The West

A Perth telecommunications millionaire has confirmed he is caught up in a Victorian race-fixing inquiry established in the wake of an unsolved murder.

Peter William Jones, a director of TSA Telco Group, was in Melbourne last week speaking to Racing Victoria stewards about allegations that he won $70,000 on a fixed race last year.

Mr Jones was convicted in 1998 after the discovery of a $100,000 drug crop in an Embleton factory unit.

A spokesman for Mr Jones said the businessman and horse owner denies any wrongdoing.

"Mr Jones was openly and co- operatively working with the stewards on their inquiries into these matters," the spokesman said.

The Age newspaper reported last week that Mr Jones' friendship with suspended champion jockey Danny Nikolic was of interest to racing stewards and Melbourne detectives, who are also investigating allegations of corruption in the racing industry.

The report said Mr Jones was among a group of Nikolic family friends and associates who collected winnings totalling about $200,000 after backing Nikolic's winning mount Smoking Aces at Cranbourne, Victoria, in April last year. "Mr Jones has also told the stewards and the inquiry that he has no other association with the Nikolic family outside of knowing the jockey," Mr Jones' spokesman said. "He knows the jockey because he has ridden some of his horses. He has fronted the inquiry and he feels the inquiry was satisfied with his evidence."

Allegations of race fixing surfaced during the police investigation into the murder of former horse trainer Les Samba, who was shot dead in Melbourne in February last year.

Mr Samba was a regular visitor to WA racing tracks in the 1990s until the WA Turf Club banned him over his association with notorious horse trainer George Way.

Nikolic, who was married to Mr Samba's daughter, was suspended from racing last week after Victoria's chief racing steward Terry Bailey complained to police that the jockey had threatened him.

Nikolic claimed he made a light-hearted comment to Mr Bailey.

In 2006, _The West Australian _revealed how Mr Jones set up the telecommunications company a month before the 1997 drug raid on the Embleton unit.

He pleaded guilty and was given a two-year suspended sentence.

At the time the court was told the hydroponic drug crop was a small-time attempt to alleviate Mr Jones' financial problems.

Mr Jones is the part owner of a horse called Bolton, which won another race that featured Nikolic - the $100,000 Victoria Cup - and is also under investigation by stewards.

with The Age

The West Australian

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