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Rid pokie funds of feudalism, says Bradford

Rid pokie funds of feudalism, says Bradford

Some private charitable trusts distributing pokie proceeds are operating a fiefdom of favouritism and cannot be trusted to distribute pokie money equitably, said Sue Bradford today.

The Green Party Gambling spokesperson today tabled an email in Parliament originating from the General Manager of the Lion Foundation, Mark Forshaw, which Ms Bradford believes shows what is wrong with the current distribution system.

The email to the National Business Review responded to a series of articles written by NBR Investigations Editor Jock Anderson exposing irregularities and inequities in the manner of how pokie funds were distributed.

Included in the email were statements that every application from organisations with links to the NBR would be declined.

"The threats contained in this correspondence prove what we've been saying all along," said Ms Bradford. "It supports our belief that these supposedly charitable trusts can pick and choose their friends and recipients of pokie money with very little public accountability.

"This money comes from the most damaging source of problem gambling. We must make sure that this money is available to public organisations to do as they see fit, not just doling it out to whoever curries favour with the pokie lords."

The email states: "Rest assured that every application received by this organisation for gaming machine proceeds from any charity directly or indirectly associated with NBR will be declined."

"In this email he appears to be operating the Lion Foundation like a feudal warlord, dispensing favours to those who kow-tow to him, and cutting off potentially more worthy recipients in the pursuit of vendettas."

In response to Ms Bradford's question in the house, calling for amendments to the Responsible Gambling Bill, Trevor Mallard admitted he was aware of "widespread corruption".

"The Responsible Gambling Bill must be amended to safeguard public money against these corrupt and inequitable practices and to ensure that the distribution occurs through bodies which are totally accountable to the public," said Ms Bradford.

A copy of the email will be circulated following this release

Copy of email attached to Green Party Media Release 'Rid Pokie funds of feudalism, says Bradford'

PLEASE NOTE: Private addresses and email formatting have been removed

Subject: Charity Fraud - NBR of 1/3/2002

Nevil

I have never before read an article in a supposedly responsible publication with as much by way of blatant lies, untruths, distortions, misrepresentations and innuendo as Jock Anderson's article entitled "Regulator warns of rife 'charity' fraud" in your tabloid dated 1 March 2002 (under the circumstances, it's appropriate that its printed in tabloid format).

It is unfortunate that he has not substantiated his article as that would have provided the grounds upon which a libel suit could have been successfully brought. Does he know what "investigative journalism" actually is or is he yet another under-qualified, under-paid and frustrated wanna-be journalist trying to build a career through sensationalism, regardless of the truth, on the backs of others - in this case, the thousands of people working hard to raise funds for the community and support a myriad worthy causes?

Did he ever consider asking one of the national trusts such as the one I represent for some comment. Obviously not, or the record could have been straightened and his article would not have had the sensational impact it did (I wonder, therefore, why he chose not to seek such input?).

How could the NBR then publish such material?

Have you not realised that Judith Collins used NBR against the regulator of the charity sector, Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), due to the Casino Control Authority (of which she is Chairperson) proposed to be disbanded under new legislation, with its duties and responsibilities largely to be taken over by DIA?

What gaming industry source could have possibly suggested that operators could be "skimming well in excess of $100m" as this is impossible?

What does he know about how the charity sector really works?

Does he know about GST returns, IRD audits, 20% tax on gross revenue in addition to GST payment? Does he know any of the procedures and systems we use to ensure that there is neither the possibility nor opportunity for any major fraud to take place?

Where did he get his figures that the casino and gaming machine industry is an "estimated $5 billion a year" business? This is ridiculous.

What signs indicate that the "dodgy element has aready moved to protect its black market income?"

It's laughable that he writes "Part of the reason for such a huge increase... crooked operators declaring more money to keep the heat off themselves". I beg your pardon? Clearly, Jock Anderson is remarkably short of IQ, any command of the English langauge and business acumen (strange for a business orientated, or meant to be, tabloid). He is completely ignorant and confused about the sector but has the nerve to write the garbage anyway (and then you publish it)!

Massive fraud. Any evidence? Network of sham "sports and social clubs", etc. Come on, investigative journalist, name some! That's a challenge I'm sure.

I could go on throughout the article but you may well not read this anyway. Even if you do, I'm sure you will believe him rather than me. Similarly, if you're only interested in selling newspapers, then you probably don't care how many lies you propagate or how many people you hurt in the process. Still, if the second planned article in this series is as good as the first, you will no doubt be fine as it will be completely absent of specifics and substantiating facts (those aren't needed for journalism nowadays, are they?). But, rest assured, if you print one lie that relates to this organisation or any of its members, it will be our true delight to see you in court.

On behalf of the thousands of people who work very hard to raise funds for the NZ community, who operate in a completely honest and transparent manner and who may not be able to reply directly to your publication, shame on you and NBR. It is with relief that I know I can at least affect you directly, albeit in a very small way. Please direct your subscriptions department to cancel our subscription to your tabloid. Rest assured that every application received by this organisation for gaming machine proceeds from any charity directly or indirectly associated with NBR will be declined (including all organisations and events which you sponsor - clearly, no such organisation could wish to be associated with a corrupt system in cahoots with organised crime). We will further use all our power to discredit NBR and Jock Anderson and to adversely impact advertising revenue and sales. We can't hurt you as much as you've hurt all of us but maybe we'll help to stop you do the same to someone else.

Yours in disgust

Mark Forshaw General Manager and Trustee The Lion Foundation A Gaming Machine Charitable Trust

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