Queenstown Sevens pioneer Anderson arrested for its alleged fraud

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Arrowtowner Richie Anderson, originally responsible for getting the National Sevens to Queenstown, is the man arrested for an alleged $80,000 fraud of the event. 

Anderson, 50, was bailed by police after his arrest yesterday (Wednesday) and is scheduled to appear in Queenstown District Court on Monday. 

In a statement yesterday detective Matt Jones said the arrested man faced two charges of using a document to obtain a pecuniary advantage and four charges of causing loss by deception – and that the charges related to the organising of the popular annual sevens event. 

The offences allegedly occurred between January 2009 and December 2010. 

Anderson, one of fewer than 10 members of the Sevens with Altitude committee, was almost singlehandedly responsible for bringing the event to Queenstown for the first time in 2004. It has been staged in the resort at the Recreation Ground annually ever since and attracts crowds of 3000 to 4000 each day of the weekend that it’s held.

Anderson was the operations manager on the committee till about two years ago. 

The charity behind the sevens distributes money to sporting groups in the Wakatipu and Otago-Country area, like the local ice hockey club which did the ground clean-up after this year’s event. 

Sevens with Altitude chairman Clark Frew says the committee is devastated by what’s happened. 

“We’re a group of guys who do a lot of hard work to try and benefit rugby in the Wakatipu region and wider Otago-Country area and to have this happen is absolutely devastating for us. 

“We ran the event this year. It happened without the person before the court being involved. It was a very successful tournament,” Frew says. 

Queenstown has the hosting rights for next year’s event but the New Zealand Rugby Union is offering other regions the chance to express interest in hosting it from 2014 onwards.