Australian jockey pleads innocent in bribery scam

Australian jockey Chris Munce pleaded innocent at Hong Kong's District Court on Friday to allegations he accepted advantages in exchange for racing tips.

Munce, a former Melbourne Cup winner, is accused of conspiring with others to provide racing tips to a businessman, who allegedly repaid the favor by placing bets for Munce and relaying the winnings to him between December 2005 and July 2006. The winnings allegedly totaled 500,000 Hong Kong dollars (US$64,211; Ђ50,608).

Chief District Judge Barnabas Fung scheduled a five-day trial starting Feb. 12 and Munce posted bail of HK$100,000 (US$12,842; Ђ10,121).

The court has not imposed any traveling restrictions on the jockey, but he must give Hong Kong's anti-graft agency 48 hours' notice if he plans to leave the city.

Munce was arrested in July with six others, including four suspected illegal bookmakers and two alleged go-betweens.

Prosecutor Marco Li said he plans to present 28 pieces of evidence, including covert surveillance conducted on 13 meetings between Munce and other people.

Munce's lawyer, John McNamara, objected to one of the recordings because it was inaudible. Fung didn't immediately rule on whether the recording will be allowed, reports AP.

Munce is expected to fly to Sydney to compete in Saturday's Epsom Handicap meeting at Randwick Racecourse. He won Monday's CVD Cricket Club Handicap aboard the Paul Perry-trained Biscayne Bay.

He has won many of the biggest races on the Australian calendar, including the 1998 Melbourne Cup on Jezabeel, and Golden Slipper races on Prowl in 1998 and Dance Hero in 2004.

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