Top Australian jockey Zac Purton has been heavily fined by the Hong Kong Jockey Club after failing to tell them he was approached by the punter at the centre of the Chris Munce tips-for-bets scandal.
Purton was fined $HK300,000 – just over $A36,000 – by the Jockey Club for improper conduct in that he did not report the approach by Cosma Fung Hok Cheung to stewards.
However, Purton was not found guilty of entering into any improper or dishonest arrangement with Cosma Fung, who was jailed for 21 months over his involvement in the Munce case.
Purton told stewards he arranged to meet socially with Cosma Fung’s brother, Peter Fung, who he lent money to for a business venture not related to racing.
Unbeknown to Purton, Cosma Fung came to the meeting which occurred a couple of months before the end of the 2009-10 racing season.
Purton knew Cosma Fung’s background and refused the punter’s requests to enter into a tipping/betting arrangement.
Purton was approached by Cosma Fung a second time in November last year when he again went to meet Peter Fung socially.
His business associate told him an owner would be joining them but it was Cosma Fung who showed up.
The punter again asked Purton to become involved in a tips-for-bets arrangement.
Purton again refused the request and left.
“Jockey Purton stated that he had not had any contact with Cosma Fung since that time and had also refused to meet or speak with Peter Fung since that day as he was `disappointed that I’d been led to believe I was going to meet an owner and it was him (Cosma Fung) again after telling him (Peter Fung) numerous times that I don’t want to go down that path’,” the Hong Kong Jockey Club stewards’ report into the matter stated.
Both Cosma and Peter Fung have subsequently been warned off racecourses after failing to attend scheduled inquiries into the matter.
In issuing Purton’s penalty, stewards took into consideration his good record and his co-operation in the matter.
Their report stated that the evidence showed Purton had “categorically refused” to enter into any arrangement with Cosma Fung despite being “pestered”.
Munce, now riding successfully in Brisbane, spent 20 months in prison after being convicted in Hong Kong in 2007 of taking bribes in exchange for tips.