'Chief rat' escapes fraud charges - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

'Chief rat' escapes fraud charges

By David Beniuk 06/05/2011 05:04:34 PM Comments (0)

The Melbourne Storm salary cap scandal's "chief rat" and his accomplices have escaped fraud charges, but police say they could still face action by other investigators.

Victoria Police said on Friday they would lay no charges over the $3.1 million rort, adding it would be more suitably handled by "other regulatory agencies".

Former Melbourne chief executive Brian Waldron - famously described as the scandal's "chief rat" by club owner News Limited's boss John Hartigan - and high ranking Storm officials Matt Hanson, Paul Gregory, Peter O'Sullivan and Cameron Vale were reportedly at the centre of the police investigation that began last July.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the Australian Taxation Office and Victorian Office of State Revenue all began their own investigations into the Storm rort.

"Victoria Police understands other regulatory agencies have some jurisdiction in relation to the salary cap breaches and believe the criminal environment is not the most suitable way to prosecute this matter," a police statement said.

Victoria's Fraud and Extortion Squad did uncover the falsification of statutory declarations but said it would find it difficult to lay charges over those offences.

"After a long and thorough assessment, investigators have found no fraud related offences have been committed," the statement read.

"During the investigation police identified some offences relating to the falsification of statutory declarations.

"Some of these declarations were made outside of Victoria.

"We have decided not to pursue this line of enquiry as to do so would be extremely resource intensive and there is a high probability it would not result in any charges being laid."

New Storm boss Ron Gauci acknowledged the saga could yet dog the club, even after an administrative clean-out and a cap-compliant playing roster surging to third place on the NRL ladder.

"Unfortunately, probably so but if we just focus on what it is that this administration and the players are trying to achieve and focus on moving forward then we'll let others take their course," he told AAP.

"It won't derail what we're trying to achieve."

He said the club had moved on and had made progress earning back respectability.

"Both on and off the field our performance, as an administration and the team obviously on the field, has been well received by all of our stakeholders and we're pleased with progress," he said.

NRL boss David Gallop said the police decision only underlined why the league's penalties, which included two stripped premierships and fines of $1.6 million, needed to be severe.

"It's a decision for the police," Gallop said.

"We certainly weren't relying on that but it is a reminder of why the league's own penalties need to be substantial."

Gallop said the failure to lay charges over the false statutory declarations didn't set a precedent.

"We've seen people go to jail in NSW over false stat decs in recent times," he said.

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