Police raid ten harness racing properties as part of alleged race-fixing investigation

The ongoing investigation into alleged race-fixing within the harness racing industry began in April last year, police have revealed.

Police raided harness racing stables and dwellings at 10 properties across the country on Tuesday. 

Search warrants were executed on eight properties in Christchurch and one each in Manawatu and Invercargill as a result of the long-running probe into alleged corruption within the industry.

The Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) sparked the investigation by supplying information to police.

People would be arrested and charged on Tuesday afternoon, National Manager Criminal Investigations Detective Superintendent Tim Anderson says.

It is possible other charges relating to doping could be laid, he says.

Further details involving the investigation will be released later this week. 

Sources told Newshub at one Christchurch property, eight police arrived and immediately put the property into lockdown.

Police are currently speaking with a number of people.

"Today's warrants were the result of a long-running investigation by the National Organised Crime Group into alleged corruption within the harness racing industry,"  Detective Superintendent Anderson says.

"Police take such allegations very seriously and are committed to working with the relevant bodies to ensure New Zealand sport is corruption-free."

Racing Minister Winston Peters says he's deeply disappointed to hear of 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," Mr Peters says.

"It highlights how important it is that we have a strong, independent authority like the Racing Integrity Unit to ensure offending behaviour is brought to light. We can have confidence that the system is working."

Police were at this Rolleston property on Tuesday morning conducting a search warrant.
Police were at this Rolleston property on Tuesday morning conducting a search warrant. Photo credit: Newshub

Harness Racing New Zealand chief executive Edward Rennell was informed by the RIU of the raids.

"The integrity of harness racing is of paramount importance. These allegations are serious and very concerning.

The RIU and police have the full support of Harness Racing New Zealand to ensure the industry's integrity is maintained.

New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) chair Glenda Hughes says while the allegations are disappointing they show the racing integrity system is working. 

"The value of having an independent integrity body focused on investigating and prosecuting any alleged impropriety is reinforced in this action," Ms Hughes says.

The New Zealand Racing Board runs the TAB.

"Those involved in the industry and the Kiwi punters who support it must have confidence in the integrity of the sport," NZRB chief executive John Allen says.

"I am confident that our integrity systems work and that where alleged breaches of our rules and of criminal law are identified, they are investigated and prosecuted appropriately."

Police have been working in partnership with the RIU and other relevant organisations throughout the investigation.

Anyone with relevant information towards this investigation are urged to contact police on harness@police.govt.nz or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.