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Rugby sevens tournament hit by fraud

Published: 6:11AM Thursday March 22, 2012 Source: Fairfax

The chairman of the committee behind a high-profile national rugby tournament said yesterday he was devastated by the fraud charges laid against another Queenstown organiser.

Police charged a 50-year-old Queenstown man with allegedly defrauding the annual rugby sevens tournament of $80,000.

The Pub Charity Rugby Sevens tournament is run by the Sevens with Altitude committee, a group of rugby enthusiasts based in the Queenstown-Lakes district.

The committee also ran the high-profile Classic All Blacks v France match this year.

Sevens with Altitude chairman Clark Frew said it had been an emotional time for the organisation.

"We're very saddened by what's happened," Frew said.

The group had been "devastated that the trust of a charity organisation" had allegedly been broken.

The tournament was run by local rugby enthusiasts and for the past nine years it had been a success, he said.

As a nonprofit organisation, the proceeds were given back to the Otago rugby community.

Frew declined to comment further but said organisers were aggrieved and "a lot more" would come out in court.

Detective Matt Jones, of Queenstown, said the arrest followed a lengthy investigation.

The man faces six charges - two of using a document to obtain a pecuniary advantage and four of causing loss by deception relating to organising the annual Pub Charity Rugby Sevens.

The offences were alleged to have happened between January 2009 and December 2010.

The man was bailed to appear in the Queenstown District Court on Monday. Police said they would make no further comment because the matter was before the courts.

The sevens tournament is an annual fixture in Queenstown, attracting national talent scouts and widespread media coverage.

After this year's contest, which attracted a 4000-strong crowd, the New Zealand Rugby Union decided to offer hosting rights by tender from 2014.