The NRL said today it has fined the South Sydney club $20,000 following its investigation into an incident in Arizona.
Chief Operating Officer Suzanne Young said the Rabbitohs club had met its obligations in advising the Integrity Unit about the incident involving Luke Burgess and John Sutton late last year.
However, the club had failed to follow the matter to its conclusion, which would have enabled it to notify the Unit that the charges against Burgess had been withdrawn after an agreement to pay compensation to the security guard involved in the incident.
The prospect of such an arrangement was raised shortly after the incident occurred and should have been disclosed to the NRL.
As a result, the Rabbitohs have been fined $20,000.
Ms Young said both Burgess and Sutton had already been disciplined by the Rabbitohs and no further action would be taken against them.
Ms Young said evidence to the investigation did not prove that any South Sydney official, including then CEO Shane Richardson, knew that a payment had been paid to the security guard involved in the incident.
However, the club should have been more diligent in ascertaining whether a payment requested by the security officer had been made by Burgess who was an employee of the club.
It should be noted that a “compromise agreement” is a legally acceptable way of dealing with offences of this nature in the State of Arizona.
“I should stress that the Integrity Unit relies on the clubs to provide reliable and accurate information about any incidents involving their players,” Ms Young said.
“If clubs withhold information or fail to disclose the full details they face sanctions – as we have seen in this case.”
Ms Young acknowledged that the initial investigation could have been handled better by the Integrity Unit.
She said new systems and processes would be put in place to help clubs fulfil their obligations for incidents – and improve the Integrity Unit’s processes to deal with such issues in the future.
Consistent with NRL processes, South Sydney now has the opportunity to make a submission regarding the preliminary finding.