Day At The Track

Former chairman of HRNZ charged with fraud

01:26 PM 09 Dec 2014 NZDT
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Pat O'Brien Mike O'Brien
Pat O'Brien - Former Harness Racing New Zealand Chairman
Mike O'Brien, a harness racing trainer and son of Pat O'Brien

The former chairman of Harness Racing New Zealand and members of a prominent horse racing family, Patrick O’Brien, along with his son, Michael, Nelson’s Paul Max and a former gaming inspector who could not be named, have all been issues summons on charges of fraud in one of the country’s largest gambling sector investigations.

Called “Operation Chestnut ” the investigation was started back in June of 2012 according to the Serious Fraud Office, Department of Affairs and the police.

The investigation alleges that more than $30 million in gaming grants were made by the New Zealand Community Trust, Infinity and Bluegrass Trusts, dating all the way back to 2006.

Scheduled to appear in court in February, the four men could face at least 20 charges of obtaining by deception, which could carry up to seven years in jail.

"If you don't think you've done anything wrong, it's a bloody shock to get a summons, said Patrick O’Brien. “I'll be defending the charges."

Paul Max also said he would defend the charges against him. "It's before the courts so on that basis it's completely inappropriate for me to make any comment."

Michael O'Brien said he had been instructed not to comment by his lawyers, but said the charges would be "vigorously defended".

The trusts had its gaming license taken away earlier this year after the Gambling Commission found that it provided false and misleading information to Internal Affairs.

Harnesslink media

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