Race fixing investigation: Seven banned from racecourses

Seven people facing charges relating to alleged harness racing match-fixing have been banned from every racecourse in the country.

The Racing Integrity Unit has announced those facing criminal charges will also be charged with committing serious racing offences.

"In view of the serious nature of the charges the police have laid, the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) has taken action under the Rules of Harness Racing to exclude, all those charged by the police from entering a race course to attend race meetings, workouts and trials."

The statement, issued this afternoon, is the first public address the RIU has made since Operation Inca went public.

Earlier it emerged Harness Racing New Zealand's fields for races at Addington and Winton in the coming days show horses usually driven by three high-profile drivers will be driven by other drivers.

It is understood three more harness racing properties in Canterbury have been raided as part of Operation Inca.

Police were unable to confirm the raids took place and said the status of their operation would be updated later today. 

Just hours after his home was allegedly raided and his computer was a person of interest at the centre of Operation Inca won a race in USA.

The driver won a race in Pennsylvania this morning (New Zealand time).

The win came just hours after it is believed his property was search as part of Operation Inca.

The Herald reported yesterday police searched his home and truck and took away a computer.

Police are yet to respond to Otago Daily Times enquiries about the status of overseas persons of interests in Operation Inca. 

Meanwhile the New Zealand Herald reported that a mid-winter harness race in Nelson is at the centre of a police inquiry into alleged match-fixing - with allegations at least one of the drivers manipulated the result.

Charges have been laid in relation to Race 11 at Nelson on June 8, which was won by Storm Prince, driven by champion driver Blair Orange.

Another driver in the event has been charged with manipulating the result of the race - and causing losses to the betting public and other race participants.

The charge is laid under the Crimes Act and carries a maximum penalty of up to seven years in prison.

That driver's horse was considered one of the pre-race favourites - he has been accused by police of not attempting to win.

That driver is due to appear in the Christchurch District Court this afternoon.

There were 11 horses in the race, part of a two-day Nelson racing carnival in June.

Police have confirmed seven people have been charged in relation to an investigation into alleged race-fixing in the harness racing industry.

A 26-year-old man is due to appear in Christchurch District Court today on charges of deception by match-fixing, possessing Class B drugs for supply, and supplying Class B drugs.

Four men — aged 34, 40, 41 and 44 — are due to appear in Christchurch District Court on Tuesday 12 September on match-fixing charges.

A 41-year-old woman is due to appear the same day on two counts of supplying Class B drugs.

A 47-year-old man has been charged with deception by match-fixing and is due to appear in Palmerston North District Court, also on Tuesday 12 September.

Police yesterday conducted nine search warrants in Christchurch, one in Invercargill and another in Manawatu.

Earlier story

Operation Inca began after the police organised crime group started investigating allegations of race-fixing after it received information in April from the racing integrity unit, which regulates race meetings.

That led to swarms of police yesterday raiding several properties in Canterbury, one in Manawatu and one in Invercargill, run by trainers Kirstin Barclay and Paul Ellis.

Ms Barclay believed she was interviewed because she regularly used some of the horsemen at the centre of the investigation to drive her horses.

''I have got absolutely nothing to hide. They were not interested in me.''

Ms Barclay's recent training statistics show she trained the winners of 11 races with 186 starters last racing season.

That strike-rate is considered modest compared to the big name trainers at the centre of the allegations.

Detective Superintendent Tim Anderson told media yesterday he expected charges would be laid yesterday afternoon.

However, last night, police were unable to confirm if anyone had been arrested.

Det Supt Anderson said the investigation was not just limited to race-fixing and could include cases of horse-doping.

''It is possible that other charges could be laid, in regards to [drugs], but it is too early to say.

''We treat race fixing as a very serious offence and that is why our police organised crime group have been involved.''

Det Supt Anderson said police wanted to hear from anyone with information about race-fixing, asking them to come forward.

''We expect to speak to more people as part of that investigation.''

Harness Racing New Zealand chief executive Edward Rennell said the raids came as a shock.

''The integrity of harness racing is of paramount importance.''

New Zealand Racing Board chairwoman Glenda Hughes said allegations of race-fixing were disappointing but showed ''the racing integrity system is working''.

Racing Minister Winston Peters said he was deeply concerned by the allegations.

''This is a sad development. New Zealanders need to have confidence that the racing industry has integrity and is not above the law.''

 - additional reporting by NZME.

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