Report on ORFU confirmed

The Department of Internal Affairs has confirmed the existence of a commissioned report on the Otago Rugby Football Union's involvement with pokies, but continues to withhold the material.

The Otago Daily Times revealed last year the union was involved in buying three Auckland bars, with the intention of setting up its own pokie trust.

After that application was declined by the department in 2004, the bars were aligned to a different trust - The Trust Charitable Foundation (TTCF).

That trust was responsible for more than half of the $5.1 million in pokie grants given to the union between 2005 and 2010.

Last year, the cash-strapped union was on the brink of insolvency, due in part to a $200,000 shortfall in budgeted pokie grants, and questions were raised over the union's handling of grants.

At the time of finalising the union's recovery package, New Zealand Rugby Union officials confirmed there were ''potential issues relating to funds obtained from gaming trusts''.

Documents sourced by the union were given to Internal Affairs, and both organisations declined to publicly release information.

A source close to the inquiry has confirmed the information sent to Internal Affairs was compiled by Cascade Consulting, on behalf of the NZRU.

Last week, Internal Affairs confirmed the existence of the Cascade Consulting report, but declined to release it, on the grounds it would prejudice the supply of similar information from the same source.

''And it is in the public interest that such information should continue to be supplied,'' Craig Press, of Internal Affairs, said in a statement.

''I considered the public interest in the report and decided it was outweighed by the need to withhold it.''

A 2012 email from an NZRU official to an Internal Affairs senior manager following the release of the Cascade Consulting report, has since been obtained by the ODT.

The NZRU email asks for an ''assessment of likely DIA action in light of what the investigator came across''.

The ODT has lodged an appeal to the Office of the Ombudsman, for the release of the report.

- hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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