Top harness racing driver allegedly involved in race fixing
Police were still questioning Jack and the other arrested industry insiders on Sunday night.
The police operation was triggered by sensitive betting activityВ involving a race in June last year, which stewards and police suspect may have been fixed.
The inquiry has been examining whether a small number of harness racing industry identities have engaged in ‘cheating in sport’ offences, including manipulating a race to effect a betting outcome. Those found to have breached the laws can faceВ serious penalties, including jail terms and large fines.
Harness racing is regarded as the poor cousin of thoroughbred racing,В with the smaller prize pools and a racing format that may make itВ easier for cheats to target. But certain figures known to police float between harness and thoroughbred racing.
It is understood harness racing investigators have worked with police on the inquiry that prompted the arrests on Sunday. Harness racing has reformed its anti-corruption unit as part of a push by racing minister Martin Pakula toВ improve integrity measures across all three racing codes.
The inquiry was led by Victoria Police’s Sports Integrity Unit, whichВ was set up by chiefВ commissioner Graham Ashton several years ago amid warnings that the huge growth inВ online and sports betting, including inВ underground markets, posed aВ major risk to Australian sport.
It is the only full time anti-sports corruption police taskforce in the nation.
The unit has led several major probes since its inception, including anВ operation that uncovered match fixing involving a semi-professionalВ Victorian soccer team, the Southern Stars, and an inquiry into suspected corruption on the professional tennis circuit.
In 2015, detectives from the unit arrested and charged two leading harness racing figures, father and sonВ team Shayne and Greg Cramp. The pair later avoided jail terms whenВ they pleaded guilty to race fixing offences and received 12-year bans from the sport.
The Cramps were superstars of the sport in Victoria, although theyВ were also suspected by many industry insiders to be corrupt. AfterВ they were arrested and suspended, there was an increase in betting onВ races in which the Cramps’ usually competed. The increase in bettingВ suggested punters had more confidence in the sport with the pairВ removed.
Nathan Jack’s alleged misconduct has been previously analysed by detectives. Fairfax Media has uncovered information suggesting Mr Jack may have previously passed racing tips toВ big Victorian gamblers, including a bettingВ syndicate led by underworld identity PaulВ Sequenzia.
SequenziaВ isВ well known to thoroughbred, harness racing and AFL integrity investigators as he has close ties toВ insiders in all three codes and is suspected of using insideВ information to punt. В There is no suggestion Sequenzia has any connection to the arrests on Sunday.
Victoria’s Racing Integrity Commissioner,В Sal Perna, said the arrests underscored howВ Victoria’s approach to detecting alleged sporting corruption is working.
“There will be instances from time to time that cause sportingВ controlling bodies to raise suspicions with the police, who then conduct separate investigations. This is a great example of how the sports integrity system should work.”