Whistleblower ordered to end media crusade
A whistleblower has been barred from continuing a mischievous media campaign against his former employer, while he is sued for leaking documents that exposed alleged money laundering through NSW's poker machines.
Troy Stoltz - a former compliance auditor with ClubsNSW - last year spoke out about a widespread and "alarming" failure to comply with money laundering laws in pubs and clubs across the state.
ClubsNSW is now suing him in the Federal Court for a breach of confidence, arguing Mr Stoltz disclosed confidential information to advance his own commercial interests and secure a job with competitors.
Lawyers for ClubsNSW say Mr Stoltz has since waged an "inflammatory media campaign" against the organisation, and has wilfully misrepresented the court proceedings in the hopes of pressuring it to drop its lawsuit.
"I never anticipated I would be financially and reputationally ruined by reporting a crime to my employer, ASIC and politicians," Mr Stoltz is quoted as saying in a Guardian Australia article from June, tendered to the court as evidence of his crusade.
ClubsNSW submits Mr Stoltz has claimed the organisation is a corporate bully attempting to gag a whistleblower, is trying to bankrupt him as revenge and is also trying to silence the media.
"We want to make it clear at the outset that the applicant is not seeking to suppress or silence media coverage of this case," barrister Christopher Withers SC had told the court.
"And nor is the applicant seeking to restrain the first respondent from speaking publicly about the topics of gambling or money laundering.
"What the applicant's concerned about ... is a litigant seeking to use the media to put improper pressure on another litigant ... (which) may well amount to a contempt of court."
ClubsNSW has been forced to adopt additional security measures, at significant cost, in part because of the threatening messages it has received following Mr Stoltz's media activities, its lawyers said.
They sought that the court block Mr Stoltz from backgrounding or publicly commenting on ClubsNSW's motives for the lawsuit or its conduct during the proceedings.
His publishing or distribution of any correspondence received from the solicitors acting for ClubsNSW must also stop, they argued, as must statements "calculated to intimidate, harass, or otherwise bring improper pressure".
Mr Stoltz did not contest the evidence of his media campaign, but argued that no injunction should be granted.
Although unconvinced of the need for the several, broad orders sought, Justice David Yates in a judgment handed down on Wednesday agreed an order was needed to curtail Mr Stoltz's "mischief".
He also noted Mr Stoltz has not at any point during the proceedings actually advanced any legal, whistleblower protection claims.
"Mr Stolz has sought to generate the public narrative, through the media, that the applicant has made its claims ... as nothing more than an act of retribution - to 'bash' a whistleblower," Justice Yates wrote in reasoning.
"The evidence suggests that the object of this conduct has been to arouse not just sympathy for Mr Stolz's cause, but also to foment public condemnation of the applicant.
"Dispute as to whether ... the applicant is entitled to take these steps is a matter which should be resolved by the court, not outflanked by pressure brought to bear ... by the court of public opinion."
He made an order restraining Mr Stoltz from making statements about the conduct of ClubsNSW or its solicitors which are calculated to intimidate, harass, or otherwise bring improper pressure on the organisation.
Mr Stoltz is also suing ClubsNSW, launching defamation action and a workers compensation claim alleging that he suffered a psychological injury arising out of his employment.
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