DIA, OAG, TTCF and Otago Rugby swim below the line

While the Star-Times has, over the past eight years, unveiled a string of questionable arrangements around pokie machines involving a number of gaming trusts, the department [Internal Affairs] has brought only a few major prosecutions.

### stuff.co.nz Last updated 05:00 22/04/2012
The inside man
By Steve Kilgallon – Sunday Star Times
Martin Legge spent two decades as a cop in Levin, catching the crims and then, as police prosecutor, taking them to court. Now, he says, he wonders why. “I’m embarrassed that we used to run around chasing guys for $1000 they ripped off Social Welfare,” he says. “The big money is heading out the back door through softly regulated industries full of people in suits who should know better.” After leaving the police, Legge worked for a gaming machine trust which gave out poker machine grants. What he saw over the next decade shocked, disgusted and disillusioned him. He tried to brief his local MP, the gaming minister Nathan Guy, on the state of the industry. And then Internal Affairs, the industry watchdog, rang him up. Would he, it asked, become a whistleblower? Legge and his wife Liz hand-delivered two bulging ringbinders of documents to the department, packed with incriminating emails (some marked “delete this email forever”) to and from his colleagues at the Trusts Charitable Foundation. He also gave Internal Affairs a 9200-word statement. He was interviewed by an investigator who said he was confident of a result. Then he was told it was a “slamdunk”. In January 2011, the head of investigations told the Legges the case was “90 per cent complete” and he was contemplating seven serious charges against individuals and the trust. Legge waited, and waited. He wrote again to Guy, who rebuffed him, he contacted the auditor-general’s office, and pursued Internal Affairs until March [2012], when the department finally told him it was, pretty much, case closed. By then, Legge says wryly, relations were “strained”.

So why, when he supplied Internal Affairs with material on a string of questionable incidents that could have resulted in multiple prosecutions, has nothing happened?

In March, Dave Sayers [at Internal Affairs] finally wrote, essentially dismissing most of Legge’s key concerns and, in two cases, around Acklin’s behaviour and $5m of grants given to the Otago Rugby Union, said investigations continued, although allegations around those two incidents were now as much as six years old.

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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Business, Economics, Media, ORFU, People, Politics, Sport, Stadiums

17 responses to “DIA, OAG, TTCF and Otago Rugby swim below the line

  1. Anonymous

    This is the stuff of newspapers, often themselves guilty of naming and shaming the “guys for $1000 they ripped off Social Welfare” instead of going after the fat cats ripping off the system for millions.

    Martin and Liz Legge are heros in my book. What they have done is take a stand for what they believe in, risking everything to ensure the authorities and wider community are informed. These are the people who should be recognised in the annual awards because they help to give back what a few have taken away.

    Mr Legge was a former police officer and police prosecutor and these values alone should have been enough for the government departments to follow through. Sadly they have been let down by those same departments in what must be described as looking after special interest groups. Too many social values have been swept under the carpet to create management salaries and grow the wealth of stakeholders.

    I would like to see the Otago Daily Times pick up on the Otago Rugby Union association and continue the investigative work their peers have demonstrated still possible in today’s media.

    Congratulations to the Legge family.

  2. Peter

    Whistle blowers should be more honoured in our society. They expose the corrupt, the incompetent and the gutless wonders who shut enquiries down on flimsy pretexts. Here in Dunedin/Otago there is a veritable harvest of characters who should be exposed because many people know what they are up to now, but not enough know to root them out.
    The enablers who take comfort in cliches like ‘everybody is doing it’ or ‘let’s be positive and move on’ are as guilty as the perpetrators of corrupt deals.
    Martin and Liz Legge are indeed heroes, as Anonymous says, and deserve a reward on earth, not just in heaven for their valiant efforts to get to the truth. The shysters, on the other hand, can burn in hell… if there is one. (I hope so).

  3. Russell Garbutt

    This is only the start of the story that involves TTCF and the ORFU. Mr Legge is to be commended for his stance and Steve Kilgallon for his insightful story. There is no doubt in my mind that TTCF have been right in the middle of deals that simply stink to high heaven. The people that come out of this annointed with the skunk perfume are the DIA for being pathetic – dished up with evidence that shows wrong-doing, their first instinct is to run for cover. God only knows how they sleep easy at night. The second group stinking are the wheelers and dealers that channel huge amounts of money to their mates. Believe me, the rot is close to home.

    • Elizabeth

      Exactly so, Russell. Between the efforts of rival media and (more) whistleblowing from various quarters this will dissect down to the rootbeds before too long – hmmm, the miracles of modern dentistry that make people sing.

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Sun, 29 Apr 2012
      Trust audit may involve ORFU
      By Hamish McNeilly
      The relationship between the financially troubled Otago Rugby Football Union and Auckland bars may be revealed as part of an “in-depth audit”. The Department of Internal Affairs has confirmed it is in the “process of completing an in-depth audit” of The Trusts Charitable Foundation (TTCF). The trust was responsible for more than half of the $5.1 million in pokie grants given to the ORFU between 2005 and 2010.

      Last month, the Otago Daily Times reported the cash-strapped union was involved in the purchase of three Auckland bars, known collectively as the Jokers group, which had poker machines aligned to TTCF. The bars were bought by a third party company with strong links to the ORFU, resulting in a large increase in grants going from TTCF to the union.

      Read more

    • Elizabeth

      Thanks Mike, the activities of the Academy/Centre of Excellence for Amateur Sport (and its reincarnation) has long been figuring in Russell’s concerns – good to see this picked up by senior writer Steve Kilgallon at Sunday Star Times.

      Then you get rubbish like this: “Internal Affairs is conducting fresh inquiries but isn’t reopening its file on the centre…”

      It may be forced to.

      Let’s get these names down:

      “The centre was set up in 2004 by Otago Rugby chairman Ron Palenski, life member John Spicer, board member Anthony Chave and then South Island Academy of Sport chief executive and Otago Rugby board member Kereyn Smith, now the New Zealand Olympic Committee’s secretary-general, to benefit emerging Otago sportsmen.” [SST]

      Doubts about Kereyn Smith surfaced some time ago…

  4. Hype O'Thermia

    We keep noticing what the Dept of Internal Affairs doesn’t do. What does it do – recent (within last 3 years) examples please.
    Is there any pattern to the matters they get involved in and the ones that get the “puts telescope to his blind eye” treatment?

  5. Russell Garbutt

    Doesn’t it seem incredible that the DIA, when presented with an enquiry that on the surface appears to be more than dodgy, chooses to get a local investigator to phone one of the people involved, that investigator issues a warning to that person that things are being looked at for any future applications, chooses not to follow up with the appropriate people within the pokie fund – even when these people have what appears to be solid evidence that moves were made to obscure just who was really asking for grants. Did the DIA investigate with people like SPARC? Not to my knowledge. Seems to me that when anything is just a little bit too hard then the DIA run for the hills. Frankly, I can’t think of any work that the DIA have done in recent times that has really resulted in anything other than warning dodgy operations into becoming more covert.

  6. Anonymous

    It’s inherently suspicious. But you can’t help thinking about the stakeholders who have their name associated with the ORFU. How far would they go to protect their interests? It has been demonstrated recently that being rich or knighted no longer validates your Get Out Of Jail Free card. It would also seem with enough public scrutiny the beta boys will bite the alpha dog.

  7. Peter

    What I’d like to see is whether there is a pattern in the DIA of the same person/people who continue to pour cold water on any intensive investigation of these scandals. Could be illuminating.

  8. Anonymous

    Kereyn Smith was the DCC appointment on the Highlanders Board in 2009 when the decision was taken to split from ORFU. After this decision was taken, the DCC was reportedly unaware that the venue hire agreement signed by CST was no longer binding on the Highlanders.

  9. Hype O'Thermia

    So how many people are employed by DIA, have numbers risen in the last few years, who’s in charge (and why, in view of the department’s apparent gormlessness)? Questions John Key should be asked, don’t you think?

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