Two men sentenced for $6.9 million pokie fraud

The offending was detected during Operation Chestnut.

Two men have been sentenced after being found guilty in a multi-million dollar gaming machine fraud case, after manipulating gambling licences and grants.

The Wellington High Court sentenced Michael Joseph O'Brien, of Blenheim, to four years and six months imprisonment after he was found guilty of five charges of obtaining by deception. Kevin Coffey of Hastings, who has been found guilty of one charge of obtaining by deception, was sentenced to home detention for 12 months.

Paul Anthony Max, of Nelson, was found guilty of three charges of obtaining by deception in the same case, but won't be sentenced until July 27.

The offending was detected during Operation Chestnut, a joint investigation involving the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand, and the Serious Fraud Office, the SFO said in a statement, describing the investigation as a significant case for the Class 4 gambling sector which is made up of high-turnover gambling including pokie machines.

"The sentences imposed today reflect the very serious nature of the misconduct in this case," SFO director Julie Read said. "The proceeds from pokie machines, intended to provide community funding for sport, health, education and other activities, were directed to entities nominated by Michael O'Brien so that he could obtain a personal benefit amounting to $6.86 million."


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