ClubsNSW is expected to drop a legal bid to force the state’s gaming regulator to hand over correspondence with a whistleblower who alleged there was widespread money laundering through the pokies.
Last year, Troy Stolz, a former anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing manager at ClubsNSW, blew the whistle on what he said was the sector’s glaring failure to stop money laundering in pubs and clubs across New South Wales.
The powerful lobby group has since sought a subpoena in the federal court to access any communications between Stolz and Liquor and Gaming NSW, the regulator that oversees the industry. The regulator’s website guarantees that such correspondence will be kept confidential.
Stolz has previously told Guardian Australia the ClubsNSW action would scare future whistleblowers and prevent them from coming forward. But on Tuesday, Stolz said lawyers for ClubsNSW were preparing to inform the court it would no longer proceed with the subpoena.
“This is a massive backdown by ClubsNSW and a win for whistleblowers,” Stolz told the Guardian. “This would have been a test case and a precedent to establish whether a whistleblower has protection by giving information to a regulator that is in the interest of the public, whilst piercing the [armour] of a confidentiality clause they may have signed in a contract with their employer.”
Stolz last year launched his own action against ClubsNSW, alleging bullying, sham contracting, underpayment and other breaches of the Fair Work Act. Those allegations will be vigorously defended by the industry group.
ClubsNSW is also counter-suing Stolz for an alleged breach of confidentiality. That case relates to the alleged handing of a confidential ClubsNSW board paper to independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie. The document reportedly said the sector’s compliance with money laundering laws was “at best at 5-10% for the approximately 770 clubs in NSW that are full reporting entities”.
Stolz denies he breached the confidentiality of his former employer.
Wilkie was refused a request to table the document in parliament in February 2020. That prompted him to accuse the government of “running a protection racket for the gambling industry”.
ClubsNSW and Liquor and Gaming NSW were approached for comment.
Stolz previously said the legal battle with ClubsNSW had cost him $250,000.
“It’s taken its toll, no doubt, but I’ve still got some wind in the sails,” he said in February.
“We need more people to come out, not less people to come out. If Liquor and Gaming decide to start releasing information that is promised as confidential reporting portals, if they start releasing that information … no one is going to come forward with the threat of being sued.”