Munce put tips-for-bets plan to businessman, court told

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 February, 2007, 12:00am

Jockey pleads not guilty to charge of conspiracy to receive an advantage

Australian jockey Christopher Munce gave racing tips to a businessman in return for placing bets for him, from which he pocketed more than HK$500,000 in winnings, a court heard yesterday.

The District Court was told the well-known rider - barred by Jockey Club rules from betting himself - had given tips on horses he rode in 36 races between December 3, 2005, and July 2 last year, of which 18 had won and several others had placed. The winners included Easy Game, Good Nature, Super Honey, Down Town and Chater Silk.

The 37-year-old jockey, represented by barrister John McNamara, pleaded not guilty before Judge Kevin Browne to one charge of conspiracy to accept an advantage.

Prosecuting barrister John Dunn said Munce had conspired with three businessmen - Andy Lau Wai-ching, Dinesh Kumar Daswani and Kamal Govindram Daswaney - to carry out the 'tips-for-bets' scam.

Mr Dunn said the advantage involved the businessmen placing bets on behalf of Munce, who would receive winnings for supplying the information and riding his mounts to produce the desired outcomes.

He said the scam began after Munce asked Mr Daswani in November 2005 if he could find someone to bet on his behalf.

Mr Daswani had agreed, but said he would need some tips first.

After Munce had given him tips on two horses, which ran second and third, they made an arrangement whereby the jockey would give the tips to Mr Daswani, who would pass them on to Mr Lau and take a 30 per cent commission on any winnings, Mr Dunn said.

From December 2005 to May last year Mr Daswani had paid Munce about HK$220,000.

In June, Munce met Mr Lau at a hotel in Kowloon, in a meeting observed by ICAC officers. Mr Lau had appeared to be trying to persuade Munce to deal with him directly and cut out the middle man.

About the same time, Mr Lau had called Mr Daswani, saying he had lost heavily recently and wanted to end their arrangement, Mr Dunn said.

Not wanting to lose out, Mr Daswani made a new arrangement under which Mr Daswaney, his uncle, would place the bets and not charge any commission. Munce received about HK$20,000 under this arrangement.

Mr Dunn said that on July 3, Munce and Mr Lau met at the Royal Garden Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, where Mr Lau was seen giving the jockey a grey bag.

The pair were later arrested separately and Munce was found to have HK$250,000 in cash, which he said was a going-away gift from Mr Lau.

Mr Daswani told the court yesterday he had got to know Munce through another jockey, Corey Brown, and on December 2, 2005, had discussed the betting arrangement.

'I said to [Munce] that if we go through this, I would like to take a cut of 30 per cent. Chris agreed,' Mr Daswani said.

He had then arranged for Mr Lau, whom he had known for about two years, to bet on Munce's tips.

'Chris gave me the names of horses. We discussed and came out with a figure. The figures varied in accordance to Chris's confidence in the horse,' Mr Daswani said.

Mr Lau would give him money if the horses won and he would then pass the money to Munce after deducting 30 per cent, he said.

Jockey Club stipendiary steward Kim Kelly told the court that club rules forbade jockeys from giving out tips. 'If jockeys give out tips for racing, it will undermine the integrity of racing,' Mr Kelly said.

Munce was retained by the club and paid HK$15,000 for each ride by the horse owners, Mr Kelly said. The jockey could also receive 9 per cent of the prize money for winners and 4.5 per cent if he placed second to fifth.

The hearing continues today.