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Three men found guilty of pokie fraud in Wellington High Court

Thursday 15th June 2017

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Three men have been found guilty in a multi-million dollar gaming machine fraud case, after manipulating gambling licences and grants.

In the Wellington High Court, Michael Joseph O’Brien of Blenheim was found guilty of five charges of obtaining by deception, Paul Anthony Max of Nelson was found guilty of three charges of obtaining by deception and Kevin Coffey of Hastings was found guilty of one charge of obtaining by deception and not guilty of one charge of the same.

The offending was detected during Operation Chestnut, a joint investigation involving the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand, and the Serious Fraud Office, the SFO said in a statement, describing the investigation as a significant case for the Class 4 gambling sector which is made up of high-turnover gambling including pokie machines.

"Funding from pokie machines provides millions of dollars of community funding for sport, health, education and other activities every year," SFO director Julie Read said. "Operation Chestnut has been effective in enabling the DIA to pinpoint areas where compliance can be lifted in the sector so that pokie machine benefits can continue without the risk of manipulation or potential criminal activity."

The defendants have been remanded in custody by Justice Robert Dobson to next appear for sentencing on July 13.


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