● The Trusts Charitable Foundation (TTCF Inc) ● The Trusts Community Foundation Ltd (TTCF Ltd) ● Otago Rugby Football Union (ORFU) ● Professional Rugby ● Centre of Excellence for Amateur Sport ● Harness Racing ● Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) ● Gambling Commission ● Pokies ● Rorts ● Organised Crime ● Serious Fraud ● Political Interference
*Weblink not available at stuff.co.nz
The following text in the print edition of today’s Sunday Star-Times (page A6) has been scanned, in the public interest. This post will be updated when a link appears.
### Sunday Star-Times Sun, 11 Nov 2012
Pokie man stopped from rort inquiries
By Steve Kilgallon
A senior Internal Affairs investigator says he was prevented from probing pokie rorts by his own department because it did not have the confidence to prosecute major crimes.
Dave Bermingham, an investigator and analyst who left the department in August, said Internal Affairs was incompetent and should be stripped of its role investigating gaming machine fraud.
Bermingham’s claims will be discussed in Parliament, with the Greens’ Internal Affairs spokeswoman Denise Roche prepared to table questions about the department’s behaviour. “They had no appetite for the [gaming] industry and they don’t understand it,” said Bermingham, a former fraud squad policeman.
“There are very clever people committing frauds… and a government agency which takes little or no action and wants to treat it as regulation and compliance. When investigators identified serious breaches of the Gaming Act, they were unsupported and stifled and their investigations [were] watered down, or just, over time, vanished.”
Bermingham said pokie scams revealed in the Star-Times over the past five years were just the “tip of the iceberg: some pokie trusts have been allowed to get away with blatant theft and dishonesty”.
For two years from 2008, Bermingham compiled several investigation reports into a controversial pokie trust, The Trusts Charitable Foundation (TTCF), and recommended serious sanctions, and even criminal action, be taken.
The case was later taken off him, and either no action taken or minor penalties issued.
When the case was reopened this year following Star-Times stories, Bermingham wasn’t asked for help. Instead, he says: “A senior manager here made a statement to me that he had been told to make the thing go away.
“I suspected it was a semi-flippant comment, but as it transpires, that’s what they have done. I was the person who knew the most information about the whole thing, but they deliberately never talked to me about it.”
Former TTCF contractor Martin Legge, who first brought the TTCF story to light, said Bermingham’s revelations were “further proof that the investigation into The Trusts Community Foundation was a cover-up. Internal Affairs are being dictated to by pokie trusts and protecting their interests above those of the community.”
After he filed his “damning” reports into TTCF, Bermingham said he was flown almost daily to Wellington to discuss them. Then suddenly he was shut out. “I accept you can’t always lay charges, but there are other avenues that can be taken. But the appetite was not there to act.”
Bermingham said he became increasingly frustrated and accepted redundancy in a reshuffle.
“The department has some very clever people who know how to follow the money, and they get stopped and everyone becomes deflated and stops looking.”
He said constant lobbying by politicians in specific cases had also made DIA gun-shy. Questions asked of the department by Revenue Minister Peter Dunne around the TTCF case had helped kill it, he said. “The mere questioning seemed to cause the department to go gun-shy and shut things down. Management fear for their careers; they would rather take no action, make no decision so they are not criticised.”
Just before leaving Internal Affairs, Bermingham conducted a detailed study of where TTCF gave grants, and discovered a huge flow of money from North Island poker machines into South Island racing clubs, but was told not to progress to the next stage.
Internal Affairs boss Maarten Quivooy denied managers had been told to shut down the TTCF inquiry.
He said decisions not to prosecute were rigorously tested with Crown Law while the TTCF inquiry had been examined by the auditor-general.
But he said he understood Bermingham’s frustrations.
“If you look from the perspective of a frontline inspector, that can sometimes be their experience,” Quivooy said. “They do their investigation work to the best of their ability and, from their perspective, it can look like it has gone into a black hole. But it has had active and thorough scrutiny and consideration by senior management.
“We can do better how we communicate that to staff and how we provide feedback.”
Graeme Ramsey, chief executive of the Problem Gambling Foundation, said despite a long history of rorts, there had yet to be a prosecution of a gaming trust trustee.
Who is Maarten Quivooy? See comment.
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24.10.12 Bad press for ORFU -NZ Herald
3.10.12 DScene: Russell Garbutt seeks DIA file to Crown Law #PokieRorts
1.10.12 Apology requested from ORFU [email]
15.9.12 Martin Legge responds to NZ Herald news
27.8.12 DIA’s political cover-up of TTCF and ORFU rorts
22.8.12 Martin Legge releases emails to Dunedin community #ORFU
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12.8.12 DIA reshuffle: new investigation teams, money laundering, criticism
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25.7.12 Martin Legge backgrounds TTCF (pokie trust) and Portage and Waitakere Licensing Trusts #DIA
24.7.12 Mention in NZ Herald dispatches: TTCF and friends ORFU
15.7.12 Martin Legge responds to media stories on Murray Acklin, TTCF and DIA
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5.6.12 The Gambling (Gambling Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill
4.6.12 Questions: ORFU and the Centre of Excellence for Amateur Sport
26.5.12 DIA media release
23.5.12 NZRU-appointed change manager talks
29.4.12 Department of Internal Affairs, the gambling authority
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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr