15 Jun 2017

Trio found guilty in multi-million pokie fraud case

1:01 pm on 15 June 2017

Three men have been found guilty on multi-million-dollar pokie machine fraud charges.

Michael O'Brien, Paul Max and Kevin Coffey faced a raft of charges relating to pokie licences granted by the Department of Internal Affairs, including obtaining licences by deception.

The fraud was one of the biggest of its kind in the country's history.

O'Brien dishonestly obtained pokie licences by getting others to set up companies to apply for them, and managed the proceeds through a company he set up, Bluegrass Holdings, for his own purposes.

He was found guilty in the High Court in Wellington on all five charges he faced, Max on all three, and Coffey was found guilty of deceiving Internal Affairs but not guilty of benefiting financially from the operation.

The three have been remanded in custody until sentencing, which will be on 13 July.

O'Brien's father Patrick O'Brien, a former New Zealand Harness Racing chairman, was originally facing charges, but was removed from the trial in its early stages due to serious ill health.