Australian Casino Employees Try To Cover Up Scam

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JUPITERS Casino bosses tried to cover up a $5.7m fraud at the venue and white-anted police investigations into the seven-year scam, a court heard.

The alleged scam involved not casino chips but sausages, along with other foodstuffs.

It involved corrupt casino staff and food suppliers creating bogus food orders and invoices for meat, smallgoods, dairy products, fruit and vegetables and seafood, Southport Magistrates Court was told yesterday.

The court was told the alleged cover-up went right to the top of casino management. Senior managers "scuttled" an initial police investigation by giving documents to defence solicitors and ridiculing whistleblowers, it was alleged.

Two former Jupiters employees, William Noel Partridge, 49, and Steven Michael Vergotis, 51, faced court charged with fraud, along with retired food supplier Alfred Andreas Rahn, 70.

Police prosecutor Douglas Bettany told the court the case involved the creation of more than 2000 false invoices which were used to defraud the casino of $5.7 million between 1993 and 2001. He said there were "known connections" between suspect suppliers and casino purchasing officers in what he described as a "systematic fraud".

Among the allegedly phantom food orders were almost $225,000 worth of breakfast sausages and, from another supplier, more than $1 million in butter, streaky bacon, turkey royale and fruit puree.

Sgt Bettany alleged management had tried to cover up a meat-ordering scam and fraud investigators were not called in until 2001.

One manager had dismissed the alleged fraud as "a storm in a teacup" and was overheard describing two whistleblowers as "arseholes and troublemakers".

Sgt Bettany said senior management was involved in compiling a false statement "in a deliberate attempt to prevent proper investigation".

The court was told the police major fraud squad began investigating in 2003 after charges brought by the casino crime squad were thrown out at a 2001 committal hearing.

Former fraud squad officer Jon Williamson told the court the casino's then-finance director had "scuttled" the first case by giving documents to defence lawyers.

Mr Williamson said he met resistance from Jupiters management when he began his investigations.

He had uncovered failings in the casino's internal control system through documents and interviews and "resisting opposition" from management.

Defence lawyer Jason Murakami, for Partridge, clashed repeatedly with Sgt Bettany and accused him of presenting "fantasy" evidence.

The hearing has been set down for two weeks.


Greg Stolz, Courier Mail

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