Three pokie trusts and several racing industry professionals are currently under investigation by the Department of Internal Affairs. They have been suspected of collaborating to fraudulently award pokie grants to ineligible organizations and individuals.
The three organizations that have been suspected of fraud are: New Zealand Community Trust, Infinity Trust and Bluegrass Trust. These groups have allegedly manipulated pokie grant applications, committing fraud worth $30 million in grants. At the centre of the scandal is racing trainer Mike O’Brien. It is believed that he worked together with the trusts in order to secure funds for himself and his clubs.
The Department of Internal Affairs has assigned 50 staff members to the case, and has issued 10 search warrants. O’Brien’s home and hotel room were the first locations to receive warrants, and his father’s home will also be searched. Warrants were also issue for pokie trust offices and the homes of pokie trust employees.
This is not the first time that local pokie trusts have been in trouble for misappropriating funds. This has happened many times before, with Bluegrass Trust and Infinity Trust both involved in previous scandals. It seems that there is a serious need to tighten up monitoring for New Zealand’s pokie trusts.