria on the stabling arrangements of a horse. Of the accused, only Mr Jack and Mr Pitt took part in the race. Prosecutors allege Mr Jack, driving Tooram Lad, allowed Airbournemagic, driven by Mr Pitt, to win the race. The court has heard from representatives who have spoken about betting patterns before the race, while the father of Ms Bartley was excused from giving evidence against his daughter. Earlier in the hearing, Harness Racing Victoria evidence was thrown out and not used during the hearing as it was found to be involuntarily obtained. The hearing started on Monday, November 27, in front of Magistrate John Murphy and entered its third week on Monday. This week, charges against previous co-accused Ms Turnbull were dismissed. By Hayden Thomson  

A man accused of lying to a Queensland corruption watchdog investigation into harness racing match-fixing has been charged with perjury as the cheating scandal around the industry continues. The 35-year-old, who was charged with match-fixing in November, is accused of lying to the Crime and Corruption Commission about his participation in match- fixing conduct and the release of inside information. His perjury charges come after Queensland’s championship-leading driver and prominent industry identity Shane Robert Graham and another of the state’s top harness racing drivers, Leonard Cain, were charged on Sunday in relation to the long-running sting. Graham has been charged with two counts of disclosing the knowledge to another about a relevant bet, two counts of facilitating match-fixing conduct for a pecuniary benefit and one count of encouraging another person to make a relevant bet. Shane Graham at the Beenleigh watchhouse. Photo Annette Dew The alleged cheating operation was at the time likened by Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett to organised crime. The allegations of match-fixing centre on two races at Albion Park in July and October. On Monday, a 65-year-old man was charged over allegations he knew of a match-fixing arrangement when he put bets on a race. Those charged under the ongoing investigation into major and organised crime around racing circles remain before the courts. “The Queensland racing crime squad will pursue all information received regarding match-fixing and criminal conduct across all codes of racing,” Detective Inspector Mick Dowie said on Tuesday. Reprinted with the permission of The Courier Mail

A champion harness racing figure accused of serious corruption has been caught telling a worker of plans to “pull up” his horse the day before a race in which his associates allegedly won thousands of dollars. The alleged admission by Shepparton driver Nathan Jack was made in a text to stable­hand Lisa Bartley, hours before the allegedly rigged race in Cobram on June 22, 2015. Mr Jack, Ms Bartley and fellow co-accused racing ­identities Mark Pitt and Amanda Turnbull have each pleaded not guilty to corrupting the race’s betting outcome. It is alleged Mr Jack and fellow driver Mr Pitt manipulated the race by allowing Airborne Magic to win, after Mr Jack “pulled up” his horse, Tooram Lam. Police also alleged the racehorse had been secretly trained at a more elite facility before the race, creating unfair betting odds. Shepparton Magistrates’ Court on Thursday heard Mr Jack texted Ms Bartley a day before the race: “I’m pulling up that horse tomorrow.” A month later, a seemingly distressed Ms Bartley told him they could “never use one of Dad’s horses again”. “When we took Metro (nickname for Airborne Magic), Dad said he didn’t want anything to do with him, and any money he won, I was to have,” said Ms Bartley in a text read in court. “I rang him before to get him to take the money to Echuca, but he has already spent it.” The court heard Ms Bartley declined an offer of money by Mr Jack, who replied: “If it wasn’t one of yours, we wouldn’t have got anything.” Mr Jack later told Ms Bartley police “have nothing and can’t use phone taps” when discussing the probe via text in October. He was also heard telling his girlfriend, Ms Turnbull, how to answer police questions about the race. “If they interview us again, say you don’t remember anything. That’s what I’ll be saying,” he said in an intercepted phone call played in court. The Herald Sun previously reported as much as $30,000 was won by figures connected to the “Cobram Crew”. A probe was launched after a series of bets dramatically lowered Airborne Magic’s odds shortly before the race. During her police interview, Ms Bartley confessed to winning about $2000 on the race. The court heard Ms Turnbull admitted telling her brother, Nathan, to bet on Airborne Magic. He allegedly pocketed $2600. Ms Turnbull denied she backed Airborne Magic and made more than $2200. The accused foursome faces up to 10 years’ jail. The hearing continues next week. By Aneeka Simonis - Herald Sun Reprinted with permission of The Daily Telegraph  

A 69-year-old Brisbane man has been charged over allegations of harness racing match-fixing. Police say the man rigged the outcome of harness races at Albion Park in Brisbane and Globe Derby Park in Adelaide, and fraudulently purchased harness racing horses while disqualified from any involvement in racing. The Redcliffe man was charged on Wednesday with match-fixing, fraud and receiving tainted property, and will appear in the Redcliffe Magistrates Court on January 8. He is the fourth person to be charged with match-fixing offences as part of a joint investigation by the Queensland Racing Crime Squad and the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission. Reprinted with permission of The West Australian

Harness Racing Victoria evidence, set to be a key piece in the prosecution case against four alleged race fixers, was thrown out in court yesterday. Nathan Jack, Amanda Turnbull, Mark Pitt and Lisa Bartley faced Shepparton Magistrates’ Court yesterday for the second day of a hearing, accused of conduct that corrupts a betting outcome. They have pleaded not guilty to the charges. It comes after an investigation into a race at Cobram on June 22, 2015, which Airbournemagic won. Lawyers for the accused objected to evidence Harness Racing Victoria gathered, including the downloading of phone data and certain answers given to racing stewards. ‘‘These pieces of evidence should be excluded,’’ Mr Jack’s defence lawyer Anthony Lewis told the court. ‘‘My focus is on (the) question of unfairness to the accused ... circumstances unfair to the defendant.’’ Mr Lewis said stewards met Mr Jack on his property, asked him questions and he was forced to answer them and was told if he did not — would have committed an offence. ‘‘If they don’t comply, they will be likely charged and their livelihoods at stake,’’ he said. ‘‘It is a compulsory, involuntary process ... they can refuse to answer or provide the phone, but they would only do so knowing disqualification would be inevitable. ‘‘If an admission is involuntary, then it’s inadmissible. Has the evidence been obtained by compulsion? If it has, it ought to be excluded.’’ Mr Lewis added the defendants complied with the stewards’ inquiry for the sole purpose of the stewards’ inquiry. ‘‘(They) never signed an agreement that they’re waiving their rights,’’ he said. ‘‘Never told the answers would be given to police, that’s not in the rules.’’ Prosecutor Gary Hevey disagreed, arguing the four voluntarily signed up to be involved with Harness Racing Victoria, to be bound by the rules, meaning they knew the consequences. ‘‘This was a voluntary association ... people can choose to be members or participate in the harness racing industry,’’ he told the court. ‘‘They chose to belong and in doing so they must submit to the rules of this voluntary association. ‘‘At the interviews it was open for each of the persons being questioned to respond with I don’t want to play any more ... it was open for them to say no.’’ Magistrate John Murphy said while the consequences of refusing to comply with a steward’s request did not include jail time, the consequences certainly included the defendants’ racing licence and as a consequence their professional livelihood. ‘‘One of the basis of our rule of law is that a person has the right to remain silent,’’ he said. ‘‘The accused has a fundamental right to remain silent and they can’t under HRV unless they wish to suffer penalties outlined. ‘‘It would be unfair to an accused to use the evidence ... and a denial of natural justice. ‘‘My ruling is I do not intend to allow the evidence to be given.’’ On Monday, the court heard about the alleged tactics adopted during the race, with prosecution outlining allegations Mr Jack, on Tooram Lad, allegedly allowed Airbournemagic, who Mr Pitt drove, to win the race. Representatives from different betting agencies including Bet365, Ladbrokes and Victoria Police are set to give evidence, with the prosecution saying ‘‘thousands and thousands of dollars’’ were allegedly returned from profits. The hearing continues. The race in question By HAYDEN THOMSON Reprinted with permission of The Shepparton News

Four alleged race fixers are pleading not guilty to all charges relating to a harness racing event at Cobram in 2015. Champion driver Nathan Jack, his partner Amanda Turnbull and Avenel pair Mark Pitt and Lisa Bartley faced Shepparton Magistrates’ Court yesterday. The four accused have been charged with conduct that corrupts a betting outcome among other offences, after an investigation into the tactics adopted during a race on June 22, 2015 — which Airbournemagic won. Separate lawyers represented each defendant, as prosecutor Gary Hevey read out a case summary to a packed courtroom. ‘‘This case alleges corruption,’’ he told the court. ‘‘Using corrupt information for betting purposes ... it relates to the stabling, training and racing of a horse known as Airbournemagic and its winning of race four in Cobram. ‘‘In particular, allegations relate to information in possession of defendants ... the likely performance of Airbournemagic and failing to provide that information to Harness Racing Victoria.’’ Mr Hevey briefly outlined details of the charges to Magistrate John Murphy and outlined the role Harness Racing Victoria played in the sport. Court documents The News obtained told how Airbournemagic was allegedly at the stables of Ms Turnbull, a highly-regarded trainer, and Mr Jack, an experienced driver. But the details given to Harness Racing Victoria said Airbournemagic was at the stables of another person in Congupna. Due to the incorrect information allegedly given to Harness Racing Victoria, this increased the odds betting agencies set. ‘‘There are numerous messages which have been seized and downloaded in relation to the case,’’ Mr Hevey told the court. Prosecution is set to bring forward numerous witnesses from different betting agencies to give evidence, including representatives from Bet365, Ladbrokes and a Victoria Police financial analyst. The court heard how based on Airbournemagic being stabled at the Congupna address, Bet365 opened the betting ahead of the June 22, 2015 race at $35. Airbournemagic eventually jumped at just $4.80 with ‘‘thousands and thousands of dollars’’ returned from profits, Mr Hevey will allege. When Mr Jack took to the track with his horse Tooram Lad, he allegedly allowed Airbournemagic, which was close behind him for much of the race, to win. During the race, it is alleged Mr Jack was ‘‘overtly and continually looking behind his shoulder’’ at Airbournemagic, which Mr Pitt drove, for much of the race. Footage is set to be tendered to the court this week, with the trial estimated to run for more than a week. ‘‘The third section of the race was run at 27 seconds — the fastest time recorded in the last 10 years ... Mr Jack ran Tooram Lad ragged so he could not win the race,’’ Mr Hevey told the court. ‘‘When you combine that (footage) with the text messages in relation to betting ahead of the race and on the day and thereafter ... it is inescapable.’’ Ms Turnbull allegedly got a family member to place a bet on the race, which paid off with winnings of $2236.23. Ms Bartley, who allegedly helped with the training of Airbournemagic along with Mr Jack, also allegedly won $2274.24 on a winning bet on the race. Lawyers for the accused are set to object to a number of pieces of evidence, including the downloading of phone data seized, certain answers given to racing stewards and subsequent material Victoria Police obtained during a search warrant. ‘‘There is a question of unfairness of the accused,’’ Mr Jack’s defence lawyer Anthony Lewis told the court. ‘‘(We have) similar issues ... challenge the interview with stewards ... use of phone material downloaded and a challenge to the seizing of the mobile phone,’’ Ms Bartley’s defence lawyer Rohan Laurence said. Many of the charges face maximum sentences of 10 years in prison. The hearing continues today. The race in question By HAYDEN THOMSON Reprinted with permission of The Shepparton News  

With respect to the actions taken by Victoria Police on 14 November, 2017 where a 60-year-old male from the Bendigo area was interviewed and released without charge, Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) provides the following update. HRV advises in respect of this matter, they have spoken to the licensed participant allegedly involved and advised them to provide submissions addressing why action should not be taken under the Australian Harness Racing Rules (AHRR). Any such submissions are to be provided by 10.00 am on Friday 24 November 2017 and will be given due consideration thereafter prior to any decision being made. With respect to the Victoria Police investigation, HRV is unable to make any comment. Harness Racing Victoria 

A Victorian harness-racing trainer has been arrested by police as part of a criminal investigation. The Herald Sun has been told the inquiry is looking into allegations of race fixing from several years ago. Detectives from the Victoria Police sporting integrity intelligence unit executed two warrants in central Victoria on Tuesday. The searches were made on properties in the Bendigo area. A Victoria Police spokesman said a 60-year-old man was arrested and interviewed and has been released pending summons. That man has been a harness-racing trainer for decades. “The investigation remains ongoing,” the police spokesman said. A harness-racing figure connected to the properties declined to comment when contacted by the Herald Sun. “I’ve got no comment at all,” he said. Victoria Police set up the sporting integrity intelligence unit in 2013 amid heightened corruption concerns. It has previously run significant investigations into fixing in harness-racing. By Leo Schlink and Mark Buttler, Herald Sun Reprinted with permission of The Herald Sun  

The investigative arm of the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission has struck again. This time it is high-profile harness racing media personality Marshall Dobson, who has been arrested and bailed to face court at a date to be set. The charges are "money laundering” through a fictitious betting account and the sums are believed to run into the millions. Dobson was at one time a popular choice as on-track Master of Ceremonies at major harness carnivals. With the election just a few weeks away, harness punters and harness participants want to hear that a commitment to iron tight control, and a punter friendly race format, will be the aim of all major parties. Join Marburg excitement THE countdown is on again as the Marburg Pacing Association heads prepares to host the postponed "Oktoberfest/ Harriott Memorial” race meeting. It has been rescheduled for Sunday November 12, with a projected nine race program. That includes the "Summerfest/Harriott Memorial”. It will feature two bookies plus "funny money”, two $100 lucky gate draws, $1250 "pick the last six winners” comp, monster raffle, craft beers from three boutique breweries with German sausage and sauerkraut to complement the lager and ale. The meeting will also have a Tug-O-War, a harnessing demonstration, the introduction of the "Costin Plastic” horse shoe, craft stalls, jumping castle and other attractions for the kids. Gates open at 11am. Meanwhile, the Marburg Pacing Association AGM is this morning after trials at 9.30am. Stable's high hopes THE Turpin/McMullen stable have exciting five-year-old Mattgregor starting at TABCORP Park, Menangle, tonight. Unbeaten in both starts this campaign, Mattgregor will head to Melton the following week for the Group 2 $75,000 4 & 5yo Championship. "He'll start this week at Menangle and that should top him off for the feature the following week,'' it was reported on the Australian Harness Racing website. "He's in great order and enjoys the surroundings at Menangle. "He's come through his trial last week in good shape and we're happy with the way he is right now.” Mattgregor won an Albion Park 1660m trial on October 24 in 1:54.9 while finishing off in 26.9 seconds. The Rob Roy Mattgregor gelding has won 12 from 24 to date. While the above is cause for joy, it is balanced by the news that stable star, Watch Pulp Fiction, sustained a tendon injury at his most recent start. Watch Pulp Fiction will be on the receiving end of sophisticated vet treatment for some time. It is not always "beer and skittles” in the world of harness racing, quite often the downs outweigh the ups. Extreme heat policy THE Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) has released advice on caring for racing animals in extreme heat. "With summer almost upon us, it's a good time to be able to provide this advice through the Commission's extreme heat policy which sets out the key principles for caring for racing animals in hot weather,” Commissioner Ross Barnett said. "The policy defines the measures to be taken in hot weather when temperatures rise above 35°C including the allocation of extra staff and other resources to race meetings to ensure the health, safety and well-being of all racing animals.” The advice includes two fact sheets to assist with preventing and treating heat stress in horses and greyhounds as the two species respond to heat in different ways. The QRIC's extreme heat policy and associated fact sheets can be viewed at www.qric.qld.gov.au/veterinary-services-animal-welfare/heat-policy-and-factsheets/ Handy tips SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight. R1: Box trifecta 1-5-6-8: War Dan Appollo (T. Moffat)-Feel The Courage (P. McMullen)-Polished Rocks (M Neilson)-Written In Red (P Diebert). R2: Quinella 2-4: Comply Or Die (N McMullen) and Shareapassion (P. McMullen). R3: Quinella 1-8: Lancelot Bromac (H. Barnes) and Withalotofluck (I. Ross). R4: Village Witch (N. McMullen) and Always My Mate (P. McMullen). R5: Quinella 2-5: Philanderer (M. Neilson) and Chal Fire (K. Dawson). R6: Quinella 1-7: Living Grand (H. Barnes) and Glenferrie Boss (C. Petroff). R7: Box trifecta 1-3-4-8: Projectile (K. Smith)-Only In Rome (T. Dawson)-Jakes Joy (G Dixon)-Domestic Art (H. Barnes). R8: Quinella 3-4: Win Or Die (N. Dawson) and Weedons Express (N. McMullen). R9: E/w 7: Ultimate Art (A. Sanderson). R10: Quinella 4-10: Heavens Hint (N. Dawson) and Firebby (C. Cini). Honour board Sisters in-law on the leader board this week with Chantal Turpin top trainer, leading in four winners, and Narissa McMullen driving for the same result in the sulky. Most pleasing is the continued success of ex-Sandgroper Michael Tenardi, with Top Flight Cruize at Redcliffe. Albion Park, October 27: Call Me Yours (Steven Doherty for Tess Neaves); Fon Ideal (Adam Richardson) for Donny Smith); Comply Or Die (Narissa McMullen for Ron Sallis). Albion Park, October 28: Flaming Hero (Matt Elkins for Greg Elkins); Bettabe Perfect (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Always My Mate (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Wattlebank Flyer (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Village Witch (Narissa McMullen for Steve Cini); Royal Counsel (Darrell Graham). Albion Park, October 31: Only In Rome (Isobel Ross for Trent Dawson); Timmo Time (Adam Sanderson for Shawn Grimsey). Redcliffe, November 1: Real Knuckey (Hayden Barnes for Peter Jones); Royal Counsel (Adam Sanderson for Darrell Graham); Heez Perfect (Gary Litzow); Summer Money (Adam Richardson for Tayla Gillespie); Summer Money (Adam Richardson for Tayla Gillespie); Cocoa Cheval (Narissa McMullen for Ron Sallis); Top Flight Cruize (Michael Tenardi); Luv You Grazaella (Nathan Dawson for Merv Hieronymus). Redcliffe, November 2: The Restauranteur (Adam Richardson for Lee Storie); Lynchman (Narissa McMullen for John McMullen); Zenmach (Paul Matis); Master Montana (Brittany Graham for Darrell Graham); The Lunchbox Bully (Hayden Barnes for Chantal Turpin); Magnussen (Lachie Manzelmann for Adam Richardson). by TROT TACTICS with Denis Smith Reprinted with permission of The Queensland Times

A harness racing identity will face court accused of running millions of dollars through a fake betting account. The 61-year-old, from The Gap in Brisbane’s west, will face court next month after being charged under anti-money-laundering and terrorism-financing laws. Detectives from the Racing Crime Squad, working with the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission, charged the man after a long-running investigation into his betting activities. Commissioner Ross Barnett said the man was accused of using a false name to place bets on harness races in Queensland and Western Australia via an online account. “The money that has gone through the account over a 10-year period is well into the millions,” he said. “In one 16-month period — from September 2015 to December 2016 — the figure was $1.77 million.” Police described the man as a “harness racing participant”. The man was today granted bail and will appear in court on November 13. By Kate Kyriacou Reprinted with permission of The Courier-Mail

Four harness racing drivers accused of race-fixing will face a hearing next month. Nathan Jack, Mark Pitt, Amanda Turnbull and Lisa Bartley all fronted Shepparaton Magistrates Court on Thursday. Their individuals cases were adjourned for hearing on November 27. It comes over a year since the quartet were arrested at Melton and charged with engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome. Reprinted with permission of The Daily Advertiser

Queensland harness racing fixer Barton Cockburn has been warned off for life from all race tracks in the state. In a Brisbane court on Wednesday, 28-year-old Cockburn was fined $5000 after pleading guilty to three charges of match fixing at the Albion Park Paceway in November 2016. The driver-trainer was one of three people charged with match fixing offences in April this year by detectives from the Queensland Racing Crime Squad after an investigation of match fixing allegations in the harness racing industry. On Friday, Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett announced he had cancelled Cockburn's license and advised him he had been warned off for life from all race tracks in Queensland. "Mr Cockburn's warning off applies to all three codes of racing – thoroughbreds, harness and greyhounds," Barnett said. "The prosecution of Mr Cockburn should sound a clear warning to anyone wanting to undermine the integrity of racing in Queensland that there will be serious consequences." QRIC warns about severe bans for fixing Participants in Queensland's three racing codes have been put on notice they face severe bans if they engage in match-fixing. Queensland Racing Integrity Commission boss Ross Barnett said harness driver Barton Cockburn, who pleaded guilty to match-fixing charges in the Magistrates Court last week, had been warned off for life. The ban means Cockburn can't attend any racetrack in the world. "Cockburn's warning off applies to all three codes of racing, thoroughbreds, harness and greyhounds," Barnett said. "The prosecution of Cockburn should sound a clear warning to anyone wanting to undermine the integrity of racing in Queensland that there will be serious consequences." Cockburn was one of three people charged with match-fixing offences in April this year after the Racing Crime Squad investigated match fixing allegations in the harness racing industry. He was fined $5000 with no conviction recorded. Barnett said the addition of two more full-time investigators to the RCS would bolster the commission's commitment to integrity.

Two out of three of the defendants found guilty in June this year of ‘Obtaining by deception’ in a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) prosecution of a multi-million dollar gaming machine fraud have been sentenced in the Wellington High Court today. Michael O’Brien, guilty of five charges, received a sentence of imprisonment for four years, six months. Kevin Coffey, guilty of one charge, was sentenced to home detention for 12 months. Paul Max, guilty of three charges, will be sentenced in the Wellington High Court on 27 July. The case involved the manipulation of gambling licenses and grants and the offending was detected during Operation Chestnut, a joint investigation involving the Department of Internal Affairs, the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand and the SFO. It was a significant case in New Zealand for the ‘Class 4’ gambling sector, which is made up of high-turnover gambling including gaming machines in pubs and clubs. SFO Director, Julie Read said, “The sentences imposed today reflect the very serious nature of the misconduct in this case. The proceeds from pokie machines, intended to provide community funding for sport, health, education and other activities, were directed to entities nominated by Michael O’Brien so that he could obtain a personal benefit amounting to $6.86 million.” ENDS For further media information Andrea Linton Serious Fraud Office 027 705 4550 Note to editors CRIMES ACT OFFENCES Section 240 Obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception (1) Every one is guilty of obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception who, by any deception and without claim of right,— (a) obtains ownership or possession of, or control over, any property, or any privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration, directly or indirectly; or (b) in incurring any debt or liability, obtains credit; or (c) induces or causes any other person to deliver over, execute, make, accept, endorse, destroy, or alter any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage; or (d) causes loss to any other person.  (1A) Every person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years who, without reasonable excuse, sells, transfers, or otherwise makes available any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage knowing that, by deception and without claim of right, the document or thing was, or was caused to be, delivered, executed, made, accepted, endorsed, or altered. (2) In this section, deception means— (a) a false representation, whether oral, documentary, or by conduct, where the person making the representation intends to deceive any other person and—   (i) knows that it is false in a material particular; or   (ii) is reckless as to whether it is false in a material particular; or (b) an omission to disclose a material particular, with intent to deceive any person, in circumstances where there is a duty to disclose it; or (c) a fraudulent device, trick, or stratagem used with intent to deceive any person.  ABOUT THE SFO The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act. The SFO is the lead law enforcement agency for investigating and prosecuting serious or complex financial crime, including bribery and corruption. The presence of an agency dedicated to white collar crime is integral to New Zealand’s reputation for transparency, integrity, fair-mindedness and low levels of corruption. This work contributes to a productive and prosperous New Zealand and the SFO’s collaborative efforts with international partners also reduce the serious harm that corrupt business practices do to the global economy. The SFO has three operational teams; the Evaluation and Intelligence team along with two investigative teams. The SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers. Part 1 of the SFO Act provides that it may act where the Director “has reason to suspect that an investigation into the affairs of any person may disclose serious or complex fraud.”  Part 2 of the SFO Act provides the SFO with more extensive powers where: “…the Director has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence involving serious or complex fraud may have been committed…”  In considering whether a matter involves serious or complex fraud, the Director may, among other things, have regard to: the suspected nature and consequences of the fraud and/or; the suspected scale of the fraud and/or; the legal, factual and evidential complexity of the matter and/or; any relevant public interest considerations. The SFO’s Annual Report 2016 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Statement of Intent 2014-2018 sets out the SFO’s strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at www.sfo.govt.nz The SFO Twitter feed is @FraudSeriousNZ

Verdicts were handed down in the trial of three people, including harness racing trainer Mike O'Brien,  charged with offences in relation to a multi-million dollar gaming machine fraud in the Wellington High Court today. The defendants; Michael Joseph O’Brien (58) of Blenheim, Paul Anthony Max (60) of Nelson, and Kevin Coffey (57) of Hastings, faced Crimes Act charges of ‘Obtaining by deception’. Michael O’Brien has been found guilty of five charges, Paul Max has been found guilty of three charges and the remaining defendant has been found guilty of one charge and not guilty of one other. The manipulation of gambling licenses and grants was detected during Operation Chestnut, a joint investigation involving the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand (OFCANZ), and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). The investigation was a significant case in New Zealand for the ‘Class 4’ gambling sector, which is made up of high-turnover gambling including gaming machines in pubs and clubs. SFO Director, Julie Read said, “Funding from pokie machines provides millions of dollars of community funding for sport, health, education and other activities every year. Operation Chestnut has been effective in enabling the DIA to pinpoint areas where compliance can be lifted in the sector so that pokie machine benefits can continue without the risk of manipulation or potential criminal activity.” The defendants were remanded in custody by Justice Dobson to next appear for sentencing on 13 July. Andrea Linton Serious Fraud Office 027 705 4550 BACKGROUND TO INVESTIGATION A Pokies 101 guide is available at this link: http://www.dia.govt.nz/Gambling it describes how the Class 4 gambling sector in New Zealand operates. CRIMES ACT OFFENCES Section 240 Obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception (1) Every one is guilty of obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception who, by any deception and without claim of right,- (a) obtains ownership or possession of, or control over, any property, or any privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration, directly or indirectly; or (b) in incurring any debt or liability, obtains credit; or (c) induces or causes any other person to deliver over, execute, make, accept, endorse, destroy, or alter any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage; or (d) causes loss to any other person. (1A) Every person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years who, without reasonable excuse, sells, transfers, or otherwise makes available any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage knowing that, by deception and without claim of right, the document or thing was, or was caused to be, delivered, executed, made, accepted, endorsed, or altered. (2) In this section, deception means- (a) a false representation, whether oral, documentary, or by conduct, where the person making the representation intends to deceive any other person and- (i) knows that it is false in a material particular; or (ii) is reckless as to whether it is false in a material particular; or (b) an omission to disclose a material particular, with intent to deceive any person, in circumstances where there is a duty to disclose it; or (c) a fraudulent device, trick, or stratagem used with intent to deceive any person. ABOUT THE SFO The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act. The SFO is the lead law enforcement agency for investigating and prosecuting serious or complex financial crime, including bribery and corruption. The presence of an agency dedicated to white collar crime is integral to New Zealand’s reputation for transparency, integrity, fair-mindedness and low levels of corruption. This work contributes to a productive and prosperous New Zealand and the SFO’s collaborative efforts with international partners also reduce the serious harm that corrupt business practices do to the global economy. The SFO has three operational teams; the Evaluation and Intelligence team along with two investigative teams. The SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers. Part 1 of the SFO Act provides that it may act where the Director “has reason to suspect that an investigation into the affairs of any person may disclose serious or complex fraud.”  Part 2 of the SFO Act provides the SFO with more extensive powers where: “…the Director has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence involving serious or complex fraud may have been committed…”  In considering whether a matter involves serious or complex fraud, the Director may, among other things, have regard to: the suspected nature and consequences of the fraud and/or; the suspected scale of the fraud and/or; the legal, factual and evidential complexity of the matter and/or; any relevant public interest considerations. The SFO’s Annual Report 2016 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Statement of Intent 2014-2018 sets out the SFO’s strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at www.sfo.govt.nz The SFO Twitter feed is @FraudSeriousNZ

A man's anger over alleged race fixing at a Queensland harness racing track led to assaults on three drivers, a court has heard. Grant James Gavin, 32, was fined $2000 at Southport Magistrates Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to three counts of assaulting harness racing drivers at Albion Park Raceway in Brisbane last year. The court heard Gavin was angered after incidents in races involving horses trained by his father, approaching rival drivers before striking them and verbally threatening them. The first assault occurred on April 26, 2016, when Gavin approached a driver who had clashed with his father's horse during a race. "If you ever do it again it will be a bad idea," Gavin told the man before shoving him. On August 12, 2016, Gavin punched a driver and knocked his helmet off, and then on October 28, 2016, the father-of-three punched another driver in the mouth and accused him of lying about an arranged race result. The court heard two of three drivers assaulted by Gavin have since been charged with fixing races. Gavin was charged in February after an investigation by the Queensland Racing Crime Squad. Read more here.    

A Marlborough harness racing identity says the Crown has failed to prove basic elements of charges alleging he was behind a scheme to deceive gambling licensing authorities. In a nearly two-month trial, it was alleged Department of Internal Affairs, which issues licences for pokie gaming machines and the trusts that distribute the profits, was kept in the dark about one man's involvement in a trust intended to channel gambling profits towards racing clubs. Michael (Mike) Joseph O'Brien​, 57, of Blenheim, was in the department's bad books. At the High Court in Wellington on Thursday, O'Brien's lawyer, Bruce Squire, QC, said the department and its inspectors held a "deeply entrenched conviction" that O'Brien was an unsuitable person to be involved in that type of gambling. READ MORE: * Deception alleged in control over pokie machine gambling and profits * Trial ends for elderly pokie gaming fraud defendant Pat O'Brien ​* Defence evidence given in pokie machine profit fraud trial * Long-running pokie gambling fraud trial enters final stages But O'Brien had never been convicted of a Gambling Act offence, and had never been given an opportunity to respond to the claimed unsuitability. The Crown has alleged O'Brien and two other men hid his involvement with setting up and running a trust, Bluegrass, to operate pokie machines and distribute the profits, and with three businesses where machines were sited. But Squire said another defendant had told the department of O'Brien's involvement, and they issued licences for the trust anyway. The court has heard that O'Brien was earning more than $1 million a year lobbying on behalf of racing clubs wanting grants from gaming money. He would invoice the clubs for his services at the start of the season and the Crown alleges O'Brien would then influence or control the grants process so that the clubs received about three times the amount they paid him. One of the men standing trial with O'Brien said there was evidence that the department knew of, and approved, the lobbying arrangement. There were no charges relating to the lobbying or the money received.  In his final address to Justice Robert Dobson, the man, who is representing himself, said he told the department what he knew of O'Brien's involvement helping in administration and advice for O'Brien's father, who was setting up Bluegrass. He said that alongside that information, he told the department O'Brien was not "directly" involved in the trust, which was correct in the context the statement was made. All three defendants pleaded not guilty. O'Brien faces five charges, two relating to the trust and three relating to the gaming machine venues.  Paul Anthony Max, 60, of Nelson, was charged in relation to the three gaming venues, and the 56-year-old man whose name was suppressed faced the two charges relating to the trust. The charges dated from between 2009 and 2013. When the trial began, 15 charges were laid but 10 were dropped. The trial had also begun with O'Brien's father, former New Zealand Harness Racing chairman Patrick O'Brien, 83, of Blenheim, facing charges. The charges against him were stopped due to ill-health.  The Crown alleged that Mike O'Brien in effect directed the grants made to racing clubs, but Squire said the evidence did not support that. One list suggested less than one-quarter of the amounts on O'Brien's "wishlist" were approved.  O'Brien could not have controlled or influenced the grants process without the complicity of the committee that approved grants, and no committee member said their independence was compromised, Squire said. Squire said there was no evidence to support the Crown allegation that O'Brien had influenced grants other trusts made. Reprinted with permission of Stuff  

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