Queensland police have charged one man and flagged further arrests in a crackdown on race-fixing in the state’s harness racing industry.
It comes as its governing body insists most of those in the industry are honest and have a sincere passion for harness racing.
A 46-year-old licensed harness driver and trainer from Warwick has been charged with one count of match-fixing over his alleged involvement in a “loose cartel” operating in the industry.
His licence has been suspended.
Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner Ross Barnett says the cartel of drivers and trainers were involved in systemic race-fixing and changed their tactics from race to race.
“It’s not every race, it’s not every race meeting, but it’s not a rare event,” Mr Barnett said at a news conference on Friday.
He said more arrests were imminent.
Mr Barnett said investigators had received information from people in the industry who had been concerned “for some time” about improper behaviour.
But he said there was no evidence that organised crime groups were involved.
Investigators this week searched properties of five harness racing participants at Limestone Ridges, Warwick, The Gap, Logan Village and Redcliffe.
Detectives seized mobile phones, computers, documents and clothing.
The items will now be forensically examined.
Racing Queensland said it would monitor the outcome of the criminal probe and insisted most people in the sport followed the rules.
“The vast majority of people involved in harness racing in Queensland are honest, hard-working individuals driven by their passion for the sport,” chief executive Eliot Forbes said in a statement.
“We are working with them to ensure the code continues to grow in popularity and has the infrastructure needed to sustain that growth.”
The crime racing squad was set up in 2016 to investigate serious animal cruelty, race-fixing and major and organised crime across three codes of racing.
The offence of engaging in match-fixing conduct was recently added to the state’s criminal code and carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.