A 48-year-old Sydney man has been charged with using inside information to bet on the outcome of five Australian of the Year awards.

Police will allege that Christopher John Shannon used inside information from a Commonwealth employee for a betting purpose on six occasions, ultimately knowing who the award recipients were before placing bets on the outcome.

The bets are alleged to have occurred on the awards between 2017 and 2021, including biomedical scientist Alan McKay-Sim in 2017, quantum physicist Michelle Simmons in 2018, and Craig Challen and Richard Harris in 2019 who assisted in rescuing a young soccer team from a Thai cave.

The allegations also include betting on sexual assault survivor advocate, Grace Tame to win in 2021, and Young Australian of the Year, entrepreneur and medical student, Isobel Marshall in the same year.

In a media release, police stated that Shannon received a total of $7,542 from betting $1,767.

The matter was first listed at Downing Centre Local Court on 16 January, where it was adjourned for two weeks to return to Manly Local Court on 30 January 2024.

His lawyer informed the Court that it was likely that Shannon would apply to have the court deal with his matter on mental health grounds at a future date.

Australian Federal Police Commander, Stephen Nutt noted how ‘detecting and disrupting major financial crime based on inside information was a key priority of the AFP and its partner agencies.’

“Unlawful use of inside information undermines the integrity of events betting and disadvantages those who play by the rules,”said Commander Nutt.

The charges came after the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission provided a report to the Australian Federal Police about betting irregularities in the 2021 Australian of the Year awards.

Commander Nutt explained: “the AFP, ACIC, Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) and other agencies are constantly on the lookout for suspicious activity on betting and other accounts and can act swiftly if criminal activity occurs.”

This commenced ‘Operation Maridun’ in February 2021 ultimately leading to Shannon being charged with six counts of using inside information for betting purposes contrary to section 193Q.


Cheating at Gambling Offences: Using Inside Information for Betting Purposes Offence Under section 193Q Crimes Act NSW

In New South Wales, Part 4ACA of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) outlines the offences related to ‘cheating at gambling’.

The offences were introduced in 2012 by the Crimes Amendment (Cheating at Gambling) Act 2012 (NSW), following recommendations by the Law Reform Commission in response to growing online betting markets for Australian sports and various high-profile incidents of match fixing.

Section 193Q criminalises the use of corrupt conduct information or inside information for betting purposes. The prosecution is required to prove that:

  1. You possessed ‘inside information’ or ‘corrupt conduct information’ in connection with an event,
  2. You knew or were reckless as to whether the information was ‘inside information’ or ‘corrupt conduct information’, and
  3. You bet on the event, encouraged another person to bet on the event in a particular way, or communicated the information to another person who you knew or ought reasonably to have known would or would be likely to bet on the event.

If the information is considered ‘corrupt conduct information’, a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment is applicable. This means information about conduct, or proposed conduct, that corrupts a betting outcome of the event.

Conduct will be deemed to ‘corrupt’ a betting outcome of an event if it:

  • affects or would likely affect the outcome of any type of betting on the event, and
  • is contrary to the standards of integrity that a reasonable person would expect of persons in a position to affect the outcome of any type of betting on the event.

However, where the information is considered ‘inside information’, a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment is instead applicable.

Inside information is defined as information that is not generally available, that is of a kind that if it were generally available it would or would be likely to, influence persons who commonly bet on the event in deciding whether or not to bet on the event or making any other betting decision.

Information will be considered generally available if it is readily observable by the public, or it has been made known in a manner that would, or would be likely to, bring it to the attention of the public.

This also includes deductions, conclusions or inferences made or drawn from such information.

Published on 14/02/2024

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AUTHOR Poppy Morandin

Poppy Morandin is the managing law clerk and an integral part of the team of criminal lawyers at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia . She's also a part of CDLA's content article production team. Poppy is passionate about law reform and criminal justice.

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