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Melbourne Storm rorts topped $3 million
The Melbourne Storm has been found to have breached the NRL salary cap by over $3 million.
Accounting firm Deloitte has confirmed the Melbourne Storm's breaches of the NRL salary cap are nearly double what owner News Limited predicted.
The audit, commissioned by News, has concluded that the club's breaches tallied $3.17 million from 2006 until the end of this season, a figure some 80% higher than the initial estimate of $1.7 million.
The Deloitte investigation said the Storm would be $1.3 million over the cap in 2011 with their current roster of stars.
News Limited boss John Hartigan, speaking at a press conference in Sydney, said the club was almost $1 million over the cap this year alone.
Hartigan said the Storm had no choice but to accept the penalties handed down by the NRL, which included the stripping of two premierships and playing for no points this season, stating âin our view there is no alternative but to accept the club not play for points this season.
"These are tough penalties that affect many people in the Storm family who have done absolutely nothing wrong.
"The club spirit has been outstanding and I thank them for it.
"In our view however, the investigation has confirmed that while the penalties are extremely tough, they are warranted."
Hartigan said the actions of a few "rats in the ranks" had caused the club to be stripped of the premierships.
"Our original suspicion was that there was an elaborate and well orchestrated deception by certain senior managers at the club and that has been confirmed by the Deloitte report," Haritgan explained, adding that "a small group of senior managers orchestrated and concealed the extra payments.
"All up the investigation has identified five managers either directly involved or were involved in transactions that resulted in the breaches.
"They are Brian Waldron, Matt Hanson, Paul Gregory, Peter O'Sullivan and Cameron Vale.
"Waldron, O'Sullivan and Vale no longer work at the club.
"Of these three, only Vale cooperated with the investigation. Hanson cooperated in a very limited way. Hanson and Gregory remain at the club but were suspended from duty after 22nd April."
Hartigan confirmed that Deloitte's findings would be referred to the police.
"Is it fraud? That's something for the police to decide and we are referring the findings to them," Hartigan added, explaining that the futures of the five managers named were a matter for the Storm's board.
"My position is clear: there is no place for them in our club. Together, the five people I've named had senior responsibility for commercial financial operations of the club.
"There is evidence in certain cases, some of these people worked together to cover their tracks so that others and the club and certainly the NRL salary cap auditors couldn't trace payments.
"The methods they used were deliberately designed to deceive others, cheat the system and avoid detection."
Hartigan said the Storm's independent directors had been removed because of the legal action they have launched against the NRL.
Hartigan said none of the current players agreed to cooperate with the investigation, but that coach Craig Bellamy did and has been cleared of any wrongdoing.
22nd April 2010 - MELBOURNE STORM SCANDAL STUNS RUGBY LEAGUE
13th January 2010 - STORM’S WALDRON JOINS MELBOURNE’S REBELS
24th March 2008 - CALLS FOR NRL TO EXPAND
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