Racing Integrity Commissioner’s Review of Damien Oliver Investigation

Racing Victoria (RV) has welcomed today’s tabling in State Parliament of a report into its 2012 investigation of jockey Damien Oliver’s betting rule breach and thanked the independent Racing Integrity Commissioner, Sal Perna, for his work in preparing the report.

Mr Oliver was disqualified for eight months and suspended for a further two months on 20 November 2012 after admitting to placing a $10,000 win bet on rival horse Miss Octopussy at Moonee Valley on 1 October 2010.

RV wrote to the Commissioner on 14 November 2012 asking that he:

a) conduct a review of the powers of the RV Stewards to investigate the Rules of Racing;

b) make recommendations to clarify the Rules of Racing, particularly AR193, in relation to the Stewards’ power to stand down licensed persons before charges are laid; and

c) make recommendations in relation to any change that could be made to provide the Stewards with better access to information (including police information) in the course of investigations in order to better promote and protect the integrity of Victorian racing.

The Minister for Racing subsequently requested the Commissioner to generally review RV’s handling of the matter.

RV welcomes the Commissioner’s findings that:

a) The investigative panel took a professional and methodical approach to its investigation;

b) there was no interference by RV senior management or Board members in the investigation;

c) the investigation was not deliberately protracted; and

d) the penalty imposed on Damien Oliver was reasonable in the circumstances.

The report’s finding that the investigative panel was too conservative and cautious in deciding not to stand Damien Oliver down prior to him making admissions and being charged is a view not shared by RV.

RV Chief Executive, Bernard Saundry said, “We welcome the findings of the independent Racing Integrity Commissioner that the panel appointed by Racing Victoria to investigate Damien Oliver’s betting breach acted professionally and without interference from our Board or senior management.

“We also welcome the Commissioner’s finding that the penalty handed to Damien Oliver was reasonable giving consideration to precedence and the facts of the case.

“We note, but do not share the Commissioner’s view that Damien Oliver should have been stood down before the investigative panel laid any charges.

“We accept the investigative panel’s view that had they stood him down at that stage, then he would likely have been able to overturn that decision on appeal. Such a decision would have also carried a substantial risk of him escaping conviction.

“We fully support the Commissioner’s recommendations in respect to improving the lawful and effective sharing of information with Victoria Police; establishing a dedicated sports related crime or corruption investigation resource with Victoria Police; and extending the Commissioner’s investigative powers.

“We commend Premier Napthine for his commitment to implement these recommendations and note his statement requesting the urgent implementation of the Commissioner’s recommendation regarding further changes to the Rules of Racing pertaining to stand down powers.

“A process is already underway with the Australian Racing Board (ARB) to formulate a new national rule that provides clarity on stand down powers for all states and territories. The Commissioner’s recommendation will be carefully considered as part of that process.”