Cleary unwitting investor in alleged punting scam
NRL superstar Nathan Cleary has emerged as an unwitting investor in a failed horse racing syndicate linked to the accused mastermind of an alleged multimillion punting scam that targeted high-profile Queenslanders.
The NSW Blues and Penrith Panthers halfback is listed as a shareholder of JWM Racing, which is being investigated by the NSW police Organised Crime Squad as part of a probe into an alleged 'pyramid' punters club called Equilay.
As revealed by the Sunday Mail last week, the scheme allegedly targeted prominent punters including Channel 7 sportscaster Pat Welsh, former Brisbane Lord Mayors Graham Quirk and Jim Soorley and ex-Wallabies coach John 'Knuckles' Connolly.
They were among big names on a hit-list of potential investors in Equilay after their betting account details with a corporate bookie were allegedly leaked.
Scores of ordinary Queenslanders allegedly lost up to $500,000 each in Equilay, allegedly run by Tim Kelly, previously known as Tim Magnus.
Police raided Kelly's Mudgee home in May and charged him with nine counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception, after a Casino and Racing Unit investigation into allegations of 'large-scale fraud'.
Cleary could join the list of alleged victims after becoming a shareholder in JWM Racing, along with others including his uncle, former NRL player turned finance broker Josh Stuart.
There's no suggestion they knew anything of Kelly's alleged fraud.
Company records reveal that Cleary invested almost $20,000 in the horse breeding and racing syndicate, whose sole director is listed as Kelly's partner Monique.
A JWM power point presentation given to police encourages investors to 'join us on the adventure of a lifetime … (by) investing in the experience and talent of Tim Kelly'.
JWM is believed to have folded, with its website shut down and its Instagram account inactive.
Police are understood to be investigating links between Equilay and JWM.
A Queensland schoolteacher said he and his family, including two sons, had lost tens of thousands of dollars after investing about $500,000 in Equilay and JWM Racing.
The man said punters were receiving up to $10,000 each in dividends a week 'for basically doing nothing' until the money suddenly stopped rolling in late last year and police were called in.
"It was a hell of a ride there for a while - we all thought we were going to retire," he said.
"It was all very convincing until we stopped getting paid."
The charges against Kelly, who was granted Supreme Court bail earlier this year on strict conditions, including a ban on betting and wagering, will be mentioned again in Mudgee Local Court next month.
Kelly could not be contacted and his lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.
Originally published as Cleary unwitting investor in alleged punting scam