Former Racing Queensland boss Bob Bentley fears criminal charges following Queensland Racing Inquiry

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FORMER Racing Queensland boss Bob Bentley fears he will face criminal charges after the racing inquiry informed him they plan to make adverse findings against him.

Mr Bentley has sent to the Queensland Racing Inquiry a lengthy statement of more than 30 pages supplementing his evidence defending his role as head of the industry’s peak body for most of the past decade.

Mr Bentley had already told the $3 million inquiry – which reports to the State Government in three months – that his staff faced verbal abuse from members of the racing fraternity as Labor headed toward an expected loss at the 2012 state poll.

The former Queensland Racing Limited chairman has also revealed in his latest statement there was at least one threat of physical violence.

“The racing industry is fickle and many saw a possible change of state government as an opportunity to settle what were perceived to be old scores,” he wrote.

“I recall one occasion in the carpark at Deagon when (a staff member) had to deal with a greyhound trainer who was wielding a piece of four by two (wood) and threatening to smash the doors of the office.”

Mr Bentley faced a string of allegations put to him by counsel assisting James Bell, QC, during the inquiry but he denied any wrongdoing.

Among the more serious allegations was that Mr Bentley had a conflict of interest in relation to a contractual arrangement between a QRL subsidiary, Product Co., and gaming giant Tatts on racefield information alleged by Mr Bell to have cost the Queensland industry more than $91 million in lost revenue.

In his statement, release by the inquiry, Mr Bentley confirmed he had received a letter from the inquiry last October 10 that he may be subject to adverse findings, including that he may have committed a criminal offence.

The alleged offence relates to “improper communications” with several groups of people.

“I am aware that my solicitors have asked the Commission to clarify precisely what is being alleged but that the Commission has refused to do so,” the statement says.

“In the absence of this sort of detail (bearing in mind that I am notified that a finding may be made that I have likely committed a criminal offence) I cannot meaningfully respond … other than to deny I had inappropriate communications.”

In relation to the alleged conflict of interest, he again stated that he had done nothing wrong because he had not been a member of Product Co’s board and he took no part in decisions relating to the contractual arrangements of Tatts.

Solicitors for former Bligh government Racing Minister Peter Lawlor have also made a written submission to the inquiry that Mr Lawlor should not be subject to criticism in the final February report.

Mr Lawlor, along with other Labor Racing Ministers, was alleged to have failed to exercise sufficient oversight of various racing bodies.

The submission said Mr Lawlor had not received a notification he could be subject to adverse findings in the February report.

“It follows therefore, no criticism of adverse reflection can, or should be, made against Mr Lawlor by the Commission of Inquiry.”

The State Government is refusing to comment on the inquiry until the February report is released.

Michael Madigan

The Courier-Mail

October 30, 2013 1:00AM

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