Banned trio flags revealing lawsuits
THE prospect of three suspended NRL player agents fighting their bans in court has the potential to shed new light on the Melbourne salary cap scandal - including the complicity of others - and the validity of the cap itself.
The agents - George Mimis, Isaac Moses and David Riolo - are prepared to go to court over their six-month suspensions handed down yesterday by the Rugby League Accredited Player Agents Scheme committee following a meeting on Tuesday night.
After a long investigation, the committee found the agents had ''breached the rules of the scheme and the code of ethics for accredited agents'' during an investigation into their involvement in Melbourne's salary cap scandal, which led to the club being stripped of two premierships.
Another agent, Allan Gainey, was issued with a caution after pleading guilty. The three suspended agents, who have denied any wrongdoing, will appeal against the suspension and have also threatened legal action, which will no doubt be costly to the game.
There were suggestions during the investigations that the prospect of the agents heading to court to clear their names might lead to fresh information being made public about who else might have been complicit in the salary cap scandal. Executives from News Limited, which owns the Storm, have continually denied they had knowledge of cap breaches.
Yesterday, there were also suggestions court action might open the door to revelations of other salary cap breaches by clubs, bringing into question the validity of the cap.
In a statement released last night, Riolo and Moses, whose company Titan Management acts for Melbourne captain Cameron Smith, current player Ryan Hoffman and former player Matt Geyer, said they considered the procedure which led to the suspensions as ''fundamentally flawed'' and also maintained it was not transparent.
''We are disappointed in the findings … we deny any wrongdoing and are determined to do all that we can to demonstrate our innocence,'' they said.
''We are considering our legal options. We regard the procedure followed by the committee as seriously and fundamentally flawed - the committee did not conduct an independent investigation into the allegations against us, did not provide any reasons for its decision and refused to provide us with copies of documents that it had relied on to reach its decision.
''These factors, amongst others, amount to a denial of procedural fairness. We intend to exercise all our rights in that regard.''
Mimis, whose company SFX manages fullback Billy Slater, also suggested the possibility of legal action by saying ''I intend to take all steps open to me to have the decision set aside''.
''I have given a detailed account to the Player Agent Committee of the relevant dealings including co-operation with the Salary Cap Auditor [Ian Schubert] with his inquiries,'' Mimis said.
''I maintain my innocence throughout this matter and my innocence was supported by a statutory declaration given by the player as to the sequence of events.
''The committee's decision is, personally, a heavy disappointment.'' The decision is likely to have little impact on the players contracted to the agents, who between them serve a significant proportion of the players in the premiership.