Richard Gibson: trainer pictured at Royal AscotPICTURE: Edward Whitaker
Gibson victim of €1 million internet fraud
HONG KONG-based trainer Richard Gibson has been the victim of a €1 million (£860,000) "complex internet fraud involving the transfer of money on a sale of a horse".
Gibson, who has won multiple Group 1s and sent out Gold-Fun to finish runner-up in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot last June, on Wednesday issued a press release to address the fraud.
"Following some reports in the press concerning my dealings with another owner, I wanted to put on record what has happened in the last three months which has put considerable stress on my family and business," Gibson said.
"In early September, my business became the victim of a complex internet fraud involving the transfer of money on a sale of a horse. The vendor, the agent, the buying owner, and myself were all victims of this complex internet fraud. Both the Hong Kong police and the Australian police are still actively involved in this case and that is why I am unable to disclose any further details."
According to reports in Hong Kong newspaper the South China Morning Post (SCMP), Gibson was given €1 million by an owner to purchase a horse through an agent in Ireland.
A source for the paper said: "Fraudster(s) posing as the agent sent fictitious emails [very similar to the genuine emails] to the victim and requested him to transfer €600,000 to a bank account in Poland and €400,000 into another bank account in Slovakia."
The SCMP report that €600,000 has been recovered, while "overseas law enforcers and banks are still in the middle of negotiations on the return of the €400,000".
Gibson, who hails from Northumberland, has had just two winners during the current season in Hong Kong and is last of 24 in the trainers' championship.
"This fraud has been a grave concern for me personally and has taken up a great deal of time with meetings and legal papers. It has not surprised me that my business has suffered as a result," Gibson added.
"It has also put a great deal of pressure on my family as the case involves significant sums of money. We have always acted with full integrity and honesty."
Jockey Club reaction
Tony Kelly, the Hong Kong Jockey Club's executive director of racing business and operations, said: "We are supporting Mr Gibson where possible and, through our contacts in law enforcement, the club has been able to put Mr Gibson in touch with the appropriate departments. We understand that, as a result, there has been a degree of success in recovering the money involved.
"However, our general stance is that this situation is a private matter between Mr Gibson and the owner involved."
Advice for British trainers
Rupert Arnold, chief executive of the National Trainers Federation said: "We don't provide any specific advice about online fraud as there is already a lot of guidance out there, but we have teamed up with Racing FX to promote a type of online banking which is very secure."