CONVICTED cocaine dealer has become a director of Queensland property companies that were once directed by flamboyant entrepreneur George Cheihk.

This bloke, a so-called multi millionaire crook cannot even maintain the cost of running his website it seems, some things never change.

Cocaine dealer director of Queensland property companies

A CONVICTED cocaine dealer has become a director of Queensland property companies that were once directed by flamboyant entrepreneur George Cheihk.

The companies have holdings including a $2.4 million building in Brisbane and land worth more than $10 million.

The convicted dealer, Joseph Frangieh, was appointed to seven companies on the same day in June that Mr Cheihk resigned after being declared bankrupt.

Joseph Frangieh

The news comes after it was revealed Mr Cheihk, whose companies once lavished money on Queensland politicians and sports teams, is listed in a record of creditors as owing $2 million to Mr Frangieh and his brother and fellow ex-convict Raymond.

Under corporations law, people convicted of offences involving dishonesty and punishable by imprisonment of more than three months are automatically disqualified from managing corporations for five years. Drug cases do not apply.

 Both brothers pleaded guilty in Parramatta District Court in 2003 to supplying cocaine.

Joseph was handed a sentence of two years and three months and immediately paroled.

Joseph the company director has denied being the same man as the convicted dealer despite business and court records linking the two.

Mr Cheihk said he did not know of or believe claims about the drug record.

Once noted on the BRW Young Rich list, Mr Cheihk is now an industry consultant.

His bankruptcy disqualified him from managing companies. In July, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission further banned him from managing corporations for three years over his role in four failed companies.

Mr Cheihk said he was trying to repay creditors and get the ASIC ban removed.

Joseph Frangieh, who also has had interests in NSW-based building companies, has declined to be interviewed.

Mr Cheihk said creditors including the Frangiehs were investors in property projects. Their investments had been made during the past two years.

Mr Cheihk said all money going into companies in the QLD Group, where he had been chief executive, had come from appropriate sources.

Dramatic crash of George Cheihk’s empire

BANKRUPT property entrepreneur George Cheihk, whose companies once splurged hundreds of thousands of dollars on Queensland politicians and top sports teams, is listed as owing $2 million to convicted cocaine dealers.

The convicted NSW dealers, named in a list of creditors provided by Mr Cheihk, are brothers whose father died in a violent drive-by shooting.

Mr Cheihk said he was unaware of any drug-dealing history for the brothers and did not believe The Courier-Mail‘s queries about them being the same people.

“If it is or it isn’t (them), at the end of the day, this is business,” he said.
Pledge to repay debts

Mr Cheihk said many creditors were investors in property projects and he was working on repaying them.
He said he was confident all money poured into his projects had come from appropriate sources.
“Every one of my investment partners – money came through banks. It was always wire-transferred through banks or borrowed against their homes,” he said.

Creditors include Joseph and Raymond Frangieh, who pleaded guilty to cocaine supplying charges and were paroled in 2003.
Their father Sayed was shot dead at his Sydney home in Merrylands West in December 2003.

His death was later linked in court to an earlier wild car chase involving Raymond Frangieh and another man.

Joseph Frangieh, who has declined to be interviewed, has denied being the same man as the convicted drug dealer. He also said he did not know what “you’re talking about” when asked if Sayed was his father or when the shooting was mentioned.
Business and court records link the convicted Joseph Frangieh to the creditor Joseph Frangieh. One of the creditor’s former addresses given in company documents is the same as where Sayed lived and was killed.

Mr Cheihk, who knew about Sayed’s death, said Joseph used to work in mobile phones with him.
He said Joseph introduced Raymond more recently and their investments came within the past two years.

Attempts to obtain comment from Raymond, beyond confirming his relationships with Mr Cheihk and Joseph, were unsuccessful.

In his heyday, Mr Cheihk was a BRW Young Rich lister who invited Lord Mayor Campbell Newman and Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale to his 35th birthday party at his Brisbane riverside home in 2004.

Cheihk-linked companies also donated more than $600,000 in cash and assistance to local Liberal and Labor parties and campaign funds in fiscal 2004.

Sponsorships from QLD Group, where Mr Cheihk was chief executive, went to teams including the Brisbane Broncos. Charities also received donations. But Mr Cheihk is now bankrupt and banned from managing corporations.
He grew up in NSW with his first job serving fast-food chicken. He headed a mobile phone dealership which was wiped out in the One.Tel collapse in 2001.

“We lost pretty much everything,” Mr Cheihk said in an interview this year.
But he was “lucky enough” to still own a home in southeast Queensland’s Pinjarra Hills at the time.
Using this to borrow money, Mr Cheihk said he invested in a property which was subdivided and sold for profit. This process was successfully repeated with investment partners, he said.

The QLD Group’s website says from 2003 it grew to “become a prominent state property developer (with) interests in the Brisbane Western Corridor”.

Mr Cheihk branched back into electrical goods in 2005 as one of a “white knight” group of investors in stockmarket-listed chain Strathfield.

Some white knights became Strathfield directors and included Mr Cheihk’s friend Warwick Mirzikinian.

Strathfield would shift its Queensland head office to a two-storey Indooroopilly building owned by GCP Properties, where Mr Cheihk was a director.
Strathfield did not disclose this as a related party transaction but Mr Mirzikinian last year said this was because “there was no charge for rent”.

The move proved temporary. Mr Cheihk said permanent relocation was considered but “the option to lease was never taken”.

Lawsuits herald decline

Problems emerged in late 2005 and last year with lawsuits hitting Cheihk-linked companies including:

• A Brisbane Lions action over an allegedly reneged sponsorship. Mr Cheihk argued the sponsorship had underperformed.
•The owner of the B105 and Triple M radio stations suing over almost $50,000 in “dishonoured cheques”. The bill was eventually paid.
By last year, QLD Group acknowledged “cash-flow” problems but argued these would be resolved via land sales.
Yet problems also came from corporate regulator the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

In October last year, ASIC action saw Mr Cheihk personally fined $4600 over problems with a company which he says he helped manage.

ASIC hit harder this July, banning him from managing corporations for three years.
“Mr Cheihk failed to assist the liquidator of Livesay Road Developments Pty Ltd and Mobile Hut Pty Ltd. Further, Mr Cheihk failed to pay statutory debts to the ATO in respect of Mobile Tron Pty Ltd, Livesay Road Developments Pty Ltd and Nobull Fones Pty Ltd,” ASIC said.
Mr Cheihk said he would seek to get the suspension removed.
But he does not always encounter difficulty. One liquidator and his bankruptcy trustee have said Mr Cheihk has been reasonably co-operative.
Debts remain however. One is with the Canterbury Bulldogs which in March announced action against the QLD Group for failing to fully pay for a sponsorship deal.

Mr Cheihk insisted the team would be paid next week. “I pay my debts,” he said.

Mr Cheihk also said QLD Group is “now healthy” with millions in unsold stock and strong sales.

The debt which bankrupted Mr Cheihk personally goes back to his mobile-phone days. That debt involved distributor Roadhound Electronics chasing almost $600,000.

Mr Cheihk said he was considering fund-raising to pay out creditors. He listed $15 million being owed to creditors and some of these are associates.

Despite bankruptcy, Mr Cheihk said he now drives an $80,000 7-Series BMW.

“I probably earn a lot more than most people and risk a lot more,” Mr Cheihk said

Change in fortunes as drug accused sells mansion for $10m

The palatial seven-bedroom, 12-bathroom riverfront mansion of troubled property identity George Cheihk has fetched almost $10 million at sale, just weeks after he appeared in court on assault charges.

PHOTOS: Inside Rivergum Retreat

Troubled property identity George Cheihk

Troubled property identity George Cheihk

Rivergum Retreat was built nine years ago and occupies a sprawling three-acre block on the banks of the Brisbane River in the western suburb of Fig Tree Pocket.

Listing agent Joshua Smith said few other prestige properties could compare to what most considered to be one of the city’s finest luxury homes.

Mr Smith would not reveal the exact final price paid for Rivergum Retreat, describing it as just under $10 million – significantly short of the $12 million asking price.

Still, the pre-Christmas sale is the second highest on record in Brisbane, behind the $11.2 million purchase price for a home in Hamilton last year.

It is expected to come as some comfort to Mr Cheihk, who appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court last month following an incident at the upmarket Zuri nightspot in Fortitude Valley.

Police alleged the once-bankrupt businessman held a knife to the throat of another patron and was found in possession of the drug MDMA, capping off a tumultuous period for the former corporate high-flier.

A number of real-estate agents have tried unsuccessfully to offload Mr Cheihk’s Needham Street property over the past two years, but Mr Smith and two colleagues from Brisbane Real Estate found a buyer in six weeks.

The new owner is an unnamed Brisbane millionaire businessman who will move into the home with his family, including several children, when the contract settles next March.

The pad offers all of life’s luxuries under one big roof, including a Gold Class-inspired home theatre, climate controlled cellar, championship tennis court, infinity pool and billiard room.

Four living wings are connected by a central entrance, with a number of formal and casual living areas as well as two offices spread around the residence.

“From the hub of the house is the family room, rumpus room and bar that flows out to the teppanyaki outdoor (cooking) area that overlooks the pool and river,” Mr Smith said.

“It literally takes 45 minutes to speed-walk through the entire house. I can’t think of another property of this size, on such a huge block and situated so close to the city – no other property can really compare.”

The agent said he was “pretty speechless” at the quick sales result, achieved in the midst of the global economic crisis and a softening in the property market.

“I don’t think I’ll beat a sale like this for some time,” he said.

“This is a great result for all concerned – the buyer has picked up a sensational property that suits their needs and will only grow in value, and the vendor has achieved a sale.”

Tax call adds to George Cheihk turmoil

George Cheihk

BUSINESS turmoil . . . George Cheihk complained of negative stories.

THE state tax office has been pursuing the wife of Lamborghini-driving entrepreneur George Cheihk and one of his property-business partners, who this week complained about a lack of attention for his organisation’s charity work.

It marks the latest business turmoil surrounding Mr Cheihk, who recently managed to annul his bankruptcy by offering creditors – including convicted drug dealer Joe Frangieh – a $200,000 payout.

Creditors had been claiming $13.7 million but settled on the payout offer.

Mr Cheihk, who has mixed with Brisbane and Ipswich’s local politicians, has rejected suggestions the creditors’ meeting was stacked.

At the time he had been driving a leased orange Lamborghini, with the licence plate “Sheihk”, and living in an $8 million riverfront home listed in the name of his wife, Zoe. Associates have said Mr Cheihk paid what he was able.

It has now emerged Mrs Cheihk and Con Bassili, who took over from Mr Cheihk as director of QLD Group, had a judgment awarded against them in the Brisbane Magistrate’s Court in March this year for $26,790.75.

It related to a Commissioner of State Revenue assessment of stamp duty issued in May 2007. The case was first filed in November 2007. Court records indicate Mr Bassili was served with a claim notice at QLD Group’s Brisbane CBD office in January. Mrs Cheihk was served in February at her pontoon-equipped home, which has long been on sale and associates have said carried large amounts of debt.

The tax claim had remained outstanding and no defence was filed when the judgment came down.

Mr Bassili, Mr Cheihk and Mr Frangieh – a Cheihk creditor who recently said he could “annihilate” a journalist – this week came to The Courier-Mail to complain about stories involving Mr Cheihk.

Mr Cheihk has said monies from Mr Frangieh came from appropriate sources.

An issue Mr Bassili complained of was publication of negative stories without mention of charitable work. QLD Group has supported organisations including the Queensland Institute of Medical Research.

Mr Bassili was yesterday not willing to discuss the tax issue or if the debt had been paid. “Don’t call this office any more, mate, you’re a grub,” he said before hanging up.

Mr Cheihk would not comment on queries about the claim against his wife. He said he did not want to be interviewed over the phone or at the newspaper, complaining he would be set up for a photograph.

However, the entrepreneur said he would be happy to talk at another venue, suggesting a coffee shop or proposing he would visit a reporter’s home yesterday evening accompanied by a “friend”.


Music promoter Andrew McManus is one of five men who have been arrested over an alleged cocaine smuggling ring.


Andrew McManus, promoter to stars including Aerosmith, Laura Dundovic and KISS, arrested in international cocaine ring bust… after police trace $700,000 in cash he claimed was ‘for a Lenny Kravitz concert’

  • Music promoter Andrew McManus was arrested and charged by police
  • It is alleged the 54-year-old was part of an international drug trafficking ring
  • The investigation began when $702,000 was found in a hotel room in 2011
  • McManus claimed the money was payment for a Lenny Kravitz concert 

A prominent Australian music promoter is one of five men who have been arrested over an alleged cocaine smuggling ring.

A four-year joint investigation between NSW Police and the United States’ FBI led to the arrests of the group of men.

Detectives arrested three men in Sydney on Thursday night while a fourth man – 54-year-old music promoter Andrew McManus  – was arrested at Melbourne Airport, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Music promoter Andrew McManus has been arrested as part of an alleged international drug trafficking ring 

 Music promoter Andrew McManus has been arrested as part of an alleged international drug trafficking ring

It has also been reported the detained Sydney men were crime figure Craig Haeusler, Kings Cross solicitor Michael Croke and Auburn pastry shop owner Zeki Atilgan.

McManus has been charged with perverting the course of justice, two counts of intention to defraud by false or misleading statement and knowingly participating in a criminal group.

A fifth man was arrested in the US by the FBI for drug offences and money laundering, NSW Police said in a statement.

US businessman Owen Hanson Jr was arrested while playing golf in San Diego, the Herald reported.

McManus and Miss Universe Australia 2008 Laura Dundovic in 2008

Andrew McManus and music legend Stevie Nicks pose at The Melbourne Cup in 2005

McManus (left with Laura Dundovic and right with Stevie Nicks) was arrested along with crime figure Craig Haeusler, Kings Cross solicitor Michael Croke and Auburn pastry shop owner Zeki Atilgan

Andrew McManus has been responsible for bringing Aerosmith, KISS, Lenny Kravitz and Chris Isaak (pictured above with McManus in 2008) to Australia

 Andrew McManus has been responsible for bringing Aerosmith, KISS, Lenny Kravitz and Chris Isaak (pictured above with McManus in 2008) to Australia

He was charged with perverting the course of justice, two counts of intention to defraud by false or misleading statement and knowingly participating in a criminal group

NSW detectives started investigating the alleged syndicate in August 2011 after a bag of $702,000 in cash was found in a man’s Sydney hotel room.


Andrew McManus, who owns McManus Entertainment, has been responsible for bringing Aerosmith, KISS and Lenny Kravitz to Australia.

He was forced to declare bankruptcy when the ATO discovered he had a $2.4 million tax debt after he was left $4.2 million out of pocket when deals and tours fell through.

McManus had to sell off his fleet of luxury cars and extensive property portfolio to cover his substantial debts.

The music promoter made headlines again back in 2011 when he was linked to a bag of $702,000 in cash that he claimed was payment for a Lenny Kravitz concert.

Four years later, he was arrested for his alleged part in a international cocaine ring, along with three Sydney men and a US citizen.

A court case was brought against NSW Police for the return of the cash when McManus claimed the bag was his and the money was payment for a Lenny Kravitz concert when he toured Australia.

But the police won and in late 2014 conducted raids in Sydney and Victoria, which netted $68,000 cash, drugs, steroids, documents and electronic equipment.

The operation also uncovered information regarding the alleged importation of 300kg of cocaine from Mexico to Australia via the US.

Since then, police have been investigating alleged drug trafficking between Mexico, the US and Australia, and associated money laundering.

Australian Crime Commission NSW manager Warren Gray said ‘investigations like this one affirm the effectiveness of “following the money'”‘.

NSW Police have charged a 55-year-old man with perverting the course of justice, intention to defraud by false or misleading statement and knowingly participating in a criminal group.

A 65-year-old has been charged with perverting the course of justice, three counts of intention to defraud by false or misleading statement and knowingly participating in a criminal group.

A 32-year-old man was charged with two counts of money laundering.

NSW detectives started investigating the alleged syndicate in August 2011 after a bag of $702,000 in cash was found in a man's Sydney hotel room. Above is one of the three Sydney men being arrested on ThursdayNSW detectives started investigating the alleged syndicate in August 2011 after a bag of $702,000 in cash was found in a man’s Sydney hotel room. Above is one of the three Sydney men being arrested on Thursday

The trio have been charged with money laundering, perverting the course of justice, intention to defraud by false or misleading statement and knowingly participating in a criminal group

Police raided the homes of three men in Kellyville, Miranda, and Sydney CBD following the extensive investigationPolice raided the homes of three men in Kellyville, Miranda, and Sydney CBD following the extensive investigation

The group of men have been bailed to appear at Sydney courts at later dates. NSW Police are also seeking to extradite a US citizenThe group of men have been bailed to appear at Sydney courts at later dates. NSW Police are also seeking to extradite a US citizen

The group of men have been bailed to appear at Sydney courts at later dates.

NSW Police is seeking the extradition of a 33-year-old US citizen to Sydney on arrest warrants for money laundering, perverting the course of justice and intent to defraud by false or misleading statement, as well as an additional charge of drug supply of a large commercial quantity.

Detectives from the Organised Crime Squad are currently in San Diego, California, working with the FBI.

A number of search warrants were executed, with officers seizing cash, gold, silver, cannabis and documentation.

Drug trafficking, money laundering bust sees five men, including Melbourne music promoter, arrested in joint NSW Police-FBI investigation

Updated about 2 hours ago

Music promoter Andrew McManus was arrested in Melbourne last night. (Getty Images: Kristian Dowling)

Five men, including Melbourne music promoter Andrew McManus, have been arrested following a joint FBI and New South Wales police investigation into international drug trafficking and money laundering.

An investigation was launched after police seized more than $700,000 from a man at a Sydney hotel in 2011.

NSW Police faced legal action for the return of the money, with a claim being made that it was payment for an international band who had toured Australia, but the case was thrown out of the Supreme Court and investigations continued.

Last year, New South Wales and Victoria police raided five properties, seizing more than $68,000 in cash and steroids.

Detectives say they also uncovered the importation of 300 kilograms of cocaine from Mexico to Australia, via the United States.

Following a joint operation with the FBI in San Diego, California, police last night arrested McManus, 54, in Melbourne.

McManus’ promotion companies have brought a number of high-profile entertainers to Australia, including Kiss, Mötley Crüe and Stevie Nicks.

A 65-year-old Sydney solicitor and two other New South Wales men were also charged.

Subsequent searches at a home in Kellyville, in Sydney’s north-west, uncovered cash, steroids and cannabis.

New South Wales Police are also trying to extradite US citizen Owen Hanson, 33, to Sydney so he can be charged.

He was arrested by FBI agents in the parking lot of a golf course in near San Diego, California, where he remains in custody on US federal drug charges, according to a statement from the FBI.

“The commitment made by the detectives and others involved in this investigation has been outstanding — they never lost focus on the job at hand,” commander of the Organised Crime Squad, Detective Superintendent Scott Cook, said in a statement.

“As recent investigations have shown, it is now clear that organised syndicates impacting NSW are often transnational in nature.

“Whilst this presents us with challenges, those who undertake these activities need to understand that being outside the jurisdiction will not save you.”

Australian Crime Commission state manager NSW Warren Gray said that, in this instance, “following the money” led to the discovery of criminal activity.

“The collaborative work between NSW Police and the FBI, and multiple partner agencies, is highly commendable and this outcome is a great result for the Australian community,” he said.

Andrew McManus at centre of storm

Kate McClymont

Big business: Andrew McManus in his office.Big business: Andrew McManus in his office. Photo: Teagan Glenane FCN

Controversial music promoter Andrew McManus has unwittingly revealed an important career lesson to tax evaders: if you are going to boast about ripping off the Australian Tax Office, don’t confide in the police.

His bizarre admission emerged last week in a court case involving the promoter, a bag full of cash, international rock acts including Fleetwood Mac and Lenny Kravitz and crime figures from Australia and the US.

“I’m not a dickhead but… if this went to the ATO, I’d be cooked again.”  

Andrew McManus

During an investigation into the source of the $702,000 cash found in a Sydney hotel room in 2011, McManus claimed the money was his. He boasted to police if they came round to his house “right now” they would find a safe with “600 large sittin’ in it”.

Legends: International rock act Fleetwood Mac.Legends: International rock act Fleetwood Mac.

When the police asked about the source of the money, he said, “This isn’t going anywhere?” He then offered that the “600 large” came from a Lenny Kravitz tour.


 He told police that he used 20 crew members to “sneak” the cash in from New Zealand.

“I’m not a dickhead but… if this went to the ATO, I’d be cooked again,” he volunteered.

Legal fight: Sean Carolan at the Supreme Court in Sydney.Legal fight: Sean Carolan at the Supreme Court in Sydney. Photo: Photo: Janie Barrett

Documents tendered during a recent battle in the NSW Supreme Court over the money have revealed that McManus also accepted $450,000 in cash from the outlaw Perth bikie gang, the Coffin Cheaters.

He also admitted to police that he withheld funds from rock groups including international stars Fleetwood Mac.

McManus also confided to police about the financial fallout from his involvement in the Melbourne Storm salary cap scandal.

The saga of the suitcase full of cash had its origins in May 2011 when McManus was staying at the luxurious InterContinental hotel in Macquarie Street, a short walk from Sydney’s Circular Quay.

In his hotel room he had a number of plastic shopping bags crammed with $10,000 bundles of cash totalling $702,000. His long-time friend and associate Craig Haeusler emptied the bags into a suitcase.

Haeusler, a drug kingpin who served five years in jail for running a multi-million dollar drug ring supplying methamphetamines to Sydney’s eastern suburbs, then gave the money to a young American, Owen Hanson jnr.

Haeusler told police he had been introduced to Hanson by a Chinese gambling identity and that the pair had bet on the NFL in America.

Hanson, who moved hotels every few days, was nicknamed “Dispose” by his Australian friends because of his propensity to dispose of pre-paid mobile phones.

Haeusler later told police that McManus was repaying Hanson who had  stumped up the deposit McManus needed for a ZZ Top tour.

The suitcase of cash was then hidden by Hanson in the ceiling of a rented apartment in Kent Street for three months. In August he handed the suitcase of cash to his personal trainer, Sean Carolan.

On August 11, 2011, police received an anonymous tip-off that the occupant of room 3026 in the Hilton Hotel had a gun. The occupant, Carolan, a former cage fighter and racehorse trainer turned personal trainer, didn’t have a gun — but he did have a black suitcase containing McManus’s $702,000, which the police seized.

Carolan’s subsequent legal fight to recover the money has brought to light a bizarre series of events.

On the night police seized the cash, Carolan said he was merely minding the money for Hanson, who didn’t want to lose any more at the casino.

CCTV footage from Star City casino obtained by the police shows earlier that day Carolan and Hanson were in a heated conversation with Robert Cipriani, a well-known American high roller who calls himself Robin Hood 702 (702 is the telephone code for Las Vegas).

Police records note that Cipriani “is well known to the casino and is currently of interest to the Australian Federal Police”.

The day after the cash was seized, Cipriani left for Los Angeles.

During the investigation into the suitcase, police interviewed Hanson by videolink from the Beverly Hills police station in Los Angeles. “Do you want me to tell you the, the full story of how basically this money was laundered…?” Hanson offered.

He said the cash had come from McManus but, contrary to Carolan’s initial version, Hanson claimed he had given the money to Carolan to invest in Carolan’s weight loss clinic.

As well as expressing concern at Hanson’s use of the word “laundered”, Justice Richard Button noted in his judgment on Monday, “There is no satisfactory explanation why Mr Hanson would invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in the business concept of a personal trainer who resided in a foreign country and whom he had known for no more than several weeks.”

Justice Richard Button refused to hand the $702,000 back to Carolan, saying he was not convinced he was “lawfully” entitled to the money.

Carolan was ordered to pay the police costs.

When he was interviewed by police in April 2012, McManus told them the money was his. “It’s pretty obvious though. I gave someone 700 large, and you’ve found someone with 700 large. It’s my 700 large.”

McManus told the police that the cash was part of a business deal where he was repaying the money to Hanson, who had lent him cash as a deposit for a ZZ Top tour but now he wanted it back to fund a Lenny Kravitz tour.

“In essence, I delivered back 700 grand I now need to borrow it again. As quickly as possible,” he said.

He also said; “It’s not the proceeds of crime, it’s the [proceeds] of Andrew McManus.”

McManus made remarkable admissions during his record of interview with police. He has since claimed he was under the influence of morphine  and alcohol at the time.

The rock promoter volunteered to police that he had been “under suspicion by the NRL, for making player payments to rugby league players”.

This was a reference to the Melbourne Storm salary cap scandal in 2010 when it was revealed that McManus had facilitated extra payments to Storm players including Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater.

His company, Andrew McManus Presents, would bill the Storm for “promotional” events. The money would be then be channelled by McManus’s company through to several Storm players.

The Storm were later stripped of their points and previous premiership titles.

Neither the players nor McManus were accused of any wrongdoing but McManus told the police of the fallout which included the Australian Tax Office going through him like a dose of salts.

“Although I did make tax payments on each player payment, I never actually got them to sign a full stat dec. So, of those players, they decided that they would fine me…between 30 per cent and the 49 per cent.”

He said he had to pay the ATO $120,000 per player, which totalled $2.4 million. “It crushed my company…Andrew McManus Presents International,” he told police.

Because of his ensuing financial difficulties he said he used friends and associates to help fund tours. McManus mentioned that Liberal powerbroker Michael Kroger and his brother Andrew had invested in his concert tours.

He said on five or six occasion, Michael Kroger had “put cash in and then I’ll, you know, fold it out.”

A spokesman for Michael Kroger said it was “a standard financial arrangement”.

McManus also boasted of withholding cash ticket sales from bands such as Fleetwood Mac. “I sold over $700,000 in cash tickets, because people wanted the best tickets, they come to the office, they ring up or email.”

“I’m not sharing it with the band…the cash stays in Andrew McManus’s pocket,” he told police.

McManus also told the police that he had accepted $450,000 in cash from the Coffin Cheaters, an outlaw motor cycle gang who were promoting the Perth leg of the ZZ Top tour.

During his police interview, McManus was accompanied by his lawyer and former partner in a Sydney nightclub, Michael Croke.

Croke, who represented Haeusler in his drug trial, also acted for McManus, Hanson, Haeusler and finally Carolan in the latter’s unsuccessful attempt to have the money returned.

During the case, Haeusler was pacing up and down the corridor outside the Supreme Court in Sydney.

McManus declined to comment for this story. He has issued a media release suggesting revelations about the suitcase and the cash were “gutter journalism by a bottom feeder” and that the articles had been written under “the protection of impossible deformation (sic) laws.”

WA Police seize biggest-ever meth haul – ‘hundreds of kilos’


It’s the biggest drug bust in Western Australian history, 321 kilograms of methamphetamine allegedly destined for sale on WA streets.

WA Police’s biggest-ever drug bust has seized 321 kilograms of the drug, mostly concealed in Chinese tea packaging, along with more than $1.4 million in cash.

Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan confirmed that the drugs, which would have yielded about 3.2 million ‘hits’ and fetched hundreds of millions on the street, were seized as the result of a continuing operation between state and federal police and the Australian Crime Commission.

The haul is the largest seizure of methamphetamine in WA history.The haul is the largest seizure of methamphetamine in WA history. Photo: WA Police

He called the haul a “hammer blow” to the organised criminal syndicate “peddling this misery” in WA.

Mr Keenan joined WA Police acting commissioner Gary Dreibergs and other officials in Perth on Thursday to reveal the bust and congratulate the officers involved.

Police have charged four Hong Kong nationals, three of whom are in the country illegally and one on a visitors’ visa, ACC chief executive Chris Dawson confirmed.

Police claims the methamphetamine haul has a street value of $320 million.Police claims the methamphetamine haul has a street value of $320 million. Photo: WA Police

On Tuesday after stopping a car in Willetton and arresting the 18-year-old driver, they searched a Canning Vale home and seized 316 kilograms of meth concealed in Chinese tea packaging inside 10 suitcases, WA Police acting deputy commissioner Michelle Fyfe said.

Following an arrest of the 19-year-old occupant, they were led to search an Adelaide Terrace apartment in Perth’s CBD and a Hay Street hotel room, where they seized another 43 grams and 4.9 kilograms of ice respectively and arrested another two men, aged 21 and 26, she said.

She said it was “frightening” to imagine that this quantity of ice was destined to be used by members of the community.

More than a million dollars cash was seized along with the record-breaking meth bust.More than a million dollars cash was seized along with the record-breaking meth bust.

The men have each been charged with possession of illicit drugs with intent to sell or supply and possession of stolen or unlawfully obtained property. They all appeared on Wednesday at Perth Magistrates Court and were remanded in custody.

Mr Dawson said intelligence informing the local investigation came through the ACC-led Eligo National Task Force, which had been tracking organised criminals cash flows for about two years.

The task force, comprising the ACC, Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, other federal agencies, federal police and state and territory police forces, was part of a “global attack” on organised crime syndicates in South East Asia.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Gary Dreibergs, WA Police Minister Liza Harvey and Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan (from left) revealed the details of the bust.Acting Deputy Commissioner Gary Dreibergs, WA Police Minister Liza Harvey and Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan (from left) revealed the details of the bust.

The investigation was continuing and the team would work with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Acting commissioner Dreibergs said the Australian Institute of Criminology’s Drug Use Monitoring in Australia project, plus waste-water analysis, were showing increasing methamphetamine use in the community.

“It affects the behaviour of offenders which makes it even more concerning for our officers. You see the community damage and the risk of violent behaviour that comes with it,” he said.

The huge haul illustrates the extent of the methamphetamine problem.The huge haul illustrates the extent of the methamphetamine problem.

“[This] puts our officers at risk more than ever … when I was an officer in my young days you didn’t have people impacted by methamphetamine, and more violent and unpredictable than they would normally be.

“People are making a massive amount of money … people who are very organised in this space.

“This is the old supply and demand story. You’ve got demand, people are going to fill that with supply like any other business.”

Acting WA Police commissioner Gary Dreibergs will make an announcement on the massive drug haul alongside other agencies involved.Acting WA Police commissioner Gary Dreibergs will make an announcement on the massive drug haul alongside other agencies involved.

Minister Keenan agreed there would always be ice entering Australia and so prevention and education were critical.

He said the National Ice Taskforce, led by former Victoria Police chief commissioner Ken Lay, was advising the government on how to improve education in the community, reduce demand and improve the health response at a national level.

The taskforce represents an increasing political focus on ice use in Australia and an evolution from looking at it as purely a police matter.

In March, the ACC published The Australian Methylamphetamine Market: The National Picture, the first comprehensive national snapshot of ice and the role organised crime plays in its distribution, to inform the national response.

In April, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the establishment of the National Ice Taskforce, entrusted with developing a National Ice Action Strategy including education and health responses as well as law enforcement.

Mr Lay and fellow taskforce members Sally McCarthy and Richard Murray spent eight weeks travelling Australia to hear first-hand from people dealing with the impacts of ice in communities, with a particular focus on regional Australia.

They received more than 1300 submissions, held seven community consultations and spoke to experts in drug treatment, health care, education, research and law enforcement.

Federal MPs also held community consultations to contribute to this body of information.

On July 23, Mr Abbott presented the National Ice Taskforce interim report to the Council of Australian Governments outlining the six priority areas for the national strategy.

The strategy is due to be finalised by the end of the year.

A Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement is simultaneously at work, focusing purely on the law enforcement response to the ice problem in Australia.


‘Largest ever WA ice bust’ nets $320 million worth of meth, more than $1 million cash

Police in Perth have confiscated 320 kilograms of methamphetamine worth $320 million, as well as $1.2 million in cash, in what has been described as WA’s largest ever ice seizure.

The drugs were seized in a joint operation yesterday between WA Police and the Australian Crime Commission.

This seizure is a hammer blow for the organised criminals who peddle in ice.

Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan

Arrest warrants were executed at three residences, in Canning Vale and the Perth CBD.

Most of the drugs, about 316 kilograms, were found hidden in packages of Chinese tea at a house in Canning Vale.

An apartment on Adelaide Terrace and a hotel on Hay Street in the city were also raided.

Four Hong Kong nationals, ranging in age from 19 to 26, have been charged over the seizure.

Three of those men are believed to have been in Australia illegally, the fourth was on a visa.

The four men have already appeared in court and were remanded in custody.

Haul a ‘hammer blow’ to criminals, Keenan says

Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan said it was a significant haul.

“This latest seizure, this largest seizure in Western Australian history, is an example of the dividends that are being paid by the unprecedented cooperation between Commonwealth and state law enforcement,” he said.

“They have taken at least 320 kilograms of this terrible drug off the streets. That would have equated to 3.2 million individual hits of ice, with a street value of upwards of $320 million.

“This seizure is a hammer blow for the organised criminals who peddle in ice.”

Police said they feared what could have happened if the drugs had not been confiscated.

“[It] can only be described as frightening that this was going to hit our streets, this was going to be taken by members of our community,” WA Police acting deputy commissioner Michelle Fyfe said.

WA Police Minister Liza Harvey said the operation would put a significant dent in the ice market.

“I cannot tell you the impact that will have on the families, and the relatives and the friends of the meth addicts who wreak havoc on our community,” she said.

String of drug busts

This is the third major methamphetamine bust in the state in the past couple of months.

In August, police arrested three men and impounded a yacht off Western Australia’s north-west coast after seizing more than 20 kilograms of methamphetamine from a unit in Perth.

Officers from the Australian Federal Police and Organised Crime Squad seized the drug — also known as ice — and almost $1 million from the Perth unit as part of a National Anti-Gang Squad operation.

They also found 11 guns, including a sawn-off shotgun and a homemade machine gun.

In July, methamphetamine with a street value of $21 million was seized along with $100,000 cash.

Five people from WA, Queensland and New South Wales were charged over the seizure in the northern Perth suburb of Karrinyup.


Roger Rogerson and Glen McNamara trial (for murder of Jamie Gao )


update 14/8/15

Barrister Charles Waterstreet probed for contempt of court over social media posts in McNamara and Rogerson murder trial

Louise Hall
Charles Waterstreet (left) arrives at the murder trial of Roger Rogerson and Glen McNamara in July.Charles Waterstreet (left) arrives at the murder trial of Roger Rogerson and Glen McNamara in July. Photo: Ben Rushton

High-profile criminal barrister Charles Waterstreet may face contempt of court charges for alleged social media posts which had the potential to prejudice the trial of his client Glen McNamara and co-accused Roger Rogerson.

On Thursday, Justice Geoffrey Bellew formally vacated the trial of Mr McNamara and Mr Rogerson for the murder of university student Jamie Gao during a botched drug deal.

The trial was scheduled to go ahead on Monday, but will not proceed until early next year.

Justice Bellew ordered the registrar of the Common Law Division of the Supreme Court to investigate Mr Waterstreet for contempt of court.


On Tuesday, as pre-trial hearings were under way, Justice Bellew was told of a post on an Instagram account in Mr Waterstreet’s name, being charleswaterstreet.

The post contained a picture of Mr Waterstreet and another man and was taken in the vicinity of the Darlinghurst Supreme Court.

It had a caption, the contents of which Justice Bellew has suppressed.

Mr Waterstreet told Justice Bellew he did not post the picture and caption.

The court also heard a Twitter account in Mr Waterstreet’s name at @ccwaterstreet posted a link to the Instagram post.

Justice Bellew said he had “no practical alternative” to vacate the trial despite the considerable expense to the taxpayer.

He said it was no fault of the court, the “criminal justice system”, the Crown, Mr Rogerson’s solicitor and barrister or Mr McNamara’s solicitor and said each had worked diligently to ensure the trial proceeded efficiently.

“To say the vacation of the trial is unfortunate would be a gross understatement,” he said.

But he said Mr McNamara, through no fault of his own, was suddenly left without a barrister on Wednesday morning, just days from the opening date, and to proceed would potentially rob him of a fair trial.

Former Liberal NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith, SC, appeared in court, saying Mr McNamara wanted to retain him and Mr Waterstreet’s junior counsel Peter Lange. However, he would not be able to take on the case until next year.

Mr Rogerson’s barrister, George Thomas, argued strongly for the trial to be put back for only two weeks, arguing a competent and experienced barrister who is available to take on the case could get across the brief in that time.

He also accused Mr McNamara of instructing Mr Waterstreet to act in a way that caused the case to go off the rails.

However, Justice Bellew dismissed any suggestion Mr McNamara was behind Mr Waterstreet’s alleged actions.

He also said any barrister taking over the case would need much more than two weeks to get across the volumes of material to be tendered during the trial.

Mr Smith said he was hoping the Legal Aid Commission would approve his retainer.

Mr Thomas said that, as Mr McNamara’s defence was funded by Legal Aid, he did not have the luxury of choosing his own barrister and should take whoever was available.

Both Mr Rogerson and Mr McNamara have pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Gao in a storage unit in Padstow last year.

Following the revelation of the social media posts, Mr Waterstreet was given time to get legal advice. He consulted noted appeal barrister Tim Game, SC.

On Wednesday, Mr Waterstreet sought the court’s leave to withdraw from the case.

Mr Game, appearing for Mr Waterstreet, told the court he had advised his client to step down, although this did not constitute an admission of wrongdoing.

Crown Prosecutor Chris Maxwell, QC, and Mr Game agreed Mr Waterstreet should be referred to the registrar for investigation.

In referring Mr Waterstreet, Justice Bellew ordered the registrar to seek and adhere to the “advice of the Crown Solicitor as to whether proceedings for contempt should be taken against Mr Waterstreet”.

He also ordered the registrar to inform the Attorney-General, Gabrielle Upton.

Roger Rogerson and Glen McNamara murder trial of Jamie Gao hearing to begin for the 2nd time on August 18 2015

 These 2 pathetic (and stupid) coppers go on trial today TRIAL aborted on the 2nd day! for the alleged botched drug theft gone wrong resulting in the murder of Jamie Gao

UPDATES daily on this trial here background posts click here

A pictorial of the infamous ex copper Roger the Dodger is here


Roger Rogerson and Glen McNamara murder trial of Jamie Gao hearing to begin on August 18 2015

Paul Bibby

New trial date: former detectives Glen McNamara and Roger Rogerson will appear before the NSW Supreme Court on August 18.New trial date: former detectives Glen McNamara and Roger Rogerson will appear before the NSW Supreme Court on August 18. Photo: Rocco Fazzari

Former detectives Roger Rogerson and Glen McNamara will face a new trial over the murder of Sydney student Jamie Gao on August 18, following the discharge of the jury in their first trial.

Justice Geoff Bellew told the NSW Supreme Court that the new trial date for the pair had been confirmed, lifting a non-publication order made on Tuesday.

Mr Rogerson, 74, and Mr McNamara, 56, are accused of being part of a “joint criminal enterprise” to murder Mr Gao, 20, in a southern Sydney storage unit on May 20 last year.

Twenty-year-old Jamie Gao was killed on May 22, 2014.Twenty-year-old Jamie Gao was killed on May 22, 2014. Photo: Facebook

It is alleged that they stole 2.78 kilograms of the drug ice from him and then dumped his body off the coast of Cronulla. It was found six days later.

Half way through the trial’s second day on Tuesday, Justice Bellew discharged the 15-member jury for legal reasons which cannot be disclosed.

Both accused have pleaded not guilty to murder and drug supply.

Counsel for Mr McNamara, Charles Waterstreet told the jury on Tuesday that Mr Rogerson had been solely responsible for the murder.

He said the 74-year-old had shot Mr Gao twice in the chest and then threatened to kill Mr McNamara and his family if he did not help him to cover up the crime.

No evidence was presented to support these claims before the jury was discharged.

Counsel for Mr Rogerson, George Thomas, did not have the opportunity to address the jury before members were discharged.

On Tuesday Justice Bellew said the NSW sheriff had confirmed that a court was available on August 18 to begin a new trial, and he formally set down that date.

TWO former detectives charged with murdering a Sydney student will go on trial before a jury today. Glen McNamara and Roger Rogerson face charges of murdering 20-year-old UTS student Jamie Gao in May last year. They are also accused of drug supply. Their trial at the NSW Supreme Court at Darlinghurst is expected to get underway later this morning. Police have alleged the pair lured Gao to a storage unit in Sydney’s southwest, with Mr Gao attending the meeting carrying almost three kilograms of the drug ice, or crystal methamphetamine.

Roger Rogerson.

Roger Rogerson. Source: DailyTelegraph

Former detective Glen McNamara being escorted to prison after his arrest.

Former detective Glen McNamara being escorted to prison after his arrest. Source: News Corp Australia

Police have alleged the trio were spotted on CCTV entering the storage unit. Ten minutes later, cameras allegedly captured McNamara and Rogerson leaving, dragging a surfboard bag. Mr Gao’s bound body was found floating in waters off Sydney six days later. Both McNamara and Rogerson deny the charges and entered not guilty pleas at a previous hearing. In January they waived their right to a committal hearing in order to get to trial as soon as possible.

The mafia, metadata and me: the day Stan called me into an ecstasy sting

The mafia, metadata and me: the day Stan called me into an ecstasy sting

Nick McKenzie

Mafia in Australia – Drugs, Murder and Politics

The mafia continues to flourish in Australia despite major police operations, as this joint Four Corners/Fairfax Media investigation reveals.

When the phone vibrated in my pocket in September 2007, I had no idea the incoming call would plunge me into the middle of Australia’s biggest Mafia investigation in decades.

I was also unaware that the caller, who identified himself as “Stan”, was, in fact, a driven and entrepreneurial drug trafficker from Griffith, NSW, called Pat Barbaro.

Federal Police and Customs agents with some of the Ecstasy and Cocaine after the drug bust.Federal Police and Customs agents with some of the Ecstasy and Cocaine after the drug bust. Photo: John Woudstra

Barbaro had organised the world’s biggest ecstasy shipment into Melbourne in June 2007. But by the time he rang me, three months later, he was unable to locate the shipping container packed with his $500 million load.

Calling me, and then sending a series of texts from several mobile phones registered in fake names, was part of a desperate plan by Barbaro to either locate his shipment or confirm his suspicions that the police had seized his drugs.

He was hoping I would reach out to police or waterfront sources to do this, and then report my findings. To say his plan failed spectacularly would be an understatement.

Unbeknownst to either me or “Stan,” police were intercepting the text messages, which included detailed descriptions of the size and likely location of the drug shipment. These text messages, and analysis of the corresponding metadata, were used to prove Barbaro had organised the drug shipment.

But that was not the only implication. Over the past six months, federal police have used the scenario as a case study to convince the Federal Government of the need to pass laws ensuring telcos store the metadata generated when a person uses a phone or computer.

As the hulking Barbaro walked around Melbourne’s CBD, meeting bikies, South Asian money launderers and other Mafia bosses, he carried up to a dozen phones. One was his personal mobile, with a subscription under his own name.

The other phones were “burners”, which were registered in false names and regularly replaced with new phones. The problem for Barbaro is that these burners were hitting the same mobile phone towers as his regular phone.

Barbaro’s personal phone and the burners were pinging off the same towers so often that police were able to prove the burners belonged to Barbaro.

According to the Director of Public Prosecution’s Andrea Pavleka, the texts sent from the “Stan” burners “showed that Barbaro had critical knowledge of the contents of that container”.

“That was a terrific link for the prosecution to have in this particular matter.”

Back in 2007, I knew none of this.

In fact, had I known my communications were being intercepted, I would have been furious.

Many of my sources are banned by their employer from speaking to me, or any other reporter, so the prospect of any innocent whistleblower being outed would have concerned me greatly.

I only learned this many months later of the interception. From all the checks I have since conducted – and there have been many – no source of mine was compromised and the AFP agents involved acted professionally and with regard to the sensitivities of my trade.

That said, ever since 2007, I have implemented a range of measures to protect sources’ communications — steps not unlike those suggested by Malcolm Turnbull during the recent debate about metadata.

Ever since the phone buzzed that day in my pocket, and “Stan” briefly entered my life, I’ve been especially conscious about how a person’s communications leave a trail, no matter how careful they are. It is a lesson the now jailed Barbaro has, no doubt, also learned well.

Watch part two of a joint Fairfax and ABC Four Corners mafia investigation on ABC1 8.30 PM Monday.

Terror diverts focus from Mafia ‘board of directors’

Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker, Michael Bachelard

Inside a mafia ecstasy sting

The Calabrian mafia was responsible for the world’s biggest ecstasy importation in 2007. As Fairfax Media and the ABC can reveal, it didn’t go to plan…

Italy’s top anti-Mafia prosecutor and Australian police are warning that the massive diversion of law-enforcement resources to combat terrorism is eroding the fight against the Mafia and other serious organised crime groups.

Australian authorities have failed for decades to dismantle the “board of directors” of Calabrian Mafia godfathers across Australia, allowing them to entrench their drug trafficking operations, build alliances with outlaw bikie gangs and infiltrate government and police agencies.

The Mafia's reach in VictoriaThe Mafia’s reach in Victoria.

A 2013 multi-agency police report warns “Ndrangheta Transnational Australian Groups” are posing an extreme risk to Australia.

Italian anti-Mafia magistrate Dr Nicola Gratteri has also warned that the Australian government has risked allowing these organised crime groups to prosper.

“When social alarm is provoked over terrorism, governments are forced to invest in terrorism and not in Mafia … the Mafia celebrates because they know there are fewer resources,” Dr Gratteri said.

The Mafia's reach in NSW.
The Mafia’s reach in NSW.

Senior police across Australia have confidentially backed these comments, saying that while terrorism was a clear priority, the focus on suspected jihadists had meant the shifting of important resources away from the fight against organised crime.

Three weeks ago, Dr Gratteri oversaw an international anti-Mafia operation, codenamed Santa Fe, which attacked the operations of the powerful Alvaro Mafia clan, seizing tonnes of cocaine and making dozens of arrests.

Confidential Italian and Australian police files state that the Alvaro clan has powerful cells operating in Australia, allegedly headed by Adelaide construction figure, Paul Alvaro, 64, and a NSW man. Mr Alvaro did not answer specific questions, but he denies any links to organised crime

The pair is aligned to a handful of figures in capital cities across the nation and in Griffith, NSW, who – according to a police assessment – operate as “an executive Board of Directors” for the Calabrian Mafia, or “Ndrangheta”.

The board “comes together on an ad hoc basis particularly in times of crisis or when the low profile of [the Calabrian Mafia], so carefully cultivated and jealously protected, is threatened,” police reports say.

NSW Police intelligence lists “the main” Calabrian Mafia clans as “the Sergi family, Trimboli family, Romeo family” who are all “based predominantly in the Griffith area.” Only a very small number of members of these families are engaged in crime and there are many Italian families who share these common surnames but who are not connected to the Calabrian Mafia.

“The criminal activities engaged in by this network have been engaged in for decades with a high level of success. Members of the network have occasionally been apprehended and imprisoned, but on the whole, internal wrangling appears to have exacted a higher toll, as family members are murdered not infrequently,” says one NSW police assessment.

In Victoria, court files allege that wealthy Melbourne businessman, Giuseppe “Bebbe” Manariti, was linked to the world’s biggest ecstasy importation in Melbourne in 2007.

Commonwealth prosecutors have alleged that Mr Manariti was briefed by the Mafia importers, stating that he was “interested in unfolding events” linked to the massive shipment.

Mr Manariti, who has never faced criminal charges, is a close associate of alleged Melbourne Mafia boss Tony Madafferi and the pair, along with deceased Mafia leader Rosario Gangemi, are considered by police to have previously formed a “trinity” that directed the Calabrian Mafia’s Melbourne operations.

Both Mr Manariti and Mr Madafferi were previously identified in a top secret 1995 anti-Mafia operation as members of the group also known as the Honoured Society.

Mr Madafferi could not be reached for comment but has previously denied any involvement in organised crime. Mr Manariti could not be reached for comment.

The police files also reveal that the Calabrian Mafia has built close ties to outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMCGs), including the Rebels and Bandidos.

“This is particularly evident with identified connections to the Sydney and North Coast Bandidos OMCG and the Canberra and Batemans Bay Rebels OMCG. There is also intelligence of links to the Finks OMCG through associates.”

Dr Gratteri’s warning about the diversion of resources away from the organised crime fight echoes a classified National Crime Authority report in 2003.

“It is suggested that they [Australia’s Mafia cells] will neither decline nor cease their activities in the foreseeable future due to their long entrenched history in criminality in Australia, the steady market demand for cannabis and other illicit drugs and the diversion of law enforcement efforts to other areas.”

Watch part two of a joint Fairfax and ABC Four Corners mafia investigation on ABC1 8.30 PM Monday.

Judge bribes, military arms sought: the Mafia’s alleged Australian operations

Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker, Michael Bachelard

An Australian Mafia boss allegedly paid $2.2 million in bribes to  judges to get lighter jail sentences, and the Mafia have approached defence force personnel to supply them with military grade weapons, top-secret police intelligence reports reveal.

The reports also reveal the price of some food – including the price of certain types of seafood in Sydney – may be more expensive due to Mafia control of the supply chain across Australia.

Fairfax Media can also reveal that Jupiter’s Casino on the Gold Coast has become a key gambling site for Mafia figures banned over money laundering concerns from Crown Casino in Melbourne and Star City in Sydney.

Two top crime figures, including a Mafia godfather, banned from the Sydney and Melbourne casinos recently gambled large amounts at Jupiter’s, effectively rendering anti-money laundering efforts useless.

A search this month of the business holdings of all the key Mafia bosses in NSW, Victoria and South Australia also reveals their continuing control over multimillion-dollar wholesale, construction and farming businesses, including a major winery and several large fruit orchards.

A joint Fairfax Media and ABC Four Corners probe has obtained a series of confidential Australian police reports written and circulated to state agencies between 2003 and 2014.

The reports provide startling revelations about the depth of Calabrian Mafia’s infiltration into Australian life and the ambitions of the criminal group.

They reveal the group known as ‘Ndrangheta, or the Honoured Society, continues to control both legitimate and illegitimate businesses, with money earned both from the drug trade and from stand-over and extortion within pockets of Australia’s fresh food trade, trucking and construction industries.

A 2013 file, circulated among agencies, warns that the Mafia poses as “extreme” organised crime risk to the nation.

It echoes similar warnings made in a 2003 Australian Crime Commission assessment that revealed the Mafia had “infiltrated members into, or recruited people from, public organisations, government and law enforcement agencies with the lure of money”.

“[Mafia] family associates are employed in many areas of government enterprise, as well as in the telecommunications industry; bookmaking/racing; car dealerships/car repairs and hydroponic shops,” the 2003 report states.

In Victoria, Mick Gatto is named as a crime figure who works closely with the Calabrian Mafia while running his own crime syndicate.  

“Mick Gatto has shown a high awareness of law enforcement methodology and has taken a proactive approach in accessing corrupt law enforcement personnel and information to protect his ventures,” one report says.

In NSW, another Italian crime boss “is involved in a number of legitimate businesses … including car dealerships and night clubs, and is associated with at least one ex-AFP member and one corrective services person”.

NSW police intelligence also describes how detectives had discovered how “Italian Organised Crime members have actively approached members of the Australian Defence Forces for the purpose of acquiring firearms and ammunition”.

The NSW police also gathered information in 2003 that Mafia figures in Griffith, NSW – the group’s traditional stronghold – had been “receiving information from a person connected to the police in Griffith and the court”.

“It is alleged that a Sydney based IOC [Italian Organised Crime] member received light sentences in the past because he paid off [Sydney] judges, costing approximately $2.2 million.

“The protection provided to IOC members by other members comes in many forms, ranging from the simple criminal code of silence or perjury, to more sinister acts involving corrupt influence [and] abusing a position of responsibility.

“IOC groups in NSW have infiltrated members into, or recruited people from, public organisations, government and law enforcement agencies with the lure of money.”

Fairfax Media has recently spoken to senior law enforcement sources who identified a judge allegedly involved, saying he has since left the bench.

The NSW police have also discovered “information [that] suggests a monopoly exists … at the Sydney Fish Markets where private arrangements need to be made for their purchase”. The report says these arrangements allegedly involve cartel behaviour, including price fixing and threats of violence.

Police have warned that Mafia identities maintain control over the food supply chain via their ownership of farms, wholesale businesses and transport and freight firms.

Reception centres owned by Mafia bosses in Adelaide and Melbourne have been hired by unwitting police and politicians to hold functions.

An intelligence brief circulated to police across Australia in 2011 states: “The Calabrian Mafia … readily uses fruit trucks to transport cannabis to the Melbourne Fruit and Vegetable Market [from Griffith, NSW and other regional sites] to be further distributed. The trucks usually have the cannabis hidden among containers of fruit and vegetables.”

In 2003, NSW police confidentially warned that: “Investigations developed intelligence of IOC figures involved in both the Sydney fruit markets at Flemington and fish markets, as well as the Belconnen markets in Canberra”.

“[Wholesale food] markets continue to provide controlled linkages to the interstate trucking and transport industry. Again, elements of the transport infrastructure are controlled by families with connections to IOC elements. There is continuing intelligence of the exploitation of this type of freight for trafficking illicit commodities.

“The exploitation of the markets and interstate freight remains a significant area for environmental hardening and law reform.”

The revelation that Mafia figures banned from NSW and Victorian casinos over money laundering concerns are simply heading to the Gold Coast casino suggests another major weakness in anti-organised crime measures.

Police have previously warned that Mafia “identities were using casinos to launder funds through, with significant money movements through Jupiter’s Casino and Crown Casino Melbourne”.

Bikie war at Melbourne prison as 300 armed inmates tear down fences separating rival gangs during riot over a smoking ban

 – and fears grow over notorious tattooed enforcer locked in isolation

  • At least 60 prisoners at Melbourne’s Metropolitan Remand Centre rioting
  • Rioters seen covering their faces, bashing doors and carrying large sticks
  • Unrest believed to be protest against ban on smoking set to be introduced
  • Notorious Australian bikie enforcer Toby Mitchell being held at the prison 
  • Corrections Commissioner said the ‘perimeter of the prison is secure’ 
  • There have been reports of up to 100 inmates still rioting inside the prison 
  • Up to two fires are reportedly burning inside of the building 

Prison riot: Corrections Victoria regains control of Melbourne Remand Centre after police storm facility

Updated 48 minutes ago

Corrections Victoria has regained control of the Metropolitan Remand Centre in Melbourne’s west, after a 15-hour riot that started around noon yesterday ended overnight.

Heavily armed police carrying shields stormed the maximum security prison around 3:00am in a bid to quell the rioting prisoners.

In a statement, Corrections Victoria said it was a difficult operation conducted under the cover of darkness to protect prison staff, Victoria Police and prisoners.

I think it’s fair to say that I am deeply relieved that no-one was seriously hurt

Wade Noonan, Victorian Corrections Minister

Several prisoners were hurt in the riot and were treated by medical staff.

A wall was knocked down, fires were lit and windows were smashed during the violence, involving up to 300 inmates, some of who covered their faces and carried sticks.

The riot is widely believed to have been sparked by the imposition of a smoking ban which came into effect today at the remand centre at Ravenhall.

Two staff members suffered minor injuries but “these were not as a direct result of interaction with prisoners” the department said in a statement.

This morning five fire trucks returned to the centre after a fire alarm was triggered due to a minor fire at the premises.

A statement from the Justice Department said there was no risk to prisoner or staff safety.

Two ambulances were also seen going into the centre and Ambulance Victoria said one man was being treated for chest pain.

Ambulance officials could not say if it was it a prison staff member or an inmate.

About 200 staff were evacuated from the facility and all of the state’s prisons went into lockdown as a precaution.

A large number of prisoners were transferred to other facilities as authorities assessed the damage to the prison.

Corrections Victoria will hold an internal review to the handling of the riot and Victoria Police is also investigating.

Victorian Corrections Minister Wade Noonan called the incident “unacceptable” and “dangerous”.

“This behaviour will not be tolerated,” he said.

“I want to assure the Victorian people that there will be a thorough investigation into what caused this riot, how this major security breach happened and the response to it.

“This criminal behaviour will not be tolerated.

“I think it’s fair to say that I am deeply relieved that no-one was seriously hurt and this is in no small part due to the efforts of our brave men and women in Corrections Victoria and Victoria Police.”

Corrections Commissioner Jan Shuard said all prisons across the state would remain in lockdown for the time being.

She said the smoking ban probably was the reason for the riot but that the ban would still be enforced from today.

Ms Shuard could not put a dollar figure on the amount of damage inside the centre but said prison cells, windows and units were damaged.

She said work had already begun to assess the damage and make repairs.

All 802 prisoners were accounted for.

Ms Shuard said most prisoners returned to their cells on instructions from police and corrections officials.

Police used capsicum spray to subdue those refusing to cooperate.

“I would say by the time we got to the end of the exercise there was around 50 prisoners out and about that we had to bring back under control but that took a long time,” Ms Shuard said.

“The numbers decreased as the day went on.”

Most prisoners returned to cells voluntarily

Ms Shuard said they were enacting a prison recovery plan to fix the damage and secure the prisoners in their cells.

“So we’ll go to a restricted regime for a period of time and then when we assess its safe to do so we will start moving back to a normal regime but it’ll take a while,” she said.

“Those people that might be involved in these incidents don’t get the same freedom of movement that they would’ve had previously.

Every Victorian should be in no doubt that those who have acted in a criminal way will feel the full force of the law.

Daniel Andrews, Victorian Premier

“There are very restricted regimes for people that cause disruption to the prison system.”

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane said police took their time, planned the operation to regain control of the prison and then executed that plan.

“It took several hours to give the prisoners who didn’t want to be involved in any confrontation with police and corrections staff an opportunity to return to their cells.

“The vast majority of prisoners on the night returned to their cells and as they were confronted during the evening the remaining prisoners surrendered and were accounted for.”

Assistant Commissioner Leane said some of the inmates involved would probably face new criminal charges.

“I think there’s quite a few of them [who] will be thinking that they may be doing some more time than they weren’t planning on doing, yes,” he said.

Ms Shuard also promised a wide-ranging review of the handling of the incident.

“If criminal acts have occurred within our prison that would be a matter for Victoria Police to pursue any charges,” she said.

Mr Noonan praised prison staff, police and emergency workers for their “bravery in a difficult and dangerous situation”.

“I want to assure the Victorian people there will be a thorough investigation into what caused this riot, how this major security breach happened and the response to it,” he said in a statement.

Premier angry about riot, promises independent inquiry

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said what happened at the remand centre was “completely unacceptable” and that criminal behaviour would be investigated and prosecuted.

“We’ll investigate what went on and how it was allowed to happen,” he said.

“The circumstances around this will be fully and frankly investigated with independent oversight.

“We’ve got to learn from this and ensure that everything that can be done to avoid it ever happening again is done.”

Mr Andrews said “very significant damage was done” that will come at “considerable cost” to the Victorian taxpayer.

“Every Victorian should be in no doubt that those who have acted in a criminal way will feel the full force of the law,” he said.

Fiona Patten, the leader of the Australian Sex Party, urged the Government to overturn the smoking ban.

“It’s naive to think that when you erode the rights of an individual who has precious little freedom in the first place, they are going to just sit back and take it,” she said.

“Obviously they are going to feel further marginalised and this is exactly what has led to the trouble at the Ravenhall Maximum security facility.”

But the Premier promptly rejected that idea.

“It will not be changed. You don’t reward that sort of appalling behaviour by bringing about policy changes,” he said.

Heavily-armed police have stormed a maximum security prison after 300 criminals began rioting over a smoking ban.

Officers wearing vests, helmets and carrying shotguns charged the prison about 3:20pm in an effort to retake control, after riots broke out around 12.20pm on Tuesday. A police drone also hovered above the centre.

Inside the prison, water cannons were used to control prisoners, which included rival bikie gangs locked in a bitter war, according to Channel Seven.  

Dozens of riot police stormed the centre and continued into the night with heavily armed police monitoring the entrance at 11pm,The Herald Sun have reported.

Fires burned well into the evening inside the maximum security prison complex.

On the loose: About 300 criminals are rioting and guards have been overrun at a Melbourne prison, with more than 100 officers trying to stop 

On the loose: About 300 criminals are rioting and guards have been overrun at a Melbourne prison, with more than 100 officers trying to stop 

Dozens of riot police stormed the centre and continued well into the night with heavily armed police monitoring the entrance at 11pm

Dozens of riot police stormed the centre and continued well into the night with heavily armed police monitoring the entrance at 11pm

Corrections Commissioner Jan Shuard said ‘the perimeter of the prison is secure.’

Cheering and shouting was reportedly heard from inside the prison walls at 9.15pm.

‘We have worked very closely with our staff across the state in the implementation of this smoking ban and they have been a part of the process,’ she said.

‘This is very disappointing that this occurred today, we have done an enourmous amount of work to prepare for this, we obviously have contingency plans for all events within our prisons.’

Up to two fires are burning inside of the building and 100 inmates are yet to surrender.

Two loud bangs were heard from inside the prison around 6pm but it is unknown what was the cause, The Australian have reported.

Other reports say riot police are used tear gas inside the prison and a group of about 15 criminals forced their way into the control room in the late afternoon, according to The Age.  

Emergency services remain at the location including fire fighters and Victoria Police special operations armed with shields and helmets.

Footage by helicopters above the Metropolitan Remand Centre at Ravenhill in Melbourne’s west, shows people covering their faces, bashing doors and carrying large sticks and bats. Black smoke was also seen in the sky above the centre.

Port Phillip Prison, a mere four kilometres away, was also put into lock down following a fire at their facility, but it has since been contained.

Going in: Heavily-armed police have stormed a maximum security prison after 300 criminals began rioting over a smoking ban

Fight back: Officers wearing vests, helmets and carrying shotguns charged the prison in an effort to retake control

Cheering and shouting was reportedly heard from inside the prison walls at 9.15pm

Emergency services remain at the location including fire fighters and Victoria Police special operations armed with shields

Smoke can be seen rising from inside the prison's perimeters and up to 100 prisoners are yet to surrender

Notorious Australian bikie, former enforcer Toby Mitchell, is being held in isolation inside the facility

Notorious Australian bikie, former enforcer Toby Mitchell, is being held in isolation inside the facility

Notorious Australian bikie, former enforcer Toby Mitchell, is being held in isolation inside the facility. Mitchell, an infamous member of the Bandidos gang, has survived two shootings – one in which he was shot five times in the back.

‘Police are currently responding to a disturbance at a correctional facility on Middle Road Ravenhall just before 12.30pm,’ a Victoria Police statement read.

‘We will thoroughly review how this came about, how we responded to it and what we might need to do in the future,’

Police workers from the Critical Incident Response Team are seen outside Ravenhall Prison

Pushing back: Riot police at the Ravenhall Prison in Melbourne

Dangerous situation: Critical Incident Response team members patrol outside the centre

Dark: Smoke billows from the Ravenhall prison into the sky

‘Staff have been evacuated as a precaution. The inmates remain contained within the grounds and a number of police units are currently on scene including the Air wing.’ 

Prisoners are also reportedly lighting fires and destroying other property. 

The centre has beds to house 723 people. 

Corrections Victoria released a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying prisoners breached the ‘secure inner perimeter’ at the centre.

Ready to go: An officer with a shotgun stands outside the prison before riot police stormed the centre

Heavily armed: Officers gather outside the remand centre as prisoners riot inside

Load up: Riot police prepare to enter the prison 

Load up: Riot police prepare to enter the prison 

Riot breaks out at Ravenhall prison over smoking ban

‘All staff have been accounted for and there are no reports of staff injuries at this stage,’ the statement read.

‘Police have secured the perimeter. There is no threat to public safety.’

It is believed the riot has been caused by a Victorian government plan to ban smoking in prisons, which is set to start on Wednesday. 

‘The smoking ban will occur tomorrow,’ the Corrections Commissioner said.

However, according to reports, the canteen at Ravenhill stopped selling tobacco on June 15.

Heavy duty: A police armoured-vehicle arrives at the prison

High alert: Hundreds of officers and guards are at the scene of the Ravenhill facility in Melbourne's west

The remand centre is located in Ravenhall, west of Melbourne's CBD

Footage captured by Channel Seven shows people covering their faces, bashing doors and carrying large sticks and bats


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