Sydney shooting: two people shot outside NSW Police headquarters at Parramatta


Parramatta shooting: Police search mosque in shooting investigation

The Parramatta Mosque has been searched, a senior police source has told the ABC, as investigations into Friday’s fatal shooting of a civilian police force employee continue.

Farhad Jabar Khali Mohammad, 15, shot and killed 17-year police force veteran Curtis Cheng at close range outside the Parramatta police headquarters.

A senior police source told the ABC Farhad attended a mosque shortly before the shooting.

The mosque believed to have been searched overnight is a few blocks away from the site of the shooting that killed Mr Cheng, 58, as he left work at 4:30pm on Friday.

A senior figure at the Parramatta mosque has confirmed that police searched the mosque to look for a black backpack which they believe Farhad used to carry the gun he used to kill Mr Cheng.

Police said the warrant was undertaken by arrangement with leadership at the mosque, who gave their full assistance to police.

Earlier, a police source said the teenager had been armed with a revolver and did not know Mr Cheng.

After shooting Mr Cheng, Farhad fired at officers who emerged from the building to respond to the incident, but was killed when special constables returned fire.

Earlier, senior law enforcement sources said it appeared the teenager had acted alone.

“The people there (at the mosque) went looking for him after prayer,” one source said.

“There is a fair bit of information that he acted alone.”

They said after prayer he changed into a black robe.

Neil El-Kadomi from the Parramatta Mosque said Farhad visited the building in the past on occasion but he did not know him by name.

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Video: GRAPHIC CONTENT: Video shows shooter outside Parramatta police headquarters (ABC News)

“Because he was very quiet nobody noticed him,” Mr El-Kadomi said.

“He’s not known in the mosque. He came to the mosque to heal himself before he did the crime, which is wrong.”

Mr El-Kadomi said the mosque had nothing to do with the shooting and did not condone it.

“The boy, he did it alone. He died and his motive died with him,” he said.

“You have to be an active person in society, you have to join others in building Australia.

“So, we don’t agree with what happened in Parramatta.

“We’ve got nothing to do with it and I hate the linking of the mosque with the crime.”

Shooter’s relative tipped off police

The ABC was told by a senior police source that it was the older brother of the Parramatta shooter who tipped off them off about the identity of Farhad.

It is also understood Farhad’s sister Shadi went missing on Thursday and flew out of Australia on a Singapore Airlines flight bound for Istanbul, and may be attempting to reach Iraq or Syria.

Her family told police she had taken all her belongings.

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Video: Parramatta shooting response mature, not panicked: security analyst (ABC News)

Police searched Farhad’s North Parramatta home and confiscated computer equipment.

ABC’s police source said the youth had been “carrying on” outside police headquarters for a few minutes before the shooting.

“He drew attention to himself to the extent some people caught it on their iPhones,” they said.

The gunman walked past a plain clothes female detective.

“She was wearing a business suit and she wasn’t carrying a gun,” a source said.

“This poor bloke [the victim] was apparently the first one to walk out of the building — he had a connection to the police force — that was it.”

Phone hook-up between Turnbull, Baird and Muslim leaders

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and NSW Premier Mike Baird have been holding talks with Muslim community leaders following the shooting.

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Video: Tackling radicalisation must involve Islamic community: Bishop (ABC News)

Ms Bishop said the issue of radicalisation must be addressed.

“So we’re certainly reaching out to the leaders of the Muslim community … but working with the families at a grassroots local level … it’s the families that will be a frontline of defence against radicalised young people … so we will be working very closely with them,” she said.

The ABC’s Fran Kelly told the Insiders program that a phone hook-up between “the Premier, the Police Commissioner and the Prime Minister with seven or eight members of the Muslim community” took place last night.

She said Mr Turnbull used the phone call to convey the message that “we have a remarkably cohesive society, respect is key to that and [urged] everyone to work together to expose preachers of hate”.

The ABC understands the community leaders were impressed by the move and communicated their willingness to work with governments. One leader said the conversation reset the relationship.

Muslim community leaders said they were shocked by the tragic shooting of Mr Cheng.

They called for more to be done to stop extremist leaders from recruiting vulnerable youths.

Sydney Muslim community leader Ahmad El-Hage said the Government only acted when extremist thoughts turn into acts of violence.

“And we tell them this is not correct we need to act way before that,” he said.

Mr El-Hage said the Government needed to focus on the extremist leaders rather than the young people they target.

Youth worker Sheikh Wesam Charkawi, who works with high school boys to counter radical ideas, said the acts of one person should not reflect upon the broader Muslim community.

He also said some of the youth he worked with feel marginalised.

“Some of them in their families feel that there’s a disconnect, some of them come from broken families and so there is an array of issues that can lead to criminality,” Mr Charkawi said.

He said despite youth being impressionable and often naive, nothing could justify what the shooter did.

Relative known to police and counter-terrorism authorities

As part of their investigation, police are now trying to trace the ownership and history of the revolver used by Farhad in the attack.

The ABC has been told the youth had never come to the attention of police.

“We don’t know anything about him,” the source said.

But it is understood a relative was known to law enforcement or intelligence agencies.

“[The relative] was a bit of a problem, he did come to the attention of police and counter-terrorism [authorities],” a source said.

One source confirmed the teenager was a Sunni Muslim who was born in Iran.

He said he was of Iraqi-Kurdish background and may have been a refugee.

“It is interesting he is a Kurd, the Kurds are among those bearing the brunt of ISIS, it doesn’t make any sense,” the source said.

‘He was callously murdered’: Civilian IT worker on his way home from work was shot dead at ‘very close range’ by a lone gunman outside police headquarters in Sydney’s west

  • Lone gunman opened fire outside police HQ before being shot dead
  • Civilian IT expert was also killed in double shooting at station in Sydney
  • Witnesses described seeing two bodies on the ground covered in sheets
  • Police allegedly warned about possible attack through intelligence sources

A lone gunman shot dead a civilian police IT expert at close range outside a force headquarters in a targeted attack which has been described as a ‘brutal’ and ‘callous murder’.

The black-clad assailant also fired a number of shots at special constables guarding the NSW Police station in Parramatta today before he was gunned down and killed by one of the officers.

Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione offered his condolences to the family of the unnamed police employee who was killed on his way home from work and said there was no further threat.

He refused to be drawn on whether the double shooting was terror-related, but admitted that officers from within the counter-terrorism command were working alongside the homicide squad. 

Commissioner Scipione said the gunman, who was wearing dark trousers and a flowing dark top, acted ‘aggressively’ after shooting the IT worker and brandished his gun in the street at 4.30pm.

A civilian IT expert working for police is believed to have been shot dead after a lone gunman opened fire outside a force headquarters in Sydney, pictured officers gather around a white sheet covering a body

A civilian IT expert working for police is believed to have been shot dead after a lone gunman opened fire outside a force headquarters in Sydney, pictured officers gather around a white sheet covering a body

The gunman has also reportedly been killed after an exchange of gunfire with special constables who guard the entrance of the main station in Parramatta 

Witnesses have described seeing the gunman, who was dressed all in black, running down the street brandishing a pistol at 4.30pm today just before he was shot, pictured is the scene outside the station

Witnesses have described seeing the gunman, who was dressed all in black, running down the street brandishing a pistol at 4.30pm today just before he was shot, pictured is the scene outside the station

 He said: ‘I have viewed a number of pieces of footage, I can tell you that this was a brutal crime. It was a terrible crime.

‘We’re attempting to identify a man who was seen to approach the victim and discharge one single shot. Subsequently the assailant remained in the street here in Charles Street before he fired several further shots at a special constable.

‘A number of special constables came out of the building and as they’ve emerged they’ve come under fire.

‘In the exchange that followed the gunman was shot and killed. An employee of the NSW police force has been callously murdered here today. This is a very sobering time for us.’

When asked whether police were warned about a possible attack at the station, Commissioner Scipione revealed there had been a number of alerts in 2014 and 2015 about remaining ‘vigilant’.

‘We have drawn officers back to the special warnings which are contained within alert 2015,’ he said.

‘We’ve refreshed that alert and yet again highlighted the importance of remaining vigilant and being ready to respond should they have to at any location but particularly around police stations. I want to ensure that we don’t jump to conclusions, as I’ve said. 

‘I’ve indicated that but we’re keeping an open mind. At this stage we’ve got nothing to link this event to any terrorist-related activity but we could not say that that wasn’t the case. So clearly you would understand we have officers from within the counter-terrorism command.’ 

The attack occurred outside a daycare centre used by police force families and the children were locked inside for four hours after the shooting with a dead body at their doorstep.

Detectives have launched a ‘critical incident investigation’ and confirmed that two people had been killed after a number of shots were fired.

Witnesses have reported seeing two bodies lying on the ground covered in white sheets (pictured)

An ambulance NSW spokeswoman said paramedics were on the scene at Charles St, in the city’s CBD

An ambulance NSW spokeswoman said paramedics were on the scene at Charles St, in the city’s CBD

Detectives have not yet established the identity of the deceased, according to a spokesman

Detectives have not yet established the identity of the deceased, according to a spokesman

Detectives have launched a 'critical incident investigation' and confirmed that two people had been killed after a number of shots were fired

Witnesses have described seeing the gunman, who was dressed all in black, running down the street brandishing a pistol at 4.30pm today just before he was shot.

They also reported seeing two bodies lying on the ground covered in white sheets.

Real estate agent Edwin Almeida said he saw a man with a gun screaming and pacing up and down outside the building on Charles Street.

He said he then saw the man lying on the ground with a police officer pointing a gun at him.

‘We looked out the window, saw security guards and what appeared to be a plain clothes police officer with gun drawn pointing at the person that was now lying on the floor surrounded by a pool of blood,’ he said.

He wrote on his Facebook page: ‘Four five shots fired by man outside our office and in front of NSW police head quarters. Man shot down by guards and detectives.’

A man called Nathan told 2GB Radio that he saw a man lying on the street surrounded by blood.

‘I saw the guy dressed in black on the pavement with blood everywhere,’ he said.

Channel Seven helicopter pilot Andrew Millett said: ‘We can see two bodies on the ground approximately 200m away from police headquarters’.

Ambulances were called to the scene at 4:35pm after ‘reports of two patients’, a spokeswoman said.

Officers in body armour have been seen patrolling the Parramatta CBD and guarding train stations, pictured is Charles Street

Officers in body armour have been seen patrolling the Parramatta CBD and guarding train stations, pictured is Charles Street

A section of Charles Street (pictured) between Macquarie Street and Hassall Street has been cordoned off and is currently being manned by police

An investigation is believed to be underway into whether the shooter had been recently charged by a detective from one of the State Crime Command squads

It is understood one of the victims is not a sworn officer but a civilian employee from the IT department of NSW Police.

Finance worker Rizwan Shaikh, who lives opposite the police headquarters, said he heard the shooting.

‘I finished work and was in the shower and I heard the gunshots,’ Mr Shaikh told The Daily Telegraph.

‘I heard six or seven gunshots and it was pretty loud. In two to three minutes there were cops everywhere.’

Miffy Hong, 33, said her mother called her just after 5pm to tell her she could see a body covered by a sheer near police headquarters.

‘She told me come back I don’t know what’s happening, she doesn’t speak English,’ she said.

The NSW Police Force building is home to the State Crime Command, which includes the homicide, drug, Middle Eastern organised crime and gangs squads.

An investigation is believed to be underway into whether the shooter had been recently charged by a detective from one of the State Crime Command squads.

Police have shut down the whole area and drivers have been told to avoid the scene at Charles Street.

Parents of young children locked inside Goodstart Early Learning, just metres from where the shooting took place, have voiced fears about their welfare.

Dennis Entriken, whose three-year-old daughter has not been allowed to leave, told Daily Mail Australia: ‘It’s very frustrating. One of the dead bodies is right out of the front of the chilcare centre.

‘What did they see, what did they hear? Is she scared? Is she OK?

‘They’ve told us she’s safe which is good… it’s the unknown which is the issue.’

He said police had warned him that she would not be out anytime soon and said there were around 10 children inside.

‘If she saw nothing and she’s blissfully unaware then that’s good,’ he said.

A section of Charles Street between Macquarie Street and Hassall Street has been cordoned off and is currently being manned by police.

Officers in body armour have been seen patrolling the Parramatta CBD and guarding train stations.

Witnesses described hearing what sounded like a car tyre exploding before buildings near the headquarters were evacuated.

Several roads in Parramatta were blocked after the shooting and helicopters were seen circling overhead, pictured is Charles Street

Several roads in Parramatta were blocked after the shooting and helicopters were seen circling overhead, pictured is Charles Street

Two people have been hurt and there are reports of a shooting outside police headquarters in Parramatta, in Sydney’s west

Two people have been hurt and there are reports of a shooting outside police headquarters in Parramatta, in Sydney’s west

Witnesses described hearing what sounded like a car tyre exploding before buildings near the headquarters were evacuated

The Australian

Mr Scipione said today’s incident was a targeted killing.

He said the victim, believed to be an IT worker, was “callously murdered here today”. “This was a brutal crime, this was a terrible crime,” he said.

The identity of the gunman is not yet known, Mr Scipione said, and neither is the motive for the killing.

He said the victim “was simply leaving work,” and offered his condolences to the family.

Police secure the scene of the shooting. Picture: Phillip Rogers

How today’s events unfolded

A massive police operation is under way in Parramatta in Sydney’s west after two people were shot dead outside NSW Police Force headquarters.

The operation began about 4.30pm today and police are advising people to avoid Charles Street and Hassall Street as a 2km exclusion zone has been set up.

The Daily Telegraph reports that police had warning of the attack through intelligence sources and one victim of the shooting “was a public servant working for NSW Police.”

“He was shot before (the) shooter was killed,” they report.

It is then believed “the gunman was shot by NSW Special Constables.”

The shooter, “believed to be of Middle Eastern appearance and dressed in black”, according to The Daily Telegraph, “launched an attack from the street, peppering the front of the building with bullets.”

“He shot a police IT expert before being gunned by special constables who guard the entrance,” they report.

Police said a critical incident investigation had been launched following the deaths of two people.

“The incident occurred outside the NSW Police headquarters building on Charles Street about 4.30pm today after a number of shots were fired,” the service said in a statement.

“It appears an officer has discharged his weapon, responding to a report that a person had been shot.

“Two people have died at the scene.” It said officers were still to establish the identity of those killed.

Two people were reportedly shot dead outside NSW Police headquarters.

The attack happened close to a childcare centre used by police force families.

Goodstart Early Learning centre staff member Ashmi Golwala said she heard at least three “loud sounds”.

“They sounded like crackers and I went outside to see what was happening and a police lady told me to stay inside,” she told The Australian.

A 2km exclusion zone has been set up around the NSW Police headquarters.

Real estate agent Edwin Almeida says he heard shots and saw a man in a black gown pacing and waving a gun outside the police headquarters.

Mr Almeida said his frightened staff ran into their office and heard three to four gun shots.

“We looked out the window, saw security guards and what appeared to be a plain clothes police officer with gun drawn and pointing at the person that was now lying on the floor surrounded by a pool of blood.”

Mr Almeida filmed part of the attack (see video above) and later described it to friends.

“There was blood everywhere … after the security and detectives fired on him,” he posted on Facebook.

“Staff being escorted to railway station by police. Great support from NSW police. These guys are bloody awesome.”

Some reports suggested the attack was a drive-by shooting, but Mr Almeida disputed this.

“This guy was not driving that’s for sure. He didn’t appear to be wanting to get away,” he said.

— Additional words: Rick Morton, with AAP

Police on Hassell St as night falls following the shooting. Picture: Jonathan Ng

Andrea Lehane: Mother struck in ‘callous’ mini-motorbike hit-run to have life support switched off


These pathetic weasels need to be  found, dobbed in, whatever…Gutless and those who are protecting them are even weaker. STAND UP

  James Lehane says his wife Andrea will be remembered as an extraordinary person. (Supplied: Andrea Lehane fundraising page)

A mother of two who was critically injured when she was struck by a motorcyclist in a “callous” hit-run will have her life support switched off, her husband has confirmed.

Andrea Lehane, 34, was walking through a pedestrian crossing at a Carrum Downs shopping centre in Melbourne’s south-east when she was bowled over by a mini-motorcycle.

CCTV captured the moment she was struck. It shows a group of motorbike riders speeding off after the collision.

Ms Lehane’s husband James issued a statement to Macquarie Radio saying his wife had suffered “unsurvivable brain damage” in the crash.

“The team at the Alfred [Hospital] have done an extraordinary job but the damage done has been confirmed to be too great,” he said.

Mr Lehane said his wife’s life support would be switched off at some point today or tomorrow.

He said, for his wife’s final act of generosity, the family had consented to organ donation.

“I will be taking her children, her three-year-old son and four-year-old daughter to see their mum for the last time before this occurs.”

Mr Lehane said in the statement that his wife would be remembered as an extraordinary person.

“She was very content in her life and loved and cared for her family and friends. She always put them first,” he said.

“She will always be remembered and missed. Words cannot explain how I feel.”

Yesterday, Victoria Police Inspector Bernie Rankin appealed for the motorcyclists involved to come forward, saying he was certain they knew what had happened.

“It was just callous,” he said.

“Even the motorcycles following the offending one that struck the woman saw what happened, saw the whole thing unfold in front of them.

“They were aware she hit that ground very heavily and of course, they would also be aware the likelihood of her suffering serious injuries was high.”

Mini-bikes ‘a recipe for disaster’

The mini-motorcycle that hit Ms Lehane was most likely an illegal cheap import from China, according to the Victorian Motorcycle Council.

Vice-chairman Peter Baulch said they were slipping through a loophole in legislation and design rules.

“It’s just a recipe for disaster as we’ve seen this week,” he told 774 ABC Melbourne.

“I’m not normally a supporter of regulation for regulation’s sake … but clearly there is a void or a gap in our current regulations that allows these illegal bikes to be imported and sold.

“Unfortunately it puts the burden back on police to enforce the existing regulations in respect of helmets, protective clothing and the like.”

Mr Baulch said history indicated banning the motorbikes would not work.

“Unfortunately experience tells us that when these culprits are apprehended they get a gentle slap on the wrist from authorities — there’s no real deterrent to prevent this recurring,” he said.

Frankston Council ban on mini-motorbikes difficult to enforce

Frankston Council, which takes in Carrum Downs, banned unregistered mini-motorcycles in 2007 under local law after complaints about noise and risk of serious injury.

Mayor Sandra Mayer said police had seized eight motorbikes in the past year in the area while the council had impounded another 10.

But she said it was a difficult problem to tackle.

“We used to have community safety meetings a couple of times a year in the area and the police would always say, ‘Well, we can’t very well chase someone on a bike through a park in a police vehicle’,” she said.

“One thing you can do as a resident, if you know where these people live, if they’re your neighbours, then notify police.”

Bedside vigil kept for Melbourne mother Andrea Lehane after Carrum Downs hit and run

September 25, 2015 – 10:23AM

Chloe Booker, Marissa Calligeros, Rania Spooner

Monkey-bike mows down mum-of-two

Andrea Lehane remains in a critical condition in hospital after one in a group of five youths on motorbikes struck her in a Carrum Downs car park on Wednesday.

A Melbourne mother who was run down and left for dead by a gang of young hoons on mini “monkey” motorbikes has suffered “unsurvivable brain damage”.

The family of Andrea Lehane, who described her as “extraordinary wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunty, niece and friend”, confirmed her condition as they kept a vigil at her bedside, radio station 3AW reported on Friday.

Ms Lehane, 34, was struck walking across a pedestrian crossing in the Carrum Downs Regional Shopping Centre car park about 5.10pm on Wednesday.

Andrea Lehane with husband James Lehane.Andrea Lehane with husband James Lehane. Photo: Facebook

She will leave behind two children aged three and four.

Her distraught husband, James, released a statement on Friday morning, saying his wife would not survive the incident.

“On Wednesday afternoon my family’s lives changed in an instant from a careless and avoidable accident,” he said.

Andrea Lehane is a mother of two.Andrea Lehane is a mother of two. Photo: Facebook

“As a result of the impact, my wife suffered unsurvivable brain damage.

“The team at The Alfred have done an extraordinary job, but the damage has been confirmed to be too great.

“Being a nurse, Andy was always keen on organ donation, so as a family we have consented to her going through a complete organ donation process.

“Some time today or tomorrow she will go into theatre, with her life support machines, for her final act of caring and giving.

“I will be taking her children, her three-year-old son and four-year-old daughter, to see their mum for the last time before this occurs.

“She was an extraordinary wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunty, niece and friend. She was very content in her life and loved and cared for her family and friends – she always put them first. She will always be remembered and missed. Words cannot explain how I feel.”

Mr Lehane has requested privacy for his family, saying they would like time to grieve.

Ms Lehane was flown to The Alfred hospital in a critical condition with severe head and chest injuries on Wednesday.

Police described the behaviour of the five motorcycle riders, believed to be teenage boys, as “callous”.

Confronting CCTV footage shows them roaring through the busy carpark and slamming into Ms Lehane as she nears the end of the pedestrian crossing.

The first rider passed her, then performed a wheelie, while the second bike, carrying two people, struck her.

The two boys fell off the bike, after which the passenger ran off, while the rider jumped back on his bike and sped off.

One woman, who asked not to be named, described the horrific sight of seeing her laying face down on the ground.

“Everyone was just trying to help her out,” she said, still visibly shaken.

“There was just blood everywhere, flowing everywhere.

“They need to do something to make it safer.”

She said one bystander had jumped into a nearby car and chased after the group of hoons fleeing on their bikes.

“My thoughts are for her now,” she said, after laying a card among the flowers.

Meanwhile, local residents have likened the shopping centre car park to a “drag strip”.

“Everyone drives way too fast around it, like a drag strip, and definitely not enough lighting at night. She was hit on the crossing!” one woman said on Facebook.”Too awful for words.”

Residents placed flowers and a teddy bear next to the pedestrian crossing where the woman was struck, along with notes expressing support and sympathy.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with you, get well soon,” one note reads.

“We weep for all, we pray for humanity,” another states.

Detective Inspector Bernie Rankin, from the Major Collision Investigation Unit, said it was not yet clear whether the youths were riding “monkey” bikes or other motorcycles.

Frankston Council, which takes in Carrum Downs, was the first in Victoria to ban the bikes in 2007.

It is illegal to ride most monkey bikes, also known as pocket bikes, on public roads or footpaths.

But is not illegal to own one for use on a private property, such as a gated farm and the small vehicles can easily be bought online.

In general, the bikes have a top speed of 70km/h.

Most monkey bikes, formally known as miniature motorcycles, do not comply with the Australian Design Rules and cannot be registered as a motorcycle.

“Riding a monkey bike without a valid motorcycle licence means a rider will be committing two offences, including driving an unregistered vehicle and driving without a licence,” said Robyn Seymour, the director of vehicle and road use policy at VicRoads.

However some monkey bikes, including a line manufactured by Honda, do comply with Australian Design Rules and, therefore, can be registered.It is understood those select bikes have the right compliance plates to meet Australian road safety standards.

Frankston Council, which takes in Carrum Downs, was the first in Victoria to ban monkey bikes entirely in 2007.

Anyone with any information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.



7-Eleven management vow to fully refund all exploited workers (Really? let’s see)


Senior 7-Eleven management have apologised “unreservedly” to exploited workers and vowed to fully refund underpaid staff, even if they are now overseas.

A Senate Committee held a special public hearing in Melbourne to examine the exploitation of workers at the chain store, as part of an inquiry into Australia’s temporary work visa program.

The convenience stores have come under scrutiny following an ABC Four Corners investigation which revealed the company was systematically paying its workers about half the minimum wage.

Many of the staff were foreigners who were being forced to work in contravention of their visa conditions.

The inquiry today heard the underpaying of staff in the convenience store chain was systemic and had been happening for decades.

7-Eleven Australian chairman Russell Withers admitted the behaviour was abhorrent.

“I want to stress that this has been highly embarrassing and I apologise unreservedly to any worker that has worked in a 7-Eleven store who has not been paid correctly,” he said.

New methods of staff exploitation were revealed during the inquiry, including some franchise owners who charged workers tens of thousands of dollars to secure a working visa.

Mohammed Rashid Ullat Thodi lost his job as a result of speaking out about the pay scam.

He told the inquiry some store owners had charged workers $30,000 to $70,000 to sponsor them on a visa.

“While it could be either an arrangement of taking the money off their pay, like if you work this many hours you could get this many pay,” he said.

He said the money went straight to the franchise owners.

Mr Withers maintained rogue franchisees were the cause of the problem.

“It is simply not in our knowledge whether the franchisee employee has been underpaid or not,” he told the inquiry. This prick has built his empire on this very lie!!!

But during the inquiry consumer advocate Michael Fraser, who said he alerted 7-Eleven to the problem in 2012, questioned how senior management did not know of the problem.

“How does an Indian in Melbourne, an Indian franchisee and a Pakistani franchisee in Sydney, and a Chinese franchisee in Brisbane, how do they all know the same scam?” Mr Fraser asked during the inquiry.

“How is it possible that me with no budget can stumble on such a big wage scandal buying a loaf of bread yet head office with all their oversight find no systemic problem?”

7-Eleven said it should know next month how many of its 620 franchisees underpaid their staff.

Calls for workers to be given visa amnesty

Tens of thousands of workers have potentially been affected. Most are on visas restricting their working time to 20 hours per week.

Many have been forced to work 40 hours, but paid for only 20.

Complaints were met with threats that they would be reported for breaching their visas.

It has led to calls from lawyers that anyone who has breached their visa conditions while working for 7-Eleven be given an amnesty.

The Greens member for the seat of Melbourne, Adam Bandt, said it was crucial the workers were able to give evidence free of any threat of deportation.

“Something is wrong in Australia where the head of 7-Eleven is a millionaire if not a billionaire and the people who are working in 7-Eleven stores are getting paid for only half of the hours they work and threatened with deportation back to their home country if they complain,” he said.

“We’ve heard from many, many people now that they want to complain, to be paid the fair Australian minimum wage, but they’re told that if they do it, they’ll be reported to the Immigration Department and deported.

“Now that’s not fair.

“These people are working long hours for low pay.

“They shouldn’t also have to face [a] threat of deportation if they speak up and do the right thing.”

7-Eleven has set up an independent panel to investigate the underpayments.

Craig Handasyde: Former DHS disability worker jailed for 12 months over sexual abuse of male clients


 They always have an excuse these snake bellies…12 friggin months for OVER a decade of abusing vulnerable people in his professional care as a Department of Human Services disability support worker.Most of his eight victims, aged in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, were unable to properly communicate and some were deaf, blind and could not talk.


A former Department of Human Services disability support worker who sexually abused a number of disabled male clients has been jailed for 12 months.

Craig Handasyde, from Croydon, abused his victims in a number of residential facilities between 1997 and 2011.

Most of his eight victims, aged in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, were unable to properly communicate and some were deaf, blind and could not talk.

Handasyde abused his victims at the residential units, at swimming pools, in showers and in one case at a motel, during outings or “reward” trips “put in place by the DHS”.

In some instances of abuse, Handasyde would walk around the DHS facilities naked and get into bed with his victims as they lay helpless. On other occasions he masturbated clients, and induced them to masturbate him.

On at least one occasion he ignored attempts by one victim to push him away.

He handed himself into police last year after confessing the abuse to his wife and a pastor at his church.

Handasyde pleaded guilty to 11 counts of committing indecent acts against a person with a cognitive impairment.

In sentencing Handasyde, Judge Gavan Meredith said the families of his victims felt a “sense of loss and betrayal” at the “gross and egregious breach of the trust that was placed in [him]”.

Your formative years were marked by your bullying and a sense of isolation, you were described as passive and unable to assert yourself.

However, the judge said the offending was not likely to have ever come to light if Handasyde had not confessed.

He also said Handasyde was genuinely remorseful, had pleaded guilty early and was at low risk of re-offending.

The court heard Handasyde, 48, was also responding well to treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, which stemmed from physical abuse by his father as a child, and from witnessing the physical and sexual abuse of his mother by his father.

Family members of a number of Handasyde’s victims were in court to hear the verdict, as was Handasyde’s wife.

Perpetrator’s sexuality was ‘repressed’ by religious upbringing

Judge Meredith said Handasyde’s mother confided in him during his early adolescence that his father was sexually and physically abusing her, which left him feeling helpless.

Handasyde realised he was gay when he was young, but felt unable to express this due to his religious upbringing, and was bullied at school.

“Your formative years were marked by your bullying and a sense of isolation,” Judge Meredith said.

“You were described as passive and unable to assert yourself.”

Handasyde trained as an orchardist, but eventually gained qualifications to work in the disability sector.

He confided in his wife before their marriage that he was sexually attracted to other men, but promised not to act on his feelings.

The couple had eight children, but an earlier hearing was told Handasyde’s wife believed sex should only be for procreation.

Handasyde began watching gay pornography while working in the residential units, and the offending often took place after this.

He confessed to his wife in 2013 that he was watching gay pornography, and later confessed to abusing the men.

He then resigned from the DHS.

Long history of mental health issues, now being addressed

Judge Meredith said Handasyde was suffering from “chronic” post-traumatic stress disorder, which had only come to light since his offending was revealed, but that expert evidence suggested he had “significantly improved” with treatment.

The judge said Handasyde has also been assessed by experts as being at low risk of offending, and that “a constant theme was [his] sincere remorse and desire to make amends for [his] offending”.

Handasyde’s prospects of rehabilitation are good, the judge said, but it was necessary that he serve a term of imprisonment, despite the defence arguing that a community corrections order was appropriate.

Handasyde will be subject to an order for two years after his release.

Judge Meredith said that if Handasyde had not confessed and pleaded guilty, he would have imposed a sentence of two-and-a-half years.

Victim’s family trusted Handasyde, feel let down by department

Outside court after the hearing, the mother of one of Handasyde’s victims said her son had been scarred by the abuse, and was now on medication to deal with the trauma.

“Because he was there such a long time, you think you can trust them,” she said.

“[My son] went to Melbourne when he was three years old, they told me it was the right thing to do because there was no education for him in Geelong.

“So that’s what happened and I trusted the people, I trusted the department and obviously that’s not happened. They haven’t looked after him.”

From other news sites:

  • The Age: Ex-DHS carer Craig Handasyde jailed for one year for abusing disabled men
  • Geelong Advertiser: DHS carer jailed for string of sexual abuse crimes against people with a disability
  • The Australian: Ex-Vic carer jailed for sexual abuse
  • 3AW Radio: Craig Handasyde, 48, sentenced to 12 months jail over sexual abuse of eight disabled men in care

    DHS disability worker admits abusing deaf, blind patients

    By court reporter Peta Carlyon

    Updated 31 Aug 2015, 5:49pmMon 31 Aug 2015, 5:49pm

    A former Department of Human Services disability support worker whose lawyer said he was deeply religious and in denial about this sexuality has admitted abusing a series of male patients over 13 years across Melbourne’s east.

    Craig Handasyde, 47, of Croydon, pleaded guilty in the Victorian County Court to 11 charges of committing an indecent act with a cognitively impaired person by a worker.

    Key points

    • Craig Handasyde pleaded guilty to 11 charges
    • Victims were blind, deaf and unable to communicate
    • Handasyde wanted to appear to be a happily married heterosexual man, court heard
    • Victim became “very disturbed” after abuse

    The abuse occurred across residential facilities in a number of suburbs, and in some cases involved long-term clients between 1998 and 2011.

    Most of his victims, aged in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, were unable to properly communicate and some were deaf, blind and could not talk.

    Handasyde also abused his victims at swimming pools, in showers and in one case a motel, during outings or “reward” trips “put in place by the DHS”.

    In some instances of abuse, Handasyde would walk around the DHS facilities naked and get into bed with his victims as they lay helpless.

    On at least one occasion he ignored repeated attempts by one victim to push him away.

    The court heard Handasyde was a highly qualified disability development services officer with an advanced diploma in disability work.

    He had also undertaken a range of extra courses over the years, including “dual disability” and “communications about behaviour for better outcomes”.

    Handasyde resigned from the DHS in 2013.

    He handed himself in to the sex crimes unit at the Knox police station last year because he “wanted to make admissions about sexually abusing DHS clients over 13 years”.

    The court heard Handasyde was a religious man who wanted to clear his conscience in the eyes of God.

    Two pastors were among 13 people to provide references for him.

    ‘A happily married heterosexual man’

    Handasyde’s lawyer Paul Higham told the court his client was deeply religious.

    He was also homosexual, Mr Higham said, but was intent on presenting himself publicly as “a happily married, heterosexual Christian father,” leading to a secret life.

    Craig, you were meant to look after him, not cause him distress. You were meant to care for him, not abuse him.

    Victim’s mother

    The court heard Handasyde met his wife within the church and wrote her a letter before they got married, telling her he was “same-sex attracted”.

    “She struggled to accept it, but accept it she did,” said Mr Higham.

    The couple had eight children who were home-schooled and the court heard Handasyde’s wife believed sex was for procreation only.

    “What emerges is a picture of a man who is extremely passive and lacks the ability to assert himself,” Mr Higham told the court.

    Mr Higham said Handasyde “prefers harmony over conflict”, and described his client’s denial of a large part of his identity as “a tragedy”.

    Handasyde’s wife was in court and wept as their home life was detailed to the families of her husband’s victims.

    ‘I trusted you with my son’: Mother of victim

    The courtroom was packed with the parents and relatives of the men Handasyde’s had abused.

    The mother of one victim told the court Handasyde’s offending had turned her son into a “very disturbed young man”.

    “Craig Handasyde ruined his happy nature,” she said.

    “Craig, you were meant to look after him, not cause him distress.

    “You were meant to care for him, not abuse him.”

    The woman told Handasyde she had welcomed him into her family’s home on many occasions and felt betrayed.

    “You enjoyed our food and hospitality as a thank you for bringing him home,” she said.

    “I always worried whether I’d done the right thing, sending him to Melbourne.

    “You’ve proved me right. I trusted you with my son who I love so much.”

    The father of another victim told the court his son “could not even understand simple verbal statements” and would “never be able to care for himself”.

    The man said he and his wife entrusted their son to a trusted care provider in the DHS and “for many years we thought he was safe”.

    “We are very disturbed,” the victim’s father said.

    “We can’t ask him about how he felt … the thought of what he [Handasyde] might have been doing … the real torture is not knowing.”

    The victim’s father told the court, he and his wife had noticed a marked change in their son’s mental state 15 years ago, when he became more aggressive.

    “At the time, there was no reason for his behaviour change,” he said.

    “In hindsight, we now wonder if he could have been affected by sexual abuse.”

    He told the court, his son would not have been able to tell anyone about the abuse or warn others who were vulnerable and exposed.

    Handasyde is expected to be sentenced at a later date.

    First posted 31 Aug 2015, 3:09pmMon 31 Aug 2015, 3:09pm

    DHS carer jailed for string of sexual abuse crimes against people with a disability

  • DHS carer jailed for sex abuse

    Craig Handasyde.

    A GEELONG mother has vowed to continue to fight for her disabled son’s safety after his carer of 15 years was today jailed for sexually abusing him.

    The mother, who can’t be named for legal reasons, said she didn’t think the one-year jail term former Department of Human Services disability worker Craig Gilbert Handasyde, 48, received was adequate but she was relieved to see him behind bars.

    Handasyde pleaded guilty to 11 counts of indecent act with a person with a cognitive disability by a care worker — including three which covered multiple offences — over a 13-year period of offending against eight victims.

    The mother told Geelong Advertiser all the victims’ families were hurting and now didn’t know who they could trust.

    She said her once-happy son was on more anxiety medication and was deeply traumatised.

    The court heard he had repeatedly tried to fend off Handasyde, who had cuddled, masturbated and exposed himself to his victims.


    “The only way to stop it happening again is to speak out,” she said.

    “All through (my son’s) life I’ve had to fight.”

    The mother hopes to see changes made at DHS facilities including CCTV in common areas and a minimum of two staff on at all times.

    In sentencing Handasyde to jail and a two-year Community Corrections Order, Judge Gavan Meredith said the victims were defenceless and dependent on Handasyde and their difficulty communicating ensured they couldn’t raise the alarm.

    Judge Meredith said the families’ Victim Impact Statements spoke of how the offending had caused them to doubt their decision to place their loved one in care.

    He accepted the crimes could only be prosecuted due to Handasyde’s confession and that he would find prison difficult due to his depression and post-traumatic stress, but said his “gross and egregious breach of trust” required it.

    Judge Meredith said the community must expect significant punishment for abusing a position of trust. He ordered Handasyde be under supervision and receive psychological treatment for the duration of the CCO.

    “Every attendance will serve as a reminder of the inappropriateness of your behaviour,” he said.


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.


Former state director of the Victorian Liberal Party, Damien Mantach, busted embezzling $1.5 million in the election campaign funds.

money hungry 2

Embezzlement allegation: The Liberal Party will have to rebuild trust

The Drum


Fri 21 Aug 2015, 9:58am

It’s the thousands of ordinary Liberal Party members who should feel most outraged at the alleged embezzlement of $1.5 million of campaign funds. And the party hierarchy will have to work hard to earn their trust back, writes Terry Barnes.

The Victorian Liberal Party is in a state of deep shock after revelations its former state director, Damien Mantach, is accused of embezzling $1.5 million of party funds over a number of years.

While investigations are continuing, Victorian Liberal president, Michael Kroger, has emailed party members saying that Mantach is the only person in the frame, and all will be done to recover as much of the missing funds as possible.

It appears a breathtaking $1.5 million of party funds was diverted for personal benefit. Victorian Liberal parliamentary leader, Matthew Guy, said that what was taken was “a very significant portion of the money raised by the party in fundraising … People did a lot of work to get that. We all feel completely gutted and furious”.

There certainly will be former Victorian Liberal MPs closely defeated in last November’s state election whose anger will be, like Guy’s, white-hot, sharing his view that the missing funds could have saved their campaigns. Current marginal seat federal MPs will feel likewise. But having escaped with their parliamentary pensions or severance packages, they personally got off lightly.

What really angers and disappoints about Mantach’s alleged actions is that they were not really stealing from a mere corporate entity, the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party of Australia. Nor did they ruin the large corporate donors and high net worth individuals who donate to political parties, because that is part of what they do to build political networks, relationships and influence.

No, the grand embezzlement and the governance failures that allowed it to happen are above all an utter betrayal of, and insult to, thousands of ordinary Liberal Party members and supporters across Victoria who are not wealthy or personally powerful but are the soul of the party.

They’re the ones who turn out in all weather at election times to support MPs and candidates, door-knock, stuff letterboxes and talk up the Liberal cause to anyone who will listen.

They’re the ones who greet you at the polling booth on election days with a smile and a how-to-vote card, and look forward to bantering with voters and their counterparts from other parties.

They’re the ones who faithfully attend branch meetings, local party events, run the trivia and soup nights, and buy the tickets in the raffle that inevitably is a part of any political gathering – and donate back the prizes.

They’re the ones who drive up to hundreds of kilometres to attend party councils and pre-selection conventions.

They’re the ones who organise local electorate fundraising functions, work tirelessly to make them well-attended and successful, and cheerfully endure the proverbial rubber chicken and drinks at bar prices, because they buy their own tickets as well as sell them.

They’re the ones who pay membership subscriptions or respond to bigwigs’ circular appeals for donations. Many may not be able to afford to give much, but their trickles join to become a funding river for the party: a river, it seems, that can easily be dipped into by the unscrupulous.

And they’re the ones who are most entitled to feel gutted and angry at what has happened.

As a group, most ordinary members of the Liberal Party are older and more conservative than their MPs. They are often retired, and volunteer for party work because it gives them the satisfaction of furthering a cause, or an MP or candidate, they believe in passionately.

Others are young activists with stars in their eyes and idealism in their hearts.

Unlike the likes of Malcolm Turnbull, most Liberal rank-and-file members don’t have palatial mansions to go home to, nor much spare cash. Contrary to the Liberal silvertail image, many members and local Liberal supporters are students, pensioners or self-funded retirees on very modest incomes, and donate what they often can ill afford.

Yet they do so willingly and turn out for the party because they believe, as the Victorian Division’s website is bannered, that “The Liberal Party exists to provide high quality governments that empower people to solve the major challenges they face in their lives”.

This grassroots faith is what’s been shaken to its core by what has happened.

The Liberal organisation will recover and be reformed. As incoming Victorian president earlier this year, taking office just as Mantach left, Kroger was refreshingly open and honest with his members and the public as soon as the appalling situation was confirmed. That welcome candour is a good start to rebuilding trust in a crisis.

But just as with former Health Services Union leaders Craig Thomson, Michael Williamson and Kathy Jackson, this is yet another case of an elected or appointed official feeling somehow entitled to take advantage of the so-called “little people” who are their rank-and-file members, even though ultimately they owed everything to those they betrayed.

This week’s revelations, be they Mantach’s alleged activities or Jackson’s humiliation in court, should remind elected and appointed office holders in political parties and politically-active organisations alike that respecting the trust of their members and the public is fundamental to public life and a healthy democracy. Their position and status is a conferred privilege, not a personal fiefdom.

Fortunately, most of these office holders, across the political spectrum, work very hard to earn and retain that trust.

The Victorian Liberal Party will likely find, as the HSU has found, and indeed as federal MPs are finding with ongoing public anger over abused parliamentary “entitlements”, when the bond of trust with their ordinary members and supporters is broken, it is very, very hard to restore. But if it looks to its grass roots members, and respects and honours their values, aspirations and commitment in reforming its governance and accountability, the party will recover better and stronger for this scarifying experience.

Terry Barnes is a policy consultant, former senior Howard government adviser and member of the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party. Twitter: @TerryBarnes5.

Tasmanian Liberals assure members former state director repaid all money

Thu 20 Aug 2015, 7:23pm

The Tasmanian Liberals have assured members the party is not affected by allegations former state director Damien Mantach stole $1.5 million from the election fund of the Victorian Liberal Party.

The police fraud squad is investigating the allegations against Mr Mantach, who served as state director in both Tasmania and Victoria.

The money is alleged to have vanished over four years to fund Mr Mantach’s lifestyle in Victoria.

Tasmanian Liberal Party president Geoff Page used Facebook to confirmed that Mr Mantach did owe the Tasmanian branch money in 2008.

“I have today been advised that Mr Mantach had in 2008 a liability for personal expenses to the Tasmanian division totalling $47,981.78, which was fully repaid by Mr Mantach to the division upon his departure in March of that year,” he said.

Mr Page went on to assure members he was confident no other funds had gone missing.

“As the debt was settled in full the Division considered the matter closed,” he said.

“The Tasmanian division has robust internal financial processes which, in keeping with our obligations to our membership have been periodically reviewed and continually improved since 2008 and are annually audited.”

Police to investigate Liberal Party $1.5m embezzlement claims

By Jean Edwards

Thu 20 Aug 2015, 7:27pm

The police fraud squad is investigating allegations former Victorian Liberal Party state director Damien Mantach embezzled around $1.5 million of election campaign funds.

The money is alleged to have vanished over four years to fund Mr Mantach’s lifestyle.

An audit of the party’s finances after last year’s state election loss uncovered unauthorised financial transactions linked to Mr Mantach, with money missing from both state and federal campaign funds.

The Victoria Police fraud and extortion squad has been called in to investigate.

Liberal Party president Michael Kroger said Mr Mantach had admitted to wrongdoing.

“We feel profoundly betrayed and terribly disappointed with what’s happened,” Mr Kroger said.

Key points:

  • Liberal Party accuses former state director of embezzling $1.5m
  • Alleged theft happened over four years
  • Victoria Police fraud and extortion squad called in to investigate
  • Party believes Mantach took the money to fund his lifestyle

He said the party believed Mr Mantach had acted alone.

“We’re not aware that anyone at the party head office or any officials had any involvement at all,” he said.

It also emerged that Mr Mantach repaid tens of thousands of dollars during his time as state director of the Tasmanian branch.

In a letter to members posted on Facebook, Tasmanian Liberal president Geoff Page said in March 2008 that when he left the role, Mr Mantach fully repaid a liability of nearly $48,000 for personal expenses.

Mr Page said the division considered the matter closed and had robust internal financial processes.

Mr Kroger said he did not believe the missing money influenced the 2014 election result, or that it would affect the next federal election.

Liberal leader Matthew Guy said the party was furious at what he called a “pretty basic effort at embezzlement”.

“We want our money back,” he said.

“We want this matter sent to the police and we will be doing everything we can to ensure that justice is done.

“I saw someone making a comment that we’re white hot with anger, that’s just the start of it.”

Mr Kroger said the missing money was confined to the party’s Victorian division and he was confident some of it could be recovered through assets bought with the funds.

Mr Kroger conceded the Liberal Party had failed to properly monitor spending.

“Obviously it should have been picked up years ago — it wasn’t,” he said.

Former premier Denis Napthine, who led the party during last year’s campaign, said he was surprised and bitterly disappointed by the allegations.

The party’s administrative committee met this morning to discuss how to deal with the missing money.

Mr Mantach has been contacted for comment.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 20/08/2015

Reporter: Madeleine Morris

Victoria’s Liberal Party has been blind-sided by claims a former Director stole $1.5 million of funds with the fraud squad investigating allegations and branch members asking if other financial dealings are suspect.


SABRA LANE, PRESENTER: Victoria’s Liberal Party has been blindsided by allegations its former director stole $1.5 million of party funds.

The party believes Damian Mantach siphoned off the money using fake invoices and Victoria police is now investigating.

Liberal politicians are furious and say the loss is a slap in the face to party members.

Late today, the Tasmanian Liberal Party confirmed Mr Mantach had to repay tens of thousands of dollars in personal expenses he racked up while director of that state’s party.

Madeleine Morris reports.

LIBERAL PARTY MEMBER: We’re white hot with anger. That’s just the start of it.

DENIS NAPTHINE, FORMER VICTORIAN PREMIER: I’m surprised, I’m shocked, I’m bitterly disappointed.

MADELEINE MORRIS, REPORTER: Sombre-faced and genuinely shocked, Victorian Liberal MPs arrived this morning to be briefed on the alleged theft of $1.5 million by one of their own.

LIBERAL PARTY MEMBER II: We just want to get to the truth and the bottom of the matter.

MICHAEL KROGER, LIBERAL PARTY VIC. BRANCH: Good morning, everybody. Well as you know, the Liberal Party is today referring some matters to the Victoria Police relating to the unauthorised removal of some party funds from the party head office, solely the work of one person. It should’ve been detected a long time ago. It wasn’t, which is regrettable. And the party’s obviously gonna make sure that this never happens again.

MADELEINE MORRIS: That person is Damien Mantach, the Victorian Liberal Party’s state director until March this year. The party believes that over a period of four years, Damien Mantach siphoned off money from Victorian Liberal headquarters via fake invoices for fake work.

The irregularities were uncovered when new state Liberal president Michael Kroger ordered a forensic audit of the accounts when he took over after last year’s disastrous state election.

NICK ECONOMOU, POLITICAL ANALYST: The state Liberal Party is in a bit of trouble and it’s been subject to a great deal of internal tension. There’d been problems within the parliamentary wing of the party. That contributed of course to the Liberals’ defeat at the last state election. And we also know that there were all sorts of tensions in the party organisation, the party membership.

DENIS NAPTHINE: I’m absolutely devastated, but particularly for the candidates across the state of Victoria who worked extremely hard, for the Liberal Party members and volunteers who worked extremely hard. This is a real shock to all of us.

MADELEINE MORRIS: That includes Angelo Kakouros, chair of the party’s South Barwon branch. He’s been fielding calls from party members all day.

ANGELO KAKOUROS, CHAIR, LIBERAL PARTY SOUTH BARWON BRANCH: It is a lack of trust and great, great disappointment.

MADELEINE MORRIS: But Mr Kakouros says his branch has been worried about the former state director for some time.

ANGELO KAKOUROS: I’ve had concerns with Damien Mantach for the last three to four years as a state director and personal experience and just the way things have operated and the communication between Damien, the administrative committee and some of the people within the organisation with their communication here locally in our area.

NICK ECONOMOU: It’s a very, very big task to try and keep track of what’s going on and to keep paid full-time officials answerable and accountable in what is essentially a voluntary organisation. The state treasurer of the Liberal Party would be a volunteer after all. Now, on top of this we’re getting increasing regulation to try and regulate the flow of donations. … But I suspect that that may be encouraging clever people to be a bit tricky here and try and find ways to squirrel resources away.

MADELEINE MORRIS: Today, Michael Kroger admitted there was a systemic problem with the Liberal Party accounting and changes were being made.

MICHAEL KROGER: More people in the accounting section and different oversights in relation to levels of authorised expenditure and a greater role for the party finance committee and more attention on these matters by the party executive.

MADELEINE MORRIS: It’s not the first time Damien Mantach has been in the headlines. Two years ago, he was investigated and ultimately cleared over payments he authorised to a former Liberal staffer who quit after being implicated in a scandal that snared the Police Minister.

And late today, the Tasmanian branch of the Liberal Party confirmed Mr Mantach had to repay nearly $48,000 in personal expenses when he was Tasmanian branch state director.

The fallout today extended all the way from Spring Street to Canberra.

BRENDAN O’CONNOR, FEDERAL LABOR MP: In 2013 the Prime Minister said, and I quote, “I know Damien Mantach well. He’s a person of integrity. So let’s see where this investigation goes. He has my confidence.” Does the Prime Minister agree that this ringing endorsement is yet another failure of judgment on his part?

TONY ABBOTT, PRIME MINISTER: But I can inform the House that matters concerning the individual in question have this morning been referred to the Victorian Police.

MADELEINE MORRIS: Today, no answer at the Mantach family home and Damien Mantach couldn’t be reached on the phone.

There is palpable shock here in Victoria that this could’ve happened to the party which prides itself on good financial management, particularly amongst Liberal rank and file. One branch chair told me it was like finding out the priest had been stealing from the collection plate. But there’s also relief it’s been uncovered by the party’s new state leadership.

ANGELO KAKOUROS: Michael Kroger, the state president, he’s doing a fantastic job in order to bring honesty and transparency back into the party.

MADELEINE MORRIS: The impact for the party may yet be felt in the place it will hurt most: the coffers.

NICK ECONOMOU: The Liberal Party really does rely heavily on membership fees and donations, so I think something that might damage the reputation of the party’s fundraising ability could be really seriously damaging to the Liberal Party.

LIBERAL PARTY MEMBER III: I think this is simply a matter of we’ve been robbed. We want our money back and we want justice done. Police will investigate and i think that’s all I should say at this point in time.

SABRA LANE: Madeleine Morris reporting.

Rachael Brown reported this story on Thursday, August 20, 2015 12:20:47

 Fmr Vic Liberal state director accused of stealing $1.5m from party over four years

ELEANOR HALL: Let’s go now to Victoria where that state’s branch of the Liberal Party is having some trouble of its own.

The Liberal leader Matthew Guy has accused the former state director of the Victorian Liberal Party, Damien Mantach, of embezzling $1.5 million in the election campaign funds.

Mr Guy says his party is “white hot” with anger, and that the funds could’ve made a difference in last year’s election.

In Melbourne, Rachael Brown reports.

RACHAEL BROWN: The Liberal Party says discrepancies were uncovered during a forensic audit of the party’s funds after last year’s state election loss.

The party’s former state director Damien Mantach is being accused of stealing $1.5 million over four years, but the audit continues.

Mr Mantach has not responded to the ABC’s calls.

Liberal party members were called into a crisis meeting this morning, and heading in, the party leader Matthew Guy made no attempt to mask his feelings.

MATTHEW GUY: We are furious; we want our money back.

RACHAEL BROWN: The matter has been referred to the Victoria Police Fraud and Extortion Squad, which says it’s investigating the disappearance of funds, but can’t comment further.

Mr Guy says, if the allegations prove true, it’s a massive betrayal of trust.

MATTHEW GUY: An enormous part of our election war chest, enormous. People did a lot of work to get that. I mean, we have a fundraising team who’ve done a huge amount of work; they’re always under a lot of scrutiny as you can imagine, and a lot of pressure.

But they’ve done a huge amount of work. We’ve got a lot of supporters, a lot of branch people who have worked their guts out for this party. And for what it appears to be one individual to do this to us leaves us bitterly cold.

RACHAEL BROWN: The Liberal party leader says the funds could’ve changed last year’s election result, which saw Labor’s Daniel Andrews dismissing the Napthine Coalition government.

Denis Napthine, who led the Victoria’s first one-term government in 60 years, says the fraud allegation is shocking and bitterly disappointing.

The party’s new president, Michael Kroger, has released a statement saying, when the audit turned up suspicious transactions amounting to $1.5 million between 2010 and 2014, Damien Mantach was asked to explain himself.

It was after this discussion that the party’s administrative committee voted to refer the matter to police.

Mr Kroger admits there’s a weakness with the Liberal Party’s checks and balances.

MICHAEL KROGER: Yeah, well on this occasion they clearly failed. So yep, quite up front about that. I’ve only been in the job four months, as you know. This has been going on for four years, so you know, it should have been picked up before and wasn’t, unfortunately.

RACHAEL BROWN: But he says there won’t be a clean out of branch holders, that the alleged fraud didn’t extend to other employees, officials or office bearers, and was limited to the party’s Melbourne headquarters.

He says civil action hasn’t been decided on.

MICHAEL KROGER: We’re sensitive to a number of issues, including the fact the person involved has a wife and family, and there are other matters which we want to take into account. But yes, we’ll be recovering a good deal of the funds in a cooperative relationship with the person involved.

RACHAEL BROWN: Mr Kroger says he doesn’t know where the money’s gone.

And he’s hit back at a suggestion that this is in a similar vein to the trade union boss Kathy Jackson being forced to repay $1.4 million of misappropriated members’ funds.

MICHAEL KROGER: When the Liberal party becomes aware of a serious matter like this, what do we do?

We investigate it quickly, we report it to the appropriate authorities, who in this case will be the Victoria Police. We don’t hide it; we don’t ignore it; we deal with it.

On the other hand, it’s taken a royal commission at massive public expense bringing these union and Labor leaders kicking and screaming before the public to get any type of information from them at all, at massive public expense. And even now they want to sack the umpire.

RACHAEL BROWN: One commentator has told The World Today that there might be more to this than meets the eye.

Damian Mantach stepped down from the director’s job in March. A couple of years ago he was one of the senior Liberals secretly recorded during the police command crisis that led to Ted Baillieu resigning as premier.

The commentator says this audit and slur on a former power player in the executive committee might have more to do with the ongoing power struggle and factional rifts at the upper levels of the Victorian Liberal party.

ELEANOR HALL: Rachael Brown with that report.


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