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Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

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Former publican found guilty after buying Audi with grant funding from pokies

Friday 18 November 2022

After an investigation by the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) Te Tari Taiwhenua, a former publican was found guilty in Auckland District Court.

Judge Winter ruled that, Hok Lai Ong, aged 66, also known as Simon Ong, had received $16,000 in Class 4 grant funding from Sport 4 Everyone (S4E) via his wife. The money was used by Mr Ong to purchase an Audi vehicle.

At the time of the offending Mr Ong was a C4 venue operator, operating pokie machines for the same C4 society that provided the grant funding to S4E to employ his wife as a Chinese Community Liaison Officer.

In his ruling Judge Winter wrote “There is no doubt that the transaction could reasonably be perceived as influencing decisions to be taken on the grant application made in favour of S4E.”

Dave Robson, Gambling Director at DIA, said “The Gambling Act criminalises the receiving of money in circumstances where that money could reasonably be perceived as a kick back in relation to grants.

“This verdict is a timely reminder of the need for participants in the C4 sector to avoid any potential conflicts of interest to ensure a level playing field.

“Where appropriate, we will continue to identify and prosecute conflicts to maintain the integrity of the gambling system.”

Mr Ong will appear on 24 February 2023 for sentencing at the Auckland District Court.


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Media Contact:
Media Desk - Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs
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