Day At The Track

O'Briens in court over alleged pokie fraud

01:07 PM 31 Jul 2015 NZST
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Mike O'Brien - Due back in court on October 8th
Mike O'Brien - Due back in court on October 8th

Not guilty pleas have been entered for four men facing allegations of $30 million gaming fraud.

The four are due back in Wellington District Court on October 8 for a review of the Serious Fraud Office charges against them.

Name suppression was continued for one man but the other three are Paul Max, 58, of Nelson; former Harness Racing New Zealand chairman Patrick O'Brien, 80, of Blenheim; and his son Mike O'Brien.

A total of 32 charges of obtaining benefits by deception were laid.

Max, 58, faces 13 charges that together with Mike O'Brien he obtained venue licences by deception.

The man whose name was suppressed  asked to be dealt with separately from the others. He had previously pleaded not guilty and not guilty pleas were entered for the others on Friday.

The Serious Fraud Office laid charges in February after an investigation involving police and the Internal Affairs Department into gaming grants made by trusts since 2006.

About 20 venues, including five pubs in Blenheim, five properties in Wellington, two in Hawke's Bay and one in Masterton, were investigated.

Details of the charges include concealing from the secretary of Internal Affairs that ownership of companies had been transferred from Mike O'Brien to Paul Max, and concealing the influence Mike O'Brien had in the management of Bluegrass Trust to retain control of it.

The charges related to gaming machines outside casinos, such as those found in pubs and clubs. The money from them can only be used for certain purposes.

Reprinted with permission of Stuff NZ - Check site here

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