Racing Victoria launches betting audit of developer and local councillor embroiled in IBAC inquiry

Racing Victoria launches betting audit of developer and local councillor embroiled in IBAC inquiry

Victorian horse racing authorities have launched an investigation into the betting behaviour of multi-millionaire developer John Woodman and local councillor Geoff Ablett, two men at the centre of a corruption watchdog inquiry.

Key points:

  • Racing Victoria launched its investigation into the betting accounts of Cr Ablett, Mr Woodman and the director of Spicer Thoroughbreds after they were raised in IBAC hearings
  • On Monday, Cr Ablett told the hearing he had “no idea” why Mr Woodman did not put his name to a $10,000 deposit into Cr Ablett’s account
  • Cr Ablett, a former VFL footballer, said he would have declared a conflict of interest if he had been aware of Mr Woodman’s interest in a project before council

The Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) is investigating allegations City of Casey councillors received bribes from Mr Woodman in exchange for favourable votes on planning decisions.

On Monday, Cr Ablett — a former Hawthorn VFL footballer from the famous Ablett family — told the inquiry he did not know why Mr Woodman deposited several thousand dollars into his bank account or why it was done under a false name.

He also defended as legitimate Mr Woodman’s payment of tens of thousands of dollars to him to look after a racehorse that never ran, an arrangement described by IBAC’s lawyer as “patently ridiculous”.

The inquiry has previously heard Mr Woodman would funnel monthly $5,000 payments to another Casey councillor, Sam Aziz, through Spicer Thoroughbreds.

Mr Woodman claimed Cr Aziz was working for Spicer Thoroughbreds to procure racehorses for Chinese buyers.

Last week, Racing Victoria asked bookmakers to audit the betting accounts of Cr Ablett, Mr Woodman and Brad Spicer, the director of Spicer Thoroughbreds.

When contacted by the ABC, Racing Victoria declined to reveal the specific details of the audit.

“Where there is a matter of public interest regarding licensed or registered racing participants, our integrity department will regularly seek to garner information to determine whether there is or has been a threat to the integrity of the sport,” a spokeswoman said.

“Where appropriate, this includes requesting information from other parties, including wagering service providers, to ensure that the integrity department are appropriately informed and can consider whether they need to proceed with a formal investigation or inquiry.”