Suite à ses déclarations à Week-End, la semaine dernière, Paul Beeby, l’ex-Integrity and Compliance de la Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) a accepté de raconter et donner ses impressions de son passage au sein de cette institution et de son dysfonctionnement. Il dénonce la mainmise sur le GRA du Board Member, Dev Bheekarry dont l’objectif ultime, selon lui, est de détruire le MTC. Il pointe aussi du doigt le président de cette instance qui ne connaît rien aux courses et se rend aux conférences internationales comme des vacances aux frais du contribuable. Il explique comment les actions de ces deux dirigeants de la GRA favorisent et ressemblent fort à du favoritisme et donc constituent ds actes de corruption. Le Britannique souligne et tient à ce qu’on fasse comprendre aux Mauriciens surtout que « for me this is only about doing the right thing and exposing a Board and a system which acts corruptly and as a result the people of Mauritius and their favorite sport is suffering and being destroyed. This is not about politics or one-party scoring points over another. This is about integrity, honesty and telling my story ».
Many of our readers wants to know more on you after your comments last week. Will you give a quick insight of your life and career before coming to Mauritius?
— I was born in Newmarket the home of horseracing in the UK. I grew up watching racing with my Grandma who was an avid fan. At 13, I was running bets to the village bookmakers for my Nan. I would wait outside and get one of the locals to put bets on. She would always let me have a small bet too.
I joined the Police Force when I was old enough. I loved the concept of helping people and doing the right thing for the community. Fighting crime, corruption and integrity have always been a massive part of my life. In the Police Service I progressed to investigating serious and organized crime. Mainly drug trafficking using intelligence and some covert undercover tactics.
I was fascinated in intelligence led policing operations and became good at recruiting and using informants. People liked me, trusted me and knew I was straight. It was important to build relationships on integrity and trust – something I later discovered was missing at the GRA.
After 25 years policing, I left to follow a dream. I had always loved horse racing. I was a big fan and a regular racegoer. I joined the Jockey Club in London as an Investigator. The Jockey Club became the British Horseracing Authority, the independent regulator of all horseracing in the UK.
This in part is what the Parry Report had advocated and on reflection of my time in Mauritius is what is needed in Mauritius. Using my skills from policing, I became Head of Investigations, Head of Intelligence and then both roles were combined to become the Head of Integrity. I stayed at the BHA for 12 years where we built a model for integrity around an intelligence system and process. A big part of the model was our bet monitoring facility where we were able to live time monitor betting on all races in the UK – that covered 60 racecourses and about 1500 meetings.
We used the integrity model to gather intelligence so we could identify the main threats and risks to the business. Through bet monitoring we identified potential corrupters, investigated them and through the Rules of Racing convicted them. It is important to note we used the Rules of Racing.
How come you decided to travel and work in Mauritius?
— I became aware of the possibility of working in Mauritius at the GRA. It looked an incredibly interesting challenge so I applied for and got the job believing I had knowledge and experience take out the world to which would help me.
I arrived in Mauritius alone – my wife would not join me for about 8 weeks. I then started work at the GRA as the Head of Integrity and Compliance. This was a new role and Department. I had a mandate to develop the Department. I had intended using the BHA Integrity Model and the systems and processes we had developed there in order for Mauritius to also be at the forefront of regulatory authority.
How was your first weeks at the GRA? And this memorable first meeting with Dev Beekharry?
— The first few weeks were pretty busy learning about the GRA, MTC and other Government Departments and Stakeholders. Everyone seemed pretty friendly. I had lots of ideas and enthusiasm and at this point honestly believed I could and would make a difference. My how things would change!
In my first week I met Dev Beekharry. I’m not sure why I met him. He was only a Board Member but also someone that people seemed to fear. My first meeting with him was in his office at the Government Building. He was very clear on two things. The MTC was not doing it right, which I later realised meant they were not doing it the way he wanted and Paul Foo Kune was corrupt and needed catching.
He even suggested and offered phone taping of Foo Kune’s phone. I laughed and told him we needed to assess the problem first. Regarding Foo Kune’s competitor, Beekaarry’s protégé, Lee Shim, the instructions, within the GRA, were drastic: absolute silence so as not to upset « them».
So you confirm the real boss at the GRA was the board member Beekhary, not the chairman nor the Chief Executive?
— It quickly became apparent that Beekhary was actually running the GRA. Everything seemed to go through him, decisions were being made by him which affected the GRA and its business.
I want to be clear these were not always Board decisions. These were his own personal decisions and were made outside of Board Meetings which happened infrequently. By way of an example. If the MTC got to a situation where they wanted to split a race so in affect creating an extra race, he was the one always called. No one at the GRA was allowed to make such decisions and that was clear. This despite the fact that I was probably the most qualified and that quick decisions were needed based on the information available.
We had to go through a circus of phoning him. During 2019 the MTC made such an application on many occasions. They were all refused. It was absolutely clear to me that Beekharry wanted one thing and that was to destroy the MTC. Rules were not signed off. Directions were reviewed then immediately changed back by Beekharry to how he wanted them.
Some of these were absolute nonsense and did not in any way benefit racing. They appeared to have been put in place to advantage some and disadvantage others. Plans to conduct bet monitoring were also scuppered by Beekharry. There was no reason for this other than it was not on his agenda or those who were instructing him.
What about approval for foreign jockeys to ride in Mauritius?
— When a foreign jockey was hired to come to Mauritius to ride, all the applications would initially come to me. I never had a problem with a single application. In most cases the jockeys would have been a good for racing here.
Beekharry despite my recommendations would simply refuse them – I never saw the reasons for this, there probably were not any. The refusals were often for the same trainers. For example, if he had issues with a trainer, all the latter’s applications were simply refused. If Beekharry or those who worked with him or he was working for, saw someone as competition they would seek to inconvenience or disrupt them. It was scandalous, wrong and corrupt!
This same theory applied to horse sampling. Beekharry would pass on untested information for horses to be sampled. None of this could be backed up. It was often him trying to disrupt a trainer’s preparation in order to seek an advantage for someone else.
Again totally unethical and corrupt. He did this on more than one occasion. I refused to do it or allow it to be done. He overcame this by doing it on two occasions whilst I was out of the country. On one occasion I was still at the airport waiting to fly when he ordered some sampling to be done. Part of the reason they did not want me there as they couldn’t corrupt me and get me to do unethical things.
It was not a secret at the GRA that Beekharry was also taking some of his instructions from the son of a trainer of one of the main stables in Mauritius. There was a joke around the office that the GRA should be renamed.
What would you say of the board meetings of the GRA?
— I quickly became aware that the Board of the GRA was actually only three people. Everything went through either Beekharry first. Then the Chairman Dabidin and they were supported by a woman called Kautick who backed them up.
Very little business appeared to be conducted at the Board Meetings, but a great deal of pizza appeared to be consumed. In the days before a Board Meeting, the Chairman would review all the papers and decide which ones to take. Papers from my new department never seemed to make the list and anything affecting the MTC was invariably treated negatively.
The whole structure of the GRA was wrong but suited Beekharry and Dabidin. The GRA Board had all of the power but none of the knowledge. There is absolutely no doubt that Beekharry was being influenced by persons outside the GRA and through Beekharry they were getting what they wanted or needed. I have no doubt that this is why Beekharry was not interested in the recommendations of the Parry report because he could see he would lose the power to influence his own agenda.
The GRA or Beekharry should I say had total control. No decisions could be made without his consultation or knowledge. It was frustrating and an absolute joke. I was more than capable of making key decisions around horse racing so was the Chief Executive, Mrs Ringadoo, prior to Poonaswamy but we were not allowed. I told the CE that the Board could devolve some power to her through the act, but they refused to do so.
What about the MTC? Are the GRA critics against it justified?
— I can assure you that I don’t believe the MTC has got everything right. That said I was impressed by the way they organised racing. They certainly knew what they were doing but needed a little help.
I wanted to help and started to help them in a number of areas around investigation, biosecurity, anti-doping and a race day integrity coordination. I had a good working relationship with the MTC, and we were making some progress.
I was accused by Beekharry and Dabidin of spending too much time at the MTC. This is because I was making progress and they couldn’t see what I was doing or control me. One term that was used was ‘he’s at the MTC having coffee with the Whites’. Disgraceful racism from whoever said it.
Stewarding appeared to be an issue and I became aware that Stephane de Chalain was getting a fair bit of stick. I reviewed a few races and didn’t have issues. For me he was a fair and very competent Chief Steward who acted with total integrity.
On more than one occasion Beekharry attempted to influence stewarding decisions through applying unnecessary indirect pressure. This from a person whom I saw as an armchair fan at best and who never attended the races.
In fact, in my two-year tenure at the GRA not one single Board member attended one race meeting. That in itself is outrageous, these are people who could influence key decisions in the gambling sector, but none had so much set foot at the Champ-de-Mars on a race day. What does that tell you about the GRA Board – all of the power and none of the knowledge.
The Police des Jeux has never achieved anything big in its fight against corruption. Was the relationship with the GRA working?
— Another area I was struggling to understand was the relationship with the Police des Jeux (PDJ). This simply did not work and was a classic example of two organisations working in silos. The GRA simply sent all complaints relating to gambling to the PDJ – notwithstanding the Inspectors at the GRA had the power to investigate.
The PDJ were simply inundated with complaints. But they had no system to deal with them. No focus, no direction, no priorities and they were under resourced. The first time I was at their office at Line Barracks meeting some staff. A smartly dressed guy walked in, shook hands with officers and sat down. I asked who this was and was told Ashley Jankee the bookmaker. It was as if he was an old friend or owned the place. Perhaps he did?
I changed a few things with the number of reports that went to PDJ, but the relationship was never good. They simply worked in their own silo doing what they wanted. There were few meetings but no understanding of who or what the real threats to racing were. I wanted to help with that, but it appeared that their systems and procedures were bogged down with unnecessary paperwork. It simply didn’t work.
Furthermore, there was no real understanding of how to investigate a corruption offence and the points to prove in order to convict. However they appeared keen to learn and be trained.
How did you try to do the job anyway?
— I sought to conduct investigations myself. I knew what I was doing and how to investigate racing corruption and anti-doping. The legislation within the GRA is actually quite good. But its of no value if no one understands how to investigate. Cases were going to the PDJ and never getting to court or ever being heard of again. That is ridiculous and will not help racing. I decided to investigate first and use the Rules of Racing to convict as we do in the UK. Very few cases, if any, ever go to the Police in the UK. Jones doping was an example. It was fully investigated under the Rules of Racing and heard before the Stewards. At least this way persons can be dealt with for racing breaches and where necessary thrown out or excluded from racing. To be fair, there is still some work to do in this area and possibly on that case. I’ve said before racing needs an Investigative Steward to use the rules to investigate corruption. The GRA and PDJ are incapable, and this new role could make an impact.
Amongst others there was my investigations on the Zugi Zagi Zugi’s race fixing for which I gave to the police all the relevant information and the Rs 100 000 which was given to a person who participated in the plot. You heard at the previous Parliament session by the Prime Minister that —one year on— nothing happened yet. This is most disappointing and shows there is no real will to fix corruption in racing in Mauritius. You cannot have a situation where nothing has been resolved in a year! This is a high level racing corruption and need to be a priority.
You don’t seem to have been impressed by the Chairman of the GRA, OMK Dabidin?
— I got absolutely no guidance or support from the GRA Board. After my first year, Dabidin is quoted as saying he had no idea of what I did. That despite the tens of Board papers that were presented to him. He didn’t know because he didn’t ask or care.
I knew I was doing a good job and making an impact and didn’t give a jot what he thought. I never had any relationship with the Board. In fact, I suspect they found me irritating in that I was doing a job and they couldn’t control or influence me as I had integrity.
For me personally and for Mauritius and Mauritian Racing Dabidin committed the biggest act of betrayal in January 2020. I had worked hard to be accepted on to the Anti-Illegal Betting Task Force for the Asian Racing Federation. This is made of industry experts on betting from Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand who look at best practices to monitor and deal with corrupt betting.
It was an opportunity to put Mauritius on the map and use help and knowledge to combat illegal betting in Mauritius. My first group meeting would have been at the ARC in South Africa. Dabidin simply refused to let me join the group and what’s more refused to let me go the ARC in South Africa on my own expenses. I was the best-placed person from the GRA to attend and would have offered value to the Anti-Illegal Betting Task Force and the conference. It made no sense at all.
Guess who went to represent the GRA? Dabidin the man who didn’t go to the races and contributed nothing to racing, he took a GRA Inspector with him who I later removed from my team. Coming back from that trip there was not one report or de brief of any of the delegate sessions – so therefore nothing of any benefit for the GRA from those two attendees. Dabidin should be ashamed of himself – a nice holiday at public expense.
What would you say to the role of CE at the GRA?
— No decisions could be made without consultation or knowledge Of Mr Beekharry. It was frustrating and an absolute joke. I was more than capable of making key decisions around horseracing so was the CE, Mrs Ringadoo, but we were not allowed. I told the CE that the Board could devolve some power to her through the act, but they refused to do so.
The other thing that was clear is that the GRA had no internal management structure. Everything had to go through the CE. All the Inspectors had to go through the CE – they could not make one single decision themselves.
With a proper management structure and business model the GRA could have been a success, but Dabidin and Beekharry did not want that as that would not mean total control for those who used them to get what they wanted. Does that not sound like corruption to you?
What were your relationships with the CE Mrs Ringadoo…?
— I had a good working relationship with Mrs Ringadoo who was the CE when I joined. She was supportive and I believed had excellent vision for the GRA and was incredibly enthusiastic about my new role. I spoke to her frequently about how I was developing the new unit and shared my own ideas and thinking. I believed she was doing an excellent job under very difficult conditions at the GRA.
It quickly became apparent to me that things were not as straight forward as I hoped. The Board were clearly not on the same page as us and were reluctant to move on and change for the better. I put this down to certain Board members having a totally different agenda. Mrs Ringadoo could see my frustrations and continued to support me but I’m sure was having her own issues.
I was totally shocked to learn she had been replaced. This in itself was a totally disgraceful action by a cowardly Board. Mrs Ringadoo was in Europe attending a seminar, I believe in her own expenses. She was removed whilst away. Her office was shut down and large locks were put on to prevent anyone entering. I actually joked with people, ‘Has she murdered someone? I have never seen a room so heavily secured – appeared totally unnecessary. I noted a number of people at the GRA appeared to be happy and gloating at what was going on.
… and CE Mr Poonosawmy?
— I will never forget the 4th February 2020 .The replacement arrived. A guy by the name of Poonaswamy. He went around the GRA and was introduced. That pretty much was the start and end of my relationship with him. I am certain he was told not to engage with me by the Board.
He did not once call me to his office, he did not ask what I did, what projects I was running. He did not submit one Board paper relevant to changes or development in horse racing. He went behind my back in discussing integrity matters, he excluded me from meetings. He lied to me and told others at the GRA not to speak to me or work with me.
He purely worked to the orders of Beekharry. He didn’t answer my emails. It was at this time that a number of other people at the GRA schemed against me. This included the Head of IT, Head of HR and the legal officer along with a select group of inspectors. My life was made intolerable by these people and I have no doubt on the orders of Beekharry and Dabidin. Both of whom never spoke or communicated with me again.
So, you left Mauritius without any acknowledgement of your good work?
— On the day I left there was no exit interview or debrief despite Poonasawmy being in the next office not two metres away. He or the Board did not thank me or say goodbye.
As a result, valuable files went missing or were lost. Projects are unfinished and all the good that was started has been swept away. Beekharry and Dabidin have acted appalling and are responsible for the demise of the GRA and prevented progress and development at the MTC and with other stakeholders. I guess it suited their own corrupt agendas. They and management at the GRA are responsible for racial discrimination, bullying and sexism in the workplace. I reported this and nothing was done and nothing will be!