More arrests as racing scandal mounts

There were more arrests yesterday in the alleged race-fixing and drug supply scandal that has rocked the New Zealand harness racing industry.

Eight harness racing identities and two people linked to the racing industry have been charged with either connection to race-fixing or drug supply, leaving many in racing shaken and stunned.

Police announced the arrests of seven people yesterday morning.

Six more raids were conducted by police yesterday under warrants issued as part of Operation Inca - an investigation into alleged race-fixing and the supply of drugs by some of harness racing's most prominent names.

Another three arrests were made later in the day.

Operation Inca went public on Tuesday after the first 11 of a total of 17 search warrants were executed.

Police carried out nine search warrants on stables and properties in Christchurch, one in Invercargill and another in Manawatu.

The Canterbury-based trio arrested yesterday appeared in the Christchurch District Court later in the day.

A 30-year-old trainer appeared on drug-dealing charges and unlawful possession of a restricted weapon.

Judge Tony Couch refused an application for name suppression, but counsel Andrew McCormick immediately indicated he would appeal the decision to the High Court.

The man has interim name suppression until 4pm tomorrow to give his lawyer time to file an appeal.

He was remanded on bail without plea to September 26.

A 49-year-old Christchurch man also facing drugs charges made no plea and was remanded on bail to September 26. He was granted interim suppression of name and occupation.

Elie Sawma, a 42-year-old from Christchurch, has also been charged.

He faces seven allegations that between May 28 and July 20 this year, he supplied the class-B controlled drug MDMA.

He also faces a charge of possessing MDMA and, on June 28, offering to supply the class-A drug cocaine.

Sawma was remanded on bail by consent to October 4.

They appeared in the same court as promising young driver Matthew Anderson earlier yesterday.

Anderson (26), of Woodend Beach, 25km north of Christchurch, faces a fraud-related charge,

details of which are subject to an interim suppression order.

He is also accused of supplying a class-B controlled drug.

He will be back in court next Tuesday when four men aged 34, 40, 41, and 44 are due to appear on match-fixing charges.

A 41-year-old woman is due to appear the same day on two counts of supplying class-B drugs and a 47-year-old man will appear in Palmerston North District Court charged with deception by match-fixing.

Police began working on Operation Inca last April after receiving information from the racing integrity unit (RIU).

Police used phone surveillance to collect evidence from five people alleged to have been involved in race-fixing.

They have been charged with being involved in or profiting from race-fixing, which is listed in court documents as match-fixing.

By noon yesterday, nine people charged as part of Operation Inca were banned by the Racing Integrity Unit from entering any racecourse in New Zealand.

''In view of the serious nature of the charges the police have laid, the Racing Integrity Unit has taken action under the Rules of Harness Racing to exclude all those charged by the police from entering a racecourse to attend race meetings, workouts and trials,'' the unit said in a statement.

No harness racing participants from Otago or Southland have been arrested.

-Additional reporting from NZME


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