“Sick to my stomach”: dying whistleblower tells Court in case against pokies lobby ClubsNSW

by Callum Foote | Dec 6, 2022 | Business, Latest Posts

Money-laundering whistleblower Troy Stolz is in court this week against pokies lobby group ClubsNSW. Whistleblowers David McBride and Jeff Morris were there to support him. Callum Foote reports.

Troy Stolz has finally got his day in court this week. Along with YouTuber Jordan Shanks, the former compliance officer – who is dying of cancer – is subject to a private criminal prosecution by powerful clubs pokies peak body ClubsNSW.

Stolz is also suing ClubsNSW for defamation after he blew the whistle on the lack of compliance with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism finance laws.

The Federal Court heard on Monday that on November 2019, after Stolz left ClubsNSW, the organisation sent an email to all CEOs and directors of clubs with which it was associated.

The email labelled Stolz incompetent and Stolz’s lawyers say that this was a deliberate attempt to ruin any chance he had at future employment in his industry.

Taking the stand, Stolz said that upon reading the email “I just sunk in my chair, I felt sick to my stomach. I was devastated, I felt that they had destroyed my career”.

The action didn’t take Stolz by surprise though: “I’d seen it happen to other employees that left the organisation”.

“It made me feel angry, I even stayed on an extra seven weeks to help them,” he said.

Stolz also gave evidence that the email would be seen throughout the industry, with ClubsNSW lawyers being ordered to provide a list of its recipients.

The Court was told Stolz left the organisation in 2019 after he allegedly experienced extreme bullying and harassment by his former manager Jim Terry.

In 2020, Stolz provided journalists and Independent MP Andrew Wilkie with a report that showed up to 95% of clubs in NSW were “operating illegally” when it came to following anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws.

Stolz’s disclosure had led to a NSW Crime Commission investigation into money laundering in clubs, finding billions of dollars of dollars laundered through poker machines in pubs and clubs every year in NSW.

Pokies Thuggery: ClubsNSW lobbyists hammer critics, hide their own dirty laundry

Stolz lawyers Xenophon Davis, the law firm representing whistle-blower David McBride and the FriendlyJordies team, gave their opening statement and Stolz took the stand for the first time.

The case is primarily a defamation proceeding, however, Stolz is also seeking compensation under workplace laws for unpaid annual leave, and superannuation alongside aggravated damages because of bullying and harassment that Stolz claims he was subject to both during and after his tenure with the organisation.

Stolz alleges that his manager at ClubsNSW exerted undue pressure on a company that contracted Stolz’s work after he left the gaming body.

Stolz’s lawyers alleged that ClubsNSW engaged in a campaign to discredit him and even went as far as threatening the owner of Initialism, a company that hired Stolz to undertake anti-money laundering compliance work, that they would cease to do any work with any organisation that hired him.

This led to Initialism dropping their contact with Stolz’s company the Court heard.

A tangled web

The judgement, expected to be handed down by Justice Goodman, is complicated by ClubNSW’s separate action against Stolz. ClubsNSW has brought proceedings against Stolz alleging that he acted illegally when he handed over information to journalists and politicians in 2020. 

ClubsNSW alleges that Stolz was acting for his own commercial gain rather than as a whistleblower.

In November 2021, Stolz was restrained from speaking publicly about the case in any manner calculated to “intimidate, harass, or otherwise bring improper pressure”. ClubsNSW alleges Stolz breached the order during an interview with FriendlyJordies this year and is seeking contempt proceedings, including jail time, be brought against Stolz and Shanks.

Whistleblowers unite

Two other whistleblowers David McBride and Jeff Morris were in attendance at yesterday’s proceedings.

McBride is a former British Army major and Australian Army lawyer who gave the ABC confidential information about war crimes committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan and is being prosecuted in the ACT Supreme Court. He faces 50 years in prison if convicted.

Jeff Morris first blew the whistle on misconduct in the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s financial planning arm in 2008 and again in 2013, resulting in a senate inquiry into ASIC.

The hearing continues today and is expected to finish next Tuesday.

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Callum Foote was a reporter for Michael West Media for four years.

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