Racing dumped its best assets
- by:Matt Stewart
- From:Herald Sun
- August 18, 2012 12:00am
A DECISION to dump three respected investigators with close ties to the Purana taskforce has come back to haunt a toothless Racing Victoria.
RVL and racing integrity commissioner Sal Perna claims to be hamstrung by a lack of interaction with police in the current race-fixing scandal.
But industry sources have told the Herald Sun that the parting of ways with the investigators – Jim Monahan, Peter McMillan and Margaret McCormack – robbed Racing Victoria of its integrity backbone.
Mr McMillan moved on in 2008 and Mr Monahan and Ms McCormack soon after.
A former member of the integrity department said Mr McMillan, in particular, was crucial to ridding racing of undesirables such as the Mokbel family.
Mr McMillan discovered that Horty Mokbel was a part-owner of the Peter Moody-trained Pillar Of Hercules, which had raced under the ownership of Irene Meletsis. The horse was sold in 2007 as a result of Mr McMillan’s findings.
The source said the investigators, all from police backgrounds, had invaluable contacts and investigative nous “due to their existing relationships with the police”.
Mr Monahan said yesterday it was important in such investigations to be able to “recognise if a matter has criminal elements” and be able to brief police at the earliest time and seek aid.
The source said senior stewards had “arrogantly” assumed they could perform the tasks of the investigators but they “struggled to put together a decent brief and simply couldn’t liaise with the police”.
Ditching the investigators was “one of the main reasons RVL now finds itself so powerless”.
The investigators were not replaced. Former jockeys Kane Ashby and Dion Villella have stepped into a new integrity assurance group.
A source close to the former investigators said: “They had access to a lot of information and had techniques and police contacts that have not been replaced.”
Asked if RVL was struggling to tackle racing’s unsavoury elements because of its “restructuring” since 2008, the source said: “Of course the answer is yes.”
Mr Perna said he had faith in Racing Victoria’s integrity department but it “would be worth considering” staff with proven investigative powers and police contacts.
“It’s important to not just have a basic skill but an ability to investigate complex matters, to prepare and present complex matters,” he said.
“The question might be, is there a gap (in the integrity department)?”
“It’s certainly worth considering.”
Racing Victoria integrity services manager Dayle Brown did not return Herald Sun phone calls yesterday.