Pokie money inquiry sparks chatter
JOHN EDENS IN QUEENSTOWN
Investigators from the Serious Fraud Office and Department of Internal Affairs are visiting racing clubs and other organisations in the south as part of a preliminary nationwide inquiry.
Internal Affairs will not comment on the fledgling multi-agency investigation in relation to alleged pokie machine fraud.
GallopSouth general manager Malcolm Little said he had received phone calls and emails since the investigation was first reported in The Southland Times and other media.
On Tuesday Mr Little said the organisation was no longer involved with gaming machine grants and GallopSouth was not in any trouble.
He said yesterday that racing club presidents had contacted him asking about the investigators' visit or informing him the clubs had been approached for information. He believed that the interviews with the SFO and DIA were voluntary.
"I have had a few calls from club presidents just letting me know they have been approached by the DIA and SFO and they are being interviewed as well.
"Some of that is the rest of this week and some next week . . . I got the impression it would take a while. Everybody is interested, it's quite the topic of conversation."
He was not prepared to name the presidents or clubs which contacted GallopSouth but said investigators appeared to be approaching most of the racing clubs and organisations in the south.
On Tuesday, Southland Racing Club president Sean Bellew said he was confident the club was beyond reproach.
The only gaming machine grants the club had received were through the Invercargill Licensing Trust, and they had stood up to public scrutiny for many years, he said.
Otago Racing Club chief executive Andre Klein said yesterday the club had not been contacted by any investigators.
He said he did not believe the investigation was a threat to racing clubs in the south.
The Otago club stages major meetings including Mosgiel, Melbourne Cup events and the Cromwell races, scheduled for this Sunday.
Neither the Serious Fraud Office nor Department of Internal Affairs will comment on the visit or answer specific questions about the investigation.
Internal Affairs confirmed search warrants were served as part of a continuing investigation into the alleged manipulation of gaming machine grants but no information on the number or whereabouts of the warrants was available.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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