The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Pokie fraud accused in court

Four men charged with Crimes Act offences in relation to a multi-million dollar gaming machine fraud appeared in the Wellington District Court today.

The alleged offending was detected during Operation Chestnut, a joint investigation involving the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand (OFCANZ). The matter is being prosecuted by the SFO.

It is the largest criminal case in the Class 4 gambling sector.

The accused are: Michael Joseph O’Brien, 55, of Blenheim, Patrick Francis O’Brien, 80, of Blenheim, and Paul Anthony Max, 58 of Nelson.

The fourth man has been granted interim name suppression.

They all face charges of obtaining by deception.

Maarten Quivooy, General Manager Regulatory Services, DIA says: “Operation Chestnut has been a significant investigation in the Class 4 sector and we’ve welcomed the opportunity to work in partnership with the SFO and OFCANZ.

“While we cannot talk about the detail of the allegations while they are before the court, the charge of obtaining by deception is a serious offence.

“The criminal charges are just one aspect of the Operation and we’re working hard to use what we’ve learnt during the investigation to lift compliance in the sector.

“Pokie machine gambling provides over $250m to the community every year.

This funding enables organisations in our communities to provide a wide range of sports and important social, education and health services.”

The court case is ongoing.

A “Pokies 101” guide is available at this link:

It describes how the Class 4 gambling sector in New Zealand operates.