Former Maori All Black guilty of $300k theft

AMY MAAS
Last updated 18:01 25/01/2013

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A former Maori All Black has been found guilty of stealing more than $300,000 from pokie machine grants intended for South Auckland trusts.

Lindsay Raki appeared at the Auckland District Courts on Tuesday where he was convicted of 11 counts of theft.

Raki - who denies responsibility - was charged in 2011 after an investigation by the Department of Internal Affairs found discrepancies in the distribution of pokie machine grants intended for the Manurewa High School Rugby Academy and the Counties Manukau Youth Development Inc.

He acted as the financial controller for the two organisations and between 2006 and 2008 he applied to a number of gambling societies for grants to fund youth rugby.

Raki then paid the money into his personal bank accounts.

In her judgement, Judge Ema Aitken labelled the qualified accountant "a dishonest witness" who wove stories and created documents to "back up his story".

Judge Aitken also rejected Raki's evidence, calling it "untrue", and labelled his witnesses "unreliable".

Debbie Despard, the Department of Internal Affairs' gambling compliance director, said the department "works to ensure the integrity of gambling in New Zealand".

"The money involved in this case should have been distributed to the community, in particular to young people playing the national game of rugby," she said.

"Every dollar that is misappropriated from pokie machine grants is a dollar that is not available to the community."

Raki will be sentenced in April.

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