Racing inquiry can’t accept police intelligence
Inquiry launches into race fixing
Victoria’s Racing Integrity commissioner Sal Perna announced the launch of an official inquiry to address race-fixing concerns in the industry.
AN INQUIRY into race fixing in Victoria is expected to lead to new laws to improve co-operation between police and racing authorities seeking to stamp out corruption.
Announcing the 25-day inquiry yesterday, Racing Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna said his probe might result in recommendations to the state government to enable racing stewards to receive information from police and to allow Racing Victoria to act on unlicensed people suspected of unusual betting activity.
”It’s also about plugging holes in systems and processes. Are there changes that could have been done better? … Are there changes that are needed to be made to legislation?” Mr Perna said.
”One of the issues that we’ve had is the information that the police have that they can’t provide us or the racing controlling bodies … we’re looking at ways of overcoming that in the future.”
Racing Minister Denis Napthine welcomed the inquiry into thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing and said the government was willing to legislate to improve the sport’s integrity.
The inquiry comes after revelations in The Age and on the ABC’s Four Corners about corruption in racing, including race-fixing allegations involving top jockeys. One of those jockeys is Danny Nikolic, who is also facing a police probe for allegedly fixing a race in Cranbourne last year.
That race involved a horse called Smoking Aces, ridden by Nikolic. Others being investigated over a betting plunge linked to the race include former trainer John Nikolic, who is Danny’s brother, and former AFL player and jockey adviser Mark Hunter.
An ongoing investigation by The Age can also reveal:
■Racing sources have confirmed that Danny Nikolic had significant control over the ownership and training of Smoking Aces, directing a Caulfield trainer on how the horse should be treated in the lead-up to the Cranbourne race.
■Organised crime figures along the east coast are closely tied to major betting operations run by professional punters and which have access to trainers, jockeys and other racing figures.
Mr Perna said his office had received significantly more calls from the public following the media reports of alleged race fixing. Although he does not have the power to compel people to assist the inquiry or to access potential evidence obtained through police phone taps, Mr Perna said people could give his office information in strict confidence. He hoped to make his report public.
Mr Perna said he believed Victoria’s racing industry was mostly above board.