Londonderry greyhound trainer and former Brett Lee studmaster, Harry Sarkis has been called to a NSW ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) Inquiry over the misuse of TAFE funds intended for public housing projects.
It has been alleged before the inquiry that Garrie Cooper used TAFE contractors to build an air conditioned kennel block for Sarkis at his Londonderry property in exchange for training Cooper’s 21 greyhounds.
Yesterday’s ICAC inquiry heard that work on the kennel at Londonderry continued for almost a year and included concreting, plumbing, air conditioning and tiling. The total value of the works has been estimated to be between $30,000 to $80,000.
The inquiry also heard that the contractors were paid for works, which occurred sometime between 2006 and 2007, by over inflating invoices to the TAFE for legitimate works.
Sarkis is no stranger to controversy, having been disqualified in 2005 for 5 1/2 years for 19 charges related to over utilising his stud dog Brett Lee and falsifying documentation. At around the same time Sarkis was involved in an on track incident at Wentworth Park after head butting another leading studmaster.
Sarkis’ 5 1/2 years disqualification was subsequently reduced to 3 years on appeal before the Greyhound Racing Appeals Tribunal, and ran from 8th January 2005 through to 7th January 2008. A period of time that fully encapsulates the time frame that building works were carried out on Sarkis’ property.
The inquiry heard that in 2006 Mr Cooper asked Mr Sarkis to train and board his greyhounds, valued at up to $10,000 each.
“An agreement was struck that Mr Cooper would undertake some construction work on an improved kennel, and in return, Mr Sarkis would train and board some greyhounds for Mr Cooper.”
Sarkis has allegedly given evidence before the inquiry that he has retired from the greyhound industry, but his partner Carolyn Reinke continues to train greyhounds and is a regular starter at NSW TAB tracks and the states metropolitan greyhound track, Wentworth Park.
The ICAC inquiry continues today with Cooper expected to give evidence.
ABC News Story courtesy of ABC NSW News