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Gaming industry whistleblower

Written By: - Date published: 10:21 am, April 23rd, 2012 - 8 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, national - Tags: , ,

Very interesting article by Steve Kilgallon on Stuff yesterday. It reports the experience of ex cop Martin Legge:

The inside man

Martin Legge spent two decades as a cop in Levin, catching the crims and then, as police prosecutor, taking them to court. Now, he says, he wonders why. “I’m embarrassed that we used to run around chasing guys for $1000 they ripped off Social Welfare,” he says. “The big money is heading out the back door through softly regulated industries full of people in suits who should know better.”

Mr Legge sees the world clearly. And he’s been right in the middle of the gaming industry:

After leaving the police, Legge worked for a gaming machine trust which gave out poker machine grants. What he saw over the next decade shocked, disgusted and disillusioned him. He tried to brief his local MP, the gaming minister Nathan Guy, on the state of the industry. And then Internal Affairs, the industry watchdog, rang him up. Would he, it asked, become a whistleblower?

Legge and his wife Liz hand-delivered two bulging ringbinders of documents to the department, packed with incriminating emails (some marked “delete this email forever”) to and from his colleagues at the Trusts Charitable Foundation. He also gave Internal Affairs a 9200-word statement.

He was interviewed by an investigator who said he was confident of a result. Then he was told it was a “slamdunk”. In January 2011, the head of investigations told the Legges the case was “90 per cent complete” and he was contemplating seven serious charges against individuals and the trust.

Sounds like serious wrongdoing. What happened next?

Legge waited, and waited.

He wrote again to Guy, who rebuffed him, he contacted the auditor-general’s office, and pursued Internal Affairs until March 20121, when the department finally told him it was, pretty much, case closed. By then, Legge says wryly, relations were “strained”.

Who shut this enquiry down, and why? (Reporters, start your OIAs.) What information does Mr Legge have, and who is he prepared to share it with? Predictably…

Legge’s contract with the foundation wasn’t renewed, and he has no doubt it was, and perhaps understandably, filthy at him for turning whistleblower. He was told he would never work in the industry again.

That doesn’t bother him. What does is that after all those years in the police, he knows when something dodgy has gone on. And he knows when there’s enough evidence to prosecute, or at least go to the Gambling Commission.

So why, when he supplied Internal Affairs with material on a string of questionable incidents that could have resulted in multiple prosecutions, has nothing happened?

“They have sold us out,” he says simply. When you hear Legge’s story, you wonder why anyone in the corporate world would ever blow the whistle again.

Read on, it’s a long and interesting article, great work by Steve Kilgallon. In the context of the current focus on the gaming industry in NZ we cannot allow this case to be swept under the carpet…

8 comments on “Gaming industry whistleblower ”

  1. ChrisH 1

    Sounds like not much has changed since the days of Ronald Hugh Morrieson, or for that matter, Keith Holyoake: http://werewolf.co.nz/2012/04/public-office-private-gain/ . As the Aussies would say, it’s all a question of who your maaaaaaates are. But we’re better at keeping this under wraps than they are. No depression in New Zealand and all that.

  2. tc 2

    ” When you hear Legge’s story, you wonder why anyone in the corporate world would ever blow the whistle again. ”

    maybe that’s the message, don’t step out of line move along nothing to see.

  3. marsman 3

    Nathan Guy needs to be questioned on this to see if he has anything to hide. Can of worms it seems.

  4. McFlock 4

    Guy seems to have at least initially acted properly – referred the case to the investigators.
         
    If indeed prosecutions should reasonably have occurred but did not (not convictions, just prosecutions to start with), I’d be looking for two things: any political interference from elected representatives; and/or a too-cosy relationship between the watchdog body and the industry (i.e. do investigators typically retire and enter the gambling industry, or do gambling employees become investigators, or do investigators enjoy too much hospitality from – or belong to the same rugby club as – the industry?).

  5. Kevin Welsh 5

    When I was running an American Football team in Palmerston North from 1995 til 2004, the only means of sponsorship money was through the Pub Charity money. Only one pub, The Empire Hotel, was prepared to back us, as rugby pretty much tied up most of the funding in the area.

    The only catch was that in order to get the money (around $10,000), we had to sell vouchers (to the value of $20,000) to anyone who would buy them. The vouchers were redeemable for food and accommodation at The Empire Hotel.

    Naturally we declined.

    I kept all the correspondence and made inquiries about dobbing them into Internal Affairs, but was politely told that if our club ever wanted to get sponsorship money from any of the charities available, then we were best to forget about it.

    The following year we got a great sponsor from another pub who supported us for over ten years.

  6. Treetop 6

    Sounds like there needs to be an independent inquiry into Internal Affairs closing down the Legge’s concerns.

    Did Internal Affairs just want to see what evidence the Legges had?

    There are 18,600 non casino pokie machines in the country and don’t tell me that there is not OPPERTUNITY for fraud to occur e.g. hefty running costs which include extravagance.

    How often are these machines audited?

    Sounds like any expansion in other gambling (TAB) is being funded by those who control who gets the community grant from pokie machines.

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