Racing body prepares to act on fixing
- BY:BRENDAN CORMICK AND CAMERON STEWART
- From:The Australian
- August 17, 2012 12:00AM
Racing Integrity commissioner Sal Perna yesterday. Picture: Aaron Francis Source: The Australian
RACING Victoria boss Rob Hines expects charges to be laid by Victoria Police in relation to race-fixing, but the state’s peak racing body may not wait, standing alleged offenders down if legal advice supports such action.
On the same day that The Australian reported chief steward Terry Bailey had left the midweek metropolitan race meeting at Sandown to attend a briefing at the St Kilda Road police complex, Hines confirmed his chief integrity officers had been briefed about the involvement of licensed persons and others in corrupt practices.
Integrity Services manager Dayle Brown and Bailey have been briefed by police, who discovered evidence of race-fixing while investigating last year’s murder of Les Samba.
“My understanding is there is sufficient evidence of race-fixing that charges of conspiracy or fraud can be laid,” Hines told the industry-owned TVN yesterday.
“It’s certainly my expectation and hope.
Racing Victoria is seeking legal advice relating to its power to stand down licensed persons linked to the investigation ahead of any charges being laid.
“We are taking advice on that. We’re not going to make the assumption we can’t,” Hines said.
When contacted by The Australian yesterday, Detective Superintendent Gerry Ryan said the police investigation was ongoing and he would not comment.
The possibility of systemic corruption in Victoria’s racing industry will be examined as part of a major investigation into allegations of race-fixing.
The inquiry, called yesterday by the state’s Racing Integrity commissioner Sal Perna, will consider the need for new legislation to give racing authorities more teeth and allow closer co-operation with police in criminal investigations.
The move followsclaims that high-profile jockey Danny Nikolic was involved in fixing a race won by Smoking Aces last year at Cranbourne. Nikolic has declined to respond to the allegations.
Perna said the inquiry would seek to identify “systemic integrity issues” across thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing in relation to race-fixing.
“I do not believe there are widespread integrity issues within the racing industry in Victoria, however . . . I have a duty to address these allegations comprehensively,” Perna said.
He said he was surprised by reports suggesting that at least four top jockeys and other racing figures were under investigation for alleged corruption. He did not believe the industry was tainted with crooks but conceded there would always be some bad behaviour.
“My view is that when you have an industry that is so big, there will be pockets of inappropriate behaviour, breaching of rules and in some cases criminal activity. . . my gut feeling is that the industry is in good shape.”
He said racing bodies such as Racing Victoria were frustrated by the limited nature of their investigative powers. His inquiry would have to be conducted without coersive powers, so he was relying on the willingness of racing identities and the public to come forward with information.
Hines is pessimistic about the depth of evidence that may be presented to the inquiry, but pleaded with those with knowledge to come forward.
“My expectations are not that high, given the information the police already have but are unable to provide to us,” Hines said.
“Maybe we’ll uncover some information and some evidence.”
Victorian Racing Minister Dennis Napthine welcomed the inquiry, saying it was needed to ensure that the reputation of racing in the state did not suffer.
The inquiry will hear evidence from Monday until September 14. Perna said he hoped the final report could be made public.