In a decision that makes stewards in this country look soft the Hong Kong Jockey Club has fined former Australian based rider Zac Purton the equivalent of more than $35,000 dollars.
The penalty was handed down after Purton failed to inform stewards that he was approached for tips by Cosma Fung Hok Cheung, a highly notorious punter.
He’s the same man who was involved with Chris Munce in the cash-for-tips scandal which saw Munce end up in jail.
Purton received a fine of $300,000 Hong Kong dollars for the breach although it’s noted that there’s no suggestion he acted on the proposition in any way.
Cosma Fung himself spent nearly two years in jail following the Munce saga and is a constant thorn in the side of Hong Kong racing.
The inquiry heard that Purton had arranged a meeting with Peter Fung, Cosma’s brother with the intention of securing a financial stake in a business unrelated to horse racing.
It’s said that Cosma also attended the meeting, in the middle of 2010, something which Purton was unaware would occur.
Being well aware of Fung’s past Purton refused his requests to establish a tipping / betting arrangement with striking similarities to what was in operation with Munce.
It wasn’t the only time he was approached though and in November of last year when he was again with Peter, Cosma raised the proposal again.
This time Purton was under the impression he was meeting an owner before it was Cosma who walked through the door.
Purton says he left immediately and the HKJC accepts that it was not his intention to become involved in talks with the punter.
“Jockey Purton stated that he had not had any contact with Cosma Fung since that time and had also refused to meet or speak with Peter Fung since that day as he was `disappointed that I’d been led to believe I was going to meet an owner and it was him (Cosma Fung) again after telling him (Peter Fung) numerous times that I don’t want to go down that path’,” the Hong Kong Jockey Club stewards’ said.
Both Cosma Fung and Peter Fung were called to attend the inquiry but they failed to show up on more than one occasion.
As a result both have been banned from all racecourses.
In handing down their penalty stewards said they took into consideration Purtons cooperation with the inquiry as well as the fact he had no previous history of any similar incident.
They stress the point that the fine was for failing to inform them of being approached and there is absolutely no evidence to suggest he entered into any betting arrangement.
Chris Munce was jailed for 20 months for his involvement with Fung back in 2007 where he was found guilty of taking bribes in exchange for tips.
While he served his time and has restarted a successful career in Brisbane, the ruling shows the disparity between penalties handed down oversees compared with our soft handed here.