### stuff.co.nz Last updated 05:00 12/08/2012
The money detectives take on casinos
By Steve Kilgallon – Sunday Star Times
A specialist casino investigations team is targeting offshore gamblers pumping millions through casinos on flying visits to New Zealand. The team is part of a major reshuffle at Internal Affairs, which is also establishing a major investigations team tasked with prosecuting sophisticated poker machine frauds, an area where it has faced major recent criticism. DIA staff and Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain have been briefed on the changes in the past few days. The casino team will be told its priority is potential money-laundering.
“There are some examples of people being in New Zealand for a relatively short period of time and putting quite a lot of money through the casino,” said Maarten Quivooy, Internal Affairs’ general manager of regulatory and compliance operations. “We are not saying that’s necessarily anything illegal, but it does raise the question ‘what do we know about these things?’
Internal Affairs’ other new team will be called the regulatory investigations team, which will be given extra support, work under Quivooy’s direct command and be told to chase “serious, wilful, deliberate, harmful” offenders.
The department has been heavily criticised in recent years for failing to prosecute alleged pokie rorts. But Quivooy denied the move was a response to that or an acknowledgement of any failings. “We are not doing this to placate people, we are doing it because it is the right thing to do.”
But Internal Affairs critic Martin Legge, a former gambling inspector and later industry whistleblower, said the changes were “akin to rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic” and a “deliberate and cynical ploy to deflect attention from their spectacular failure in regulating the pokie industry and stopping the rorts”. Legge said Internal Affairs already had a Serious Investigation Unit which had achieved little and he believed the department lacked the “culture, skills and fortitude” to legally outwit rogue trusts.
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr