Martin Legge: Operation Chestnut [DIA’s PR exercise]

Received from Martin Legge.
Tuesday, 31 December 2013 10:54 p.m.

The relaunch of “Operation Chestnut” is nothing more than an expensive distraction for the masses – making them believe that the DIA and its Minister, Chris Tremain, are doing a great job. No small coincidence the operation was announced (Jan 2013) contemporaneous with the Government announcement that they did not intend changing the current pokie model despite the systemic corruption and the ongoing rorts. If you don’t agree with me then consider this:

1. “Operation Chestnut” was started way back in 2008 and the investigator submitted his report to Senior Management in 2008-09. The same management includes Debbie Despard, who now fronts the relaunch of Operation Chestnut but note she failed to tell media that the operation started in 2008 and she has been sitting on the report for five years watching as tens of millions flowed to people to whom it should not have.

2. DIA’s primary statutory function requires they properly regulate all the entities which they are solely responsible for licencing and that includes the pokie trusts, their managment and also the owners/operators of pokie bars. Current gambling law puts a clear statutory obligation on the DIA that they must be satisfied with these entities before they can lawfully issue a gambling licence. The legal obligation was put in place to ensure they did their job and prevented harm, and ensured the grant distribution process was fair to all grant applicants. That obligation does not require the resources of the Serious Fraud Office or the standard of proof required in a criminal case, just a balance of probabilities. Under these circumstances the public could now rightly demand why all of the issues and recommendations identified in Bermingham’s report of 2009 were not immediately addressed first and foremost with the pokie trusts named and why now after five years the taxpayer is funding a relaunch or rehash of an operation which until now was ignored by DIA.

3. In 2010, during the four to five years of DIA inaction, DIA seek and receive documents and testimony from me and others that not only linked ORFU and Harness Racing (Mike O’Brien) to three South Auckland bars but of far greater significance was the fact that the evidence implicated the involvement of one of NZ’s biggest trusts, TTCF Inc, now TTCF Ltd, and how its trustees were complicit to such arrangements and were knowingly approving millions of dollars of grants to both ORFU and Racing between 2005 and 2011.

The DIA, OAG, and now the SFO have all given me different stories about why TTCF has been excluded from Operation Chestnut but it is blatantly obvious to me and others that to include O’Brien’s relationship with ORFU and those three Jokers bars would mean including TTCF. It would open up a can of worms with the Government because, as we know, TTCF trustees are very very well connected and they have politicians who will pick up the phone.

Quite frankly, as an ex Police Prosecutor and Detective Sergeant, I am appalled at this situation. Operation Chestnut has become nothing more than an exercise in regaining the public confidence in DIA, its Minister and the gambling sector by taking scalps that fall outside their primary responsibility. Evidence implicating the pokie trusts and their trustees is being ignored or suppressed to take the scalp of someone who essentially sits outside the industry. Mike O’Brien would not have been able to get one cent, let alone the $30 million that DIA/SFO allege has been gained, if it weren’t for the primary offenders, the persons with the ultimate public responsibility, that approved that money back to those interests. Their part in the offending is far more serious than anyone outside the industry.

Pokie trust boards are stacked with high profile well connected personalities all of whom receive a payment of around $50-100k per annum for the privilege. The NZCT board includes ex Wellington Mayor, Kerry Prendergast, who is also an advisor to the Auditor General. TTCF’s Chairman is Ross Clow who is now with Auckland City Council, and then there is Warren Flaunty, NZ’s most elected man. They are the ones who approved these grants and yet they are barely mentioned, quoted or identified by media, let alone interviewed by DIA or SFO.

Last but not least, another conscientious DIA investigator recently contacted me to advise that they saw the full NZRU report into the demise of the ORFU that was supplied to the DIA. They have confirmed that it contains considerable detail of ORFU’s ownership of the Jokers bars and their relationship with Mike O’Brien and TTCF. The report was provided to DIA simply because NZRU wanted to judge the risk of DIA legal action before pumping funds into ORFU. Little wonder DIA continue to withhold that report.

[ends]

Related Post and Comments:
30.12.13 DIA insights: Pokie rorts, money-go-rounds, names

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

56 Comments

Filed under Business, Economics, Geography, Name, New Zealand, ORFU, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Sport

56 responses to “Martin Legge: Operation Chestnut [DIA’s PR exercise]

  1. Russell Garbutt

    Martin, it seems to me that the Police would have an obligation and a right to view that report on the ORFU made by the NZRU in light of my complaint to the Police on the frauds and rorts that involved the ORFU. While the DIA say that they can only act under the Gambling Act, the Police act under the Crimes Act which has no statute of limitations that the DIA used to fob me off.

    I will ensure that the Police know of this report, know that the DIA have a copy of this report as does the NZRU and obviously the ORFU. I have no doubt that it backs up my complaints made to the Police in 2012.

  2. Mike

    hmmm – I wonder if a FOIA request would dislodge the ORFU report from the DIA?

  3. Russell Garbutt

    Mike, I have no doubt that the DIA’s response would be to say that it would compromise the Chestnut investigation which, as we all know from Martin’s posting, is just BS. To reveal the report would actually compromise the bunch of losers within the DIA. But the DIA has just a copy of the report. The NZRU has the actual report, as do the authors of the report, as do the ORFU who were the subject of the report. Pretty easy to get a copy if you have the authority to demand one. eg the Police, the DIA, the SFO, the OAG etc etc.

  4. Calvin Oaten

    This all raises the question: Why, with so much documented information, complied over such a long period of time, by people of impeccable ability and diligence, has it not been sufficient to force the cessation of these ongoing ‘rorts’? Answer, “CORRUPTION” from many quarters. It is never going to stop, so just suck up and get on with it.

  5. Martin Legge

    The conscientious investigator was adamant that when the NZRU report was made available to DIA in 2012, DIA interviewed members of the ORFU about its content. However, he’d been tasked to only go after Mike O’Brien and had not been provided and therefore was unaware of any of the evidence I’d provided which clearly implicates ORFU and the TTCF Trustees as being part of this big rort.

    He cannot answer why ORFU and TTCF have been excluded except to say that he did what he was told with what he’d been given by management.

    It’s so plainly evident that DIA have either ignored, lost or deliberately suppressed evidence implicating the involvement of trustees and large pokie trusts. This is corruption and is akin to throwing all your resources into catching the drug user while doing deals with the drug dealers.

    I witnessed how a pokie trust and trustees were complicit to rorts but how this plays out may rest with Mike O’Brien if he is ever charged. If I was him I’d be saying I didn’t deceive anyone because they (pokie trusts and trustees) all knew what I was up to but they wanted my business!!!

    When I get around to it I will release extracts from the formal interview conducted between Warwick Hodder (TTCF Manager) and DIA investigators in late 2010 and you will see further admissions and evidence that DIA Management want to forget.

  6. Martin Legge

    While Mike O’Brien and Southern Racing clubs are feeling the full force of the criminal law perhaps they should reflect on the following correspondence showing just how DIA dealt with TTCF and ORFU over the same type of activity alleged to have been committed by southern racing clubs. The emails follow a public admission by ORFU Manager, Jeremy Curragh, that ORFU had misused charitable pokie funds received from TTCF to pay its creditors.

    Email: Dated June 15 2012 8.44am
    From: Kevin Finnegan (Southern DIA Manager)
    To: Warwick Hodder (TTCF’s General Manager)

    Just to clarify we need to be able to close down complaints about funds being used to pay creditors, other than what was applied for etc etc. Thus I will be looking for TTCF to confirm that Grant funds were used for the stated authorised purpose when the grant was approved and where they were not they have received a refund.

    Reply from: Warwick Hodder June 15 2012 at 9.06am

    We are both on the same page Kevin. The grants office managed to get ORFU to scan advance copies of all accountability documents yesterday and found that there were one or two items that the union missed when assessing the amount of the refund.
    They have agreed to refund whatever figure we come up with. I am very confident that you will find everything is properly accounted for.
    [ends]

    Looks like a protection racket to me, where genuine public concerns are shut down rather than properly investigated by the DIA. It’s totally unacceptable behaviour given that DIA were sitting on evidence describing other serious unlawful arrangements between TTCF, ORFU, Racing and the Jokers bars spanning years and involving millions of dollars. This admission by Curragh should have simply corroborated those arrangements. DIA investigator, Dave Bermingham was spot on when he claimed Debbie Despard (the Senior DIA Manager) had ordered Finnegan to make it go away.

    Also note how quickly ORFU coughed up a refund cheque for funds not used for the purposes for which they were granted. In other words someone in ORFU committed theft or fraud of charitable gaming funds and this is how the corrupt DIA dealt with it !!!

  7. Calvin Oaten

    Martin, even though all this is old information, it demonstrates again just how badly the DIA is placed in the whole corrupt process. Until there is any political will to face up to the situation and vow to clean out the department and restore the credibility of the ‘charitable gambling charade’ nothing will change. There are too many powerful vested interests involved across all sections of the community, even into the churches. Once people take money (for whatever purpose) sourced from the poor in such a brazen manner then consciences are checked in at the door of the temple. As the saying goes: “follow the money.”

  8. Russell Garbutt

    Calvin, the money is sitting in places like Murray Acklin’s trust accounts. Remember he used to own an exclusive accommodation spot in Sunshine Bay at Queenstown? That was sold in August last year to an Ozzie guy and my picking is that it is easiest to hide away the ill-gotten gains from years of pokie rorts and frauds when there is not too much to visibly show you own. Best to put it into trusts just like that other charming and honest gentleman, Michael Swann, and his equally charming mate and fellow Qtown resident, Kerry Harford. Plenty of lawyers and accountants around who will bend over backwards to hide ill-gotten funds – particularly when they can be Directors and start claiming fees.

    While a raft of southern racing clubs have benefitted, the real winners are those that clip the ticket on the way through. All those “expenses” that Acklin racked up and of course Director’s fees. This mentality leads to a sense of entitlement that pervades governance. For example, I don’t believe for a second that those on the Carisbrook Stadium Trust put all their “effort” into the activities of that Trust without extensive clipping of the tickets. Aided and abetted by slack and stupid DCC governance and complicit DCC senior management.

    What I’d really like to know is just how many others have had a quiet clip of the pokie fund ticket? Is it too much to suggest that there have been some in some of the regulatory bodies that may have had “gifts”? Sort of like John Banks? Or put another way, just what drives the DIA hierarchy to hide evidence? Purely saving their own skins? And what of the Minsters? The DIA told me at my meeting with them that if I wrote to the Minister then he would automatically refer any letter to the staff who would write the response.

    Unless there is much more public information on the activities of these conniving white collar sods and they are actually held accountable, then not too much will change.

  9. Search engine term (today):

    *serious fraud office internet access warning message*

    :)

  10. Calvin Oaten

    Russell, you and Martin have done enough research and investigation to show clearly the need for a complete “opening of the books” into the whole corrupt business and the DIA’s part in concealing the truth. Just what can be done further, when your approaches to the police for action appears to bear no result, leaves it clearly in the politicians’ court. We only have to look at that sanctimonious prat Dunne to see where his scruples lie. Ditto the rest. I see this going nowhere.

  11. Martin Legge

    Not sure I agree Calvin. DIA and SFO have put their reputations on the line over Operation Chestnut and need a result. Therefore evidence found to be deliberately ignored, suppressed or simply overlooked for nearly 5 years to protect the pokie trusts and trustees and then throwing the kitchen sink at individuals may play out badly in a criminal court particularly when one also considers that most of the public concern has been about the activities of pokie trusts and their management.

    I re-read this article:
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10816472 only to see that the 79-year-old wasn’t happy about being the only one charged. Will Operation Chestnut simply be a replay of this!!!

  12. Calvin Oaten

    Martin, Thanks for the NZ Herald news article. An enlightening tale of passing the parcel. Seems that the judge even is up to the “three monkeys trick”. The following ‘Bob Jones’ article puts it more bluntly, but it is still a serious form of taxation with some crumbs falling off the table into the likes of the racing, rugby etc laps. On that basis I suspect it will take a huge push from the public to make any impact. As you say, there is more than enough information there to prosecute a lot of very important people and organizations, so why pick on a 79-year-old in poor health? Think, if we are lucky he will be off before he does too much damage.

  13. Hypothermia sent this link to What if? earlier (May 2012), glad Martin’s brought it up again! The howling absurdity of DIA’s position is manifest. The old gent isn’t innocence and light personified,* just a small gamer… $870 million up for grabs! Who gets it all……. (present tense).

    https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/orfu-board-announced/#comment-24271

    *Age is no cover. Think of the considerable ‘accomplishments’ of Alan Hubbard in his dotage… and the fall of South Canterbury Finance. Don’t forget the skimmers and dippers: Denham Shale, Bill Baylis, Stuart McLauchlan and Co. who fresh from SFC quickly got their fingers into DCC pie. No different to pokie rorts – gave themselves authority to tickle the proverbial (merely, directors fees – what did you think I was suggesting, people!!) in advisory roles. White collars. Upstanding men, on how many boards, clipping tickets.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      “Judge Blackie emphasised the need to hold the defendant accountable and responsible, to deter others who might be inclined to “rip off” the system….”
      Working well, isn’t it?
      Effective deterrent – we noticed, because rorting ceased abruptly, right?

      The 79 yr old was “employed” to do a job. Did his employers ask how come he was so successful? Did he unilaterally set up and sign up to all the scams, investments, raise “loans for the purchase of pubs” and so on without anyone else knowing? “From late 2006 to September 2009 Counties Manukau Bowls employed Noel Henry Gibbons, 79, of Manurewa, to apply for gaming machine grants.
      Mr Gibbons implemented a scheme whereby constituent clubs or CMB itself would invest indirectly in purchasing pubs where pokie machines operated – so that in turn those clubs could benefit from grants of pokie machine proceeds.”

  14. DIA dealing to the little fish while the BIG FISH get away.

    ### NZ Herald Online Tuesday 11 March 2014
    Bar manager stole nearly $10,000 in pokies money
    A former Auckland bar manager who stole nearly $10,000 of pokies money deprived community groups of essential funding, the Department of Internal Affairs says. John Mark Bradfield, a former manager of the Flo bar and cafe in Newmarket, was found guilty of theft by a person in a special relationship in relation to almost $10,000 missing from the New Zealand Community Trust account. A decision from Judge David Wilson, QC, released yesterday, said the 45-year-old knowingly took cash for his own purposes, the Department of Internal Affairs said.
    “The gambling model in New Zealand is specifically designed to benefit community groups through the distribution of the proceeds from pokies,” said Gareth Bostock, manager of regulatory investigations at the department. “When someone steals some of this money it’s the equivalent of stealing from community groups many of which need pokie machine grants to ensure the continued funding of good causes. We’re very pleased to have played a part in holding this man to account,” he said.
    Read more

  15. Martin Legge

    More propaganda as another DIA Manager thumps his chest. The great NZ gambling model is all about roughing up the little guy while turning a blind eye to the real crooks – the well connected, untouchable trustees and management of the pokie trusts who for years have got away with deliberately directing millions of community money back to the interests of the bar owners who sign up with their pokie trust.

    NZCT are Wellington based and one of the subjects of the SFO investigation called “Operation Chestnut”, and 18 months on we all still holding our breath to see if any trustees and/or management are held to account for the activity described above??

  16. Jacob

    Quote from today’s ODT Editorial “This country’s relative lack of corruption and undue influence is one of its greatest assets and must be fought for at every opportunity.” Rip Van Winkle must have written that shit. If only we had a newspaper that would expose at every opportunity, then the council might not have so much debt ?

    {See comment at this thread. -Eds}

    • Anonymous

      It’s bloody awful when someone justifies corruption by saying it’s worse elsewhere. Just suggests they’re part of the problem.

  17. Hype O'Thermia

    More people would see a point in buying the newpaper, too. We can get bullshit and spin free, online, and international news from all over the globe in assorted versions from left & right, Christian & Muslim, east & west viewpoints . A newspaper that got to the guts of what is happening in its region – OTAGO Daily Times – would be worth its subscription price. That’s the one thing that isn’t available online –
    – oh yes, there’s this site :-)
    But why is it up to bloggers to do for free what the ODT should be doing for the money it charges? Is it morphing into a daily “weekly” with “news” provided by political and business publicists padding out the spaces between ads?

  18. Jacob

    The ODT has Morphed into a rag that tries to justify the existence of the Tartan Mafia and Cull’s council. As it finds that to be an exhausting challenge to find anything of the mafia’s actions that can be made public, or anything that the council can get right the first time, it has to fill its pages with adverts. An example is today’s paper of 21 pages, 19 of them being nothing more than adverts, the others being death notices, weather reports, television programs, and the court news of the lower classes that do not have the influence to keep their names out of the public view.
    The paper has got so small that we have to ask our guests to use both sides.

  19. Jacob; we always use both sides. That way it could put a different face on the argument.

  20. Another example of DIA PR. So, the DIA itself never lies, obfuscates or withholds information ??!! Dare we mention DIA’s HIDING FROM PUBLIC VIEW the NZRU (audit) report on ORFU’s finances.

    Internal Affairs gambling compliance director Debbie Despard said the verdict was ‘‘the right result for the community. A person who is willing to try and operate covertly and to ask others to lie isn’t the type of person we want anywhere near the gaming sector’’.

    ### stuff.co.nz Sun, 27 April 2014
    Wife’s leaked emails scupper operator’s dodgy pokies bid
    By Steve Kilgallon – Sunday Star-Times
    A well known pokies operator was set to make a small fortune from a new trust until his estranged wife leaked a series of emails to Internal Affairs, which blocked the trust. Kay McIntyre handed over her husband Ray’s emails, including ones where he persuaded his sister-in-law to lie to investigators and his lawyer to redact his name from paperwork. That evidence led the Gambling Commission to back an Internal Affairs decision to refuse a licence to a new gaming trust, Phoenix, which wanted to operate pokies in Christchurch sports bar Sideline. […] McIntyre was involved in the controversial Eureka Trust, which shut down in 2009 after Internal Affairs wouldn’t renew its licence. Internal Affairs said Phoenix was a ‘‘ vehicle’’ for him to return to the industry. A former Internal Affairs employee, McIntyre said the department had victimised him.
    The Gambling Commission is also due to deliver a decision on whether the Sideline bar is banned entirely from hosting pokies.
    Read more

    Press Link:
    http://www.pressdisplay.com/staging/timesonline/viewer.aspx

  21. Martin Legge

    The article gives us a raw insight into how most pokie trusts are started by those who know how to exploit the system. They are not started by philanthropic community leaders but by ruthless businessmen who see an easy buck for themselves or the groups they are associated with. They organise the purchase of a bar, the finance, and they set up a company to manage the pokie machines at some horrendous hourly rate. They then source a bunch of high profile pet trustees/directors to front the scam and scare the DIA and hey presto. The DIA are the least of their worries – it seems it’s the ex wives and the “Whistleblowers” they need to worry about!!!

  22. A few ex wives and girlfriends would need to be careful selling out their ‘menfriends of a certain style’. Car boots, country roads and shovels come to mind – nevertheless, hope more of the gals come forward safely…

  23. The message here is if you have a wife make sure she is not an EX! Other than that it’s all ‘kosher’ and the DIA will love you for it.

  24. ### ODT Online Fri, 2 May 2014
    Pokie takings fall
    Pokie takings in the country’s 1330 pubs and clubs dropped 7 per cent in the first three months of this year compared with the last three months of 2013. Figures released by the Department of Internal Affairs show spending dropped from $206.7 million in the fourth quarter of last year to to $192.8 million in the first quarter of this year.
    Read more

  25. Martin Legge

    Could the drop in Gambling revenue be attributed to The Problem Gambling Foundation’s (PGF) dedication in exposing the rorts committed by pokie trusts that also cause huge harm and corruption within our communities.

    This Government would be very concerned about the trend of dropping revenue from pokies. It is therefore no coincidence that the PGF have been dropped from the Ministry of Health budget in favour of a far softer approach provided by the Salvation Army.

    • West is (not) Best

      Not Likely. Graeme Ramsay (Problem Gambling CEO) is now trustee at the weedfree trust (which does what exactly is unclear). It’s a wee operation managed by Westie local board member, licesing trustee and elected member, Neil Henderson. Trustees include Ramsay, and also a liquor business owner, and a local MP’s political campaign manager. Politics, liquor, pokies and *charities*. That’s how we roll in West Auckland.

  26. Poor John Key, Ministers what bring in large cheques for the National war chests, going down like flies… this on top of the loss of pokie revenue. What to do.

  27. ODT’s latest update on Operation Chestnut and its deleterous effect on ‘community grants’ to southern racing clubs. Oh dear. Playing safe until DIA and SFO turn the heat down. Meanwhile, Professional Rugby ploughs on – plundering gambling money in the usual illicit ways, doesn’t it?! No mention in the article of when Operation Chestnut goes to Court – it’s supposed to be this year some time.

    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/303567/investigation-affects-funding-racing

  28. Elizabeth

    Put some feelers out due to slight cluster activity in the searches at this site yesterday and today.

    ████ I’m told 4 people have been charged in respect of Operation Chestnut and the media are on to it.

  29. Elizabeth

    The 4 are: [name deleted], Paul Max, Mike O’Brien and father Pat O’Brien.

    More digging, comment received:
    “It’s a travesty that The Trusts Community Foundation (TTCF) have so far avoided any scrutiny of their role given that both Paul Max and Mike O’Brien controlled Roseburn Holdings Ltd (the Jokers Bars at Auckland) and had the 50:50 split with ORFU – and TTCF agreed to split the grant money from those bars.”

  30. Hype O'Thermia

    Christmas cracker joke
    What is the difference between the DIA and Mainland cheese?

    Mainland has a good reason for taking its time – it’s producing a wholesome result not a flaming embarrassment.

    Reminder: ““Operation Chestnut” was started way back in 2008 and the investigator submitted his report to Senior Management in 2008-09. The same management includes Debbie Despard, who now fronts the relaunch of Operation Chestnut but note she failed to tell media that the operation started in 2008 and she has been sitting on the report for five years.”

  31. Elizabeth

    Hype, let’s hope the ‘authorities’ have their evidence in tidy order, that will make charges stick. It’s quite surreal.

  32. Elizabeth

    To add to Xmas chestnut roasting….
    Our old friend Wikipedia says this:

    During World War II, Operation Chestnut was a failed British raid by 2 Special Air Service, conducted in support of the Allied invasion of Sicily.
    Two teams of ten men each, codenamed ‘Pink’ and ‘Brig’, parachuted into northern Sicily on the night of 12 July 1943, to disrupt communications, transport and the enemy in general. All radios were broken and much ammunition, explosives and food lost in the jump. One team landed near an inhabited area, alerting the defenders.
    Without radios neither team was able to contact and direct the planes bringing in reinforcements, which subsequently returned to base without any drops being made. The raiders were unable to achieve anything worthwhile and worked their way towards friendly lines evading the enemy.
    This was the first parachute raid for 2 SAS, and also the raid when Maj. Geoffrey Appleyard, (former commander of the Small Scale Raiding Force), was lost. Appleyard was aboard the plane carrying ‘Pink’ team as drop supervisor. After the drop was made the plane failed to return to base.

  33. Elizabeth

    More on the 4 at Racecafe – http://www.racecafe.co.nz/forums/index.php?/page/articles.html/_/articles/newz-breakinz-serious-fraud-office-charges-4-r15

    NEWZ BREAKINZ – Serious Fraud Office charges 4 Racing People
    Dec 08 2014 11:16 AM | Boris Badenov in Articles
    Not sure is this is true but Boris has word that Operation Chestnut has started charging racing industry people with fraud. We will keep you posted as we find out more.

    Thanks.

    The wordz is Chestnuts investigation has charged 4 racing identitiez with Serious Fraud.

    2 with Irish names from South Island and 2 otherz – one past prominent industry personz.”

  34. Elizabeth

    Yesterday, the Department of Internal Affairs confirmed summons had been served on four people on charges of obtaining by deception. The four – all men with links to the racing industry – are due to appear in court on February 2.

    http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/326539/racing-men-due-appear-court

  35. Elizabeth

    On front page of The Press today (via Nelson Mail).

    ### stuff.co.nz Last updated 08:18, December 9 2014
    Four charged in fraud inquiry
    By Blair Ensor, Talia Shadwell and Steve Kilgallon
    The largest investigation in the history of the country’s gambling sector has ended with four people facing serious fraud charges. Operation Chestnut started in June 2012. It involved the Serious Fraud Office, the Department of Internal Affairs and police. The inquiry scrutinised $30 million in gaming grants made by the New Zealand Community Trust, Infinity and Bluegrass trusts since 2006.

    The men charged are:
    – Prominent racing figures Mike O’Brien and his father, Patrick [O’Brien], from Blenheim
    – Bankrupt hospitality consultant Paul Max, from Nelson
    A former gaming inspector, who cannot be named.

    Between them they will face more than 20 charges of obtaining by deception – a crime punishable by up to seven years’ jail. The four men are due to appear in court in February. The alleged offending relates only to the dealings of Blenheim-based Bluegrass.
    Stuff link

    Is there more to come in regards to the two other trusts named?

  36. Elizabeth

    Re New Zealand Community Trust and The Stadium, don’t forget this comment:

    Don’t forget how the stadium turf was paid for…

    The Dunedin City Council has been granted more than $600,000 to buy an artificial turf system for Forsyth Barr Stadium, the largest poker machine grant given to a local body. New Zealand Community Trust chief executive Mike Knell confirmed the trust had granted $605,556 for the artificial turf system, following a request from the Dunedin City Council. “It is a legacy for the whole community,” he said. [ODT 13.10.10]

  37. Elizabeth

    And yes, DIA (thanks for crawling through the site – the public service has never looked so bad), hope to hell you’re enjoying all the posts on yourselves and your goddam cronies: the supposed do-gooder parliamentarians, money barons, trustees, and other white collars that go out of their way to prop up the country’s professional rugby and racing thugs. Hai Debs and Maar10.

    This website backs whistleblower Martin Legge unreservedly. Get that.

    [while I’m at it – thanks to Sheriff at RaceCafe for spelling things out, frequently sharply unadorned]

  38. Hype O'Thermia

    I’m fed up to the back teeth with bent cops and not-quite bent others who are – and not on the minimum wage either, far from it – supposed to supply the checks that are supposed to ensure NZ’s high reputation for being free from corruption. Laziness to villainy, the reasons behind bad decisions are many. Laziness, when it’s too much trouble to check the “facts” and figures >> Fubar Stadium, is an example. I’m fed up with inquiries carefully structured, tightly corseted – no flexibility, no bending! – to avoid coming up with anything relevant, so the result is that “everything’s just dandy, now no more questioning please, we’ve held an inquiry”.

  39. Russell Garbutt

    Here is the nub of the matter in a few sentences.

    There is no shortage of proof that money flowed from pokie machines in South Auckland to prop up professional rugby in Otago over an extended period of time.

    There is no shortage of proof that shows how this flow of money was set up, managed and controlled, and by whom.

    There is no shortage of proof that people associated with professional rugby in Otago, in conjunction with a pokie trust, concealed the use of the money that flowed from pokie funds by way of shadow entities.

    There is no shortage of proof that those involved had a “high public profile”.

    There is no appetite to pursue those responsible by those charged to regulate the pokie industry. Such action would reveal an amazing lack of professionalism in the DIA and the NZ Police.

    Lesson to be learned?

    If you are well connected, you are involved in professional rugby, and you have been rorting the pokie fund industry, then you don’t have anything to fear. You may think this, but you are wrong. Your day will come.

  40. Elizabeth

    Very well articulated, Russell.
    I’m concerned that that day may never come in my lifetime, the way the regulatory authorities and the judiciary are stacked.

  41. Elizabeth

    Tomorrow ODT covers the Highlanders’ rather slim annual profit (well under $100K, by half….); and this today for the ‘upstanding’ (joke) white collars at NZRU:

    Stuff: All Blacks’ US test helps NZRU turn loss into profit

    [Meanwhile DCC/DCHL/DVML are negotiating the new deal for Otago Rugby to play at the stadium – with an announcement expected before Xmas, according to Terence at DVML. We hear he’s into brinkmanship. Details are to hand, but not for public dissemination. Regardless, the ratepayers are still getting stiffed, with the stadium staying open for use.]

  42. Calvin Oaten

    “All Blacks US test helps NZRU turn loss into profit”
    When are we going to wake up to the fact that this is an annual bleat. Yet the NZRU still managed to conjure out of the ether a surplus of over $65 million as recently as last year. Face it, it has to constantly plead facing insolvency else the stadium providers up and down the country would rightfully want, or even demand a fairer return for the use of the ratepayer funded facilities. We know for a fact that here in Dunedin the ratepayers have been mercilessly exploited by rugby to an almost criminal extent.

    “The Highlanders to show a rather slim annual profit.” Of course they will, that is their first card on the table in the negotiating game. There is any number of ways that surpluses can be concealed when there is no audited accounts put on the table. And there won’t be, trust me. It is just a game to put the ‘frighteners’ into DVML. Even if it was true, DVML won’t know, and it will be faced with the dilemma of ‘fold’ and the stadium will continue incurring deficits, ‘hold’ and it might lose the deal and the stadium close. That would be the disaster that they all couldn’t face so it won’t happen.

    “DCC/DCHL/DVML are negotiating the new deal for Otago Rugby to play at the stadium”. What that really means is that Terry has put out the begging bowl. That has always been the way and it always will be, because Terry will be told the terms and he will accept them without a quibble. The one chance to do the right thing and solve the stadium’s future one way or the other and the collective “Poobahs” of DCC /DCHL/ DVML simply don’t have the bottle to realise that they hold the cards. Rugby will ‘eyeball’ them and they will all blink.
    We will be here again, in a year or two, $20 to $30 million poorer and no further ahead in solving the problem.

    • Mike

      So if the Highlanders increased their ticket prices and started paying the city what it really costs to use the rugby stadium wouldn’t they be better off financially?

      {Highlanders/Rugby discussion redirected to this thread Forsyth Barr Stadium Review. -Eds}

  43. Martin Legge

    The 4 charged in respect of Operation Chestnut come as no surprise. Given the inconsistent explanations, the lies and excuses received from the DIA and the SFO, it is blindingly obvious to me that certain individuals have been targeted to the exclusion of anything connecting them to the cartels, the corporate pokie trusts with the very highest fiduciary and community responsibility, all of whom were happy to do business with these 4, well prior to the establishment of the Bluegrass Trust. It is also interesting how the media were initially told this investigation went as far back as 2006 and yet the Bluegrass Trust was only “licenced” by the DIA in late 2009 and so their arrangements with TTCF and NZCT have all but been erased!

    Those other trusts are larger, more established and more politically connected than Bluegrass Trust and they will be delighted at the demise of Bluegrass because its creation took pokie business away from them. The DIA and SFO are playing it tight, avoiding a complete meltdown of public confidence in the sector, 12 months after this Govt refused to overhaul the current distribution model and abolish pokie trusts. It is what happens when politicians call the shots in the public service.

    Since the media release about the charges, I have been contacted by several insiders informing me that, given the resourses and tactics employed during this investigation, there is now serious concern from many who worked on the investigation as to why other persons and pokie trusts have been excluded. Comes as no surprise to me.

    In 2012, Maarten Quivooy briefed his Minister, that Pokie trusts were extremely litigious and so they (DIA) had to choose their battles very carefully. It confirms the mindset that has infected the DIA at the highest level. In spite of the public concern at the level of corruption within pokie trusts, it remains far easier to pick off individuals, particularly those who no longer have access to the unlimited and highest level of legal defence paid for by community funds.

    Finally, I’ve also been advised that the legal firm acting for the accused are the same legal firm who represented TTCF during my “whistleblower” investigation and literally ran rings around the DIA. They brag about representing over 40% of the industry including the TAB and the NZRB. Can’t see them dumping on their other corporate clients and future earnings with other trusts to save these four!

  44. Elizabeth

    Maybe insider trading at that law firm would make a difference, are DIA/SFO too scared to try it on ??!!

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