by Metiria Turei
The National Government has grandstanded about standing up for victims. But given a chance to do something meaningful for the victims of gambling-related crime, they’re backing their mates at the Casino instead.
My Criminal Proceeds (Application to Casinos) Amendment Bill is a chance to protect New Zealand businesses from the harm of gambling crime. It is due to be voted on by Parliament tonight.
It would help ensure that money stolen from small business owners, and community organisations, is given back to them if its been shown to have been stolen to gamble at a casino.
Every year there are several cases where a gambling addict is convicted of stealing huge sums of money from their employer. The thief is jailed, the business destroyed, but the casino gets to bank the proceeds. That’s not fair.
When Richard Arthur Watson stole $5,495,000 from his employer to gamble, Skycity treated him as a VIP high roller.
My Bill says that if the casino should have been aware his gambling was likely to be as a result of crime, it can’t keep the proceeds.
The Government says there are existing laws that ensure that Casinos clamp down on money laundering and crime. There are, but none of those laws ensure the state can take the proceeds back off the casino if it doesn’t do that job properly.
ACT’s John Banks, who once railed against the “wide boys” at the casino (till they helped fund his mayoral campaign) reckons my Bill would only get the money off the casino, but not return it those it’s been stolen from.
He’s being disingenuous.
Anyone can apply for a an order to the court if they have a claim to some property. The trick, and my bill does this, is to get the property off the person it doesn’t belong to first.
A vote against my Bill today is a vote against small businesses and victims of gambling crime.