NSW Independent MLC Justin Field has hit out at Clubs NSW after the peak body launched legal action in the Federal Court seeking correspondence between a whistleblower and Liquor and Gaming NSW, the state’s poker machine regulator.
The Sydney Morning Herald today reported that Clubs NSW sought the subpoena after questions last year in the NSW Legislative Council by Mr Field to the State’s Finance Minister Damien Tudehope about money laundering in NSW clubs who operate the largest share of the state’s 90,000 poker machines.
The NSW Government has previously indicated as much as 20% of money going through NSW poker machines could be linked to organised crime.
The whistleblower, Mr Troy Stolz, who is a former anti-money laundering compliance auditor for Clubs NSW, is also being sued by the peak body. Clubs NSW details in their subpoena that it believes Mr Stolz “may have disseminated confidential information” to Liquor and Gaming NSW “contrary to his post-employment restraints”.
Independent NSW MLC Justin Field said, “When an industry goes after whistleblowers like this, it suggests to me that they’ve got something to hide. We’re getting to a point where we should be having a deep dive commission of inquiry into the pokies industry in this state.
“The reputation of the gambling industry is in tatters after the Crown inquiry and the demonstrated links with organised crime and money laundering. We know those links also exist in the clubs and pubs sector because of the huge number of poker machines across NSW that collectively see almost $90 billion fed into them each year.
“We would never have had a Crown inquiry without whistleblowers who were prepared to come forward with evidence of illegal activities.
“This Clubs NSW legal action, if successful, would have a chilling effect on whistleblowers who want to come forward to the regulator and shine a light on the links between poker machines and money laundering.
“It looks to me like Clubs NSW could also be using this legal action as part of an effort to frustrate the push to introduce a gambling card to address the money laundering risk in NSW clubs by tying up the regulator in court.
“The government should vigorously resist these legal tactics by Clubs NSW and protect whistleblowers like Troy who are shining a light on illegal activities in the pokies industry,” Mr Field said.