Gaming machine fraud leads to detention

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Serious Fraud Office

Auckland July 14, 2017

Two out of three of the defendants found guilty in June this year of ‘Obtaining by deception’ in a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) prosecution of a multi-million-dollar gaming machine fraud have been sentenced in the Wellington High Court on July 13, 2017.

Michael O’Brien, guilty of five charges, received a sentence of imprisonment for four years, six months.

Kevin Coffey, guilty of one charge, was sentenced to home detention for 12 months.

Paul Max, guilty of three charges, will be sentenced in the Wellington High Court on 27 July.

Licence manipulation

The case involved the manipulation of gambling licenses and grants and the offending was detected during Operation Chestnut, a joint investigation involving the Department of Internal Affairs, the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand and the SFO. It was a significant case in New Zealand for the ‘Class 4’ gambling sector, which is made up of high-turnover gambling including gaming machines in pubs and clubs.

SFO Chief Executive Julie Read said, “The sentences imposed reflect the very serious nature of the misconduct in this case. The proceeds from pokie machines, intended to provide community funding for sport, health, education and other activities, were directed to entities nominated by Michael O’Brien so that he could obtain a personal benefit amounting to $6.86 million.”

A Pokies 101 guide is available at this link: it describes how the Class 4 gambling sector in New Zealand operates.


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