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



money hungry 2

abc.net.au

Embezzlement allegation: The Liberal Party will have to rebuild trust

The Drum

Opinion

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.


abc.net.au

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.”


abc.net.au

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.

Transcript

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

 abc.net.au

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

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.


Damien Mantach embezzlement -Finger pointing begins over Liberals’ stolen cash


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

Embezzlement allegation: The Liberal Party will have to rebuild trust

The Drum

Opinion

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.

Click image below to enlarge

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


abc.net.au

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.”


abc.net.au

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.

Transcript

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

 abc.net.au

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

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.



news.com.au

Finger pointing begins over Liberals’ stolen cash

http://www.news.com.au/video/id-NwMjY0dzqkwzxK6FCG9JiP2ATp0m5WyG/Police-to-investigate-alleged-Vic-Lib-fraud

Vic detectives will investigate the alleged embezzlement of $1.5 million of Liberal party funds.

Victorian detectives will investigate the alleged embezzlement of $1.5 million of Liberal

Victorian detectives will investigate the alleged embezzlement of $1.5 million of Liberal party funds by former state director Damien Mantach. Source: AAP

VICTORIA’S Liberal Party didn’t lose the 2014 election because its then state director stole $1.5 million from campaign funds, current state president Michael Kroger says.

Former Victorian Liberal director Damien Mantach has admitted to stealing money from the party over a four-year period going into the state election.

On a bad day for Mr Mantach, his Liberal Party email address was also found in the leaked Ashley Madison database, although there is no evidence he specifically signed up to the site.

Mr Mantach, who was on a $200,000-a-year salary, allegedly used the money to pay his mortgage, fund his lifestyle and build a half-a-million dollar share portfolio, the Herald Sun reports.

When asked about the alleged theft, his wife Jodie Mantach told the paper she no longer wants “anything to do with him”.

Mr Kroger said the party did not lose the election because of a lack of funds.

“The ability of the party to continue to operate and fund its campaigns has not been compromised,” a party statement said.

Mr Kroger said the party was strengthening its financial controls after the details of the theft became clear.

The $1.5 million theft has been referred to Victoria Police and Mr Kroger is hopeful some of it can be recovered.

The Ocean Grove home owned by former Liberal Party state director Damien Mantach.

The Ocean Grove home owned by former Liberal Party state director Damien Mantach. Source: News Corp Australia

The Liberals’ Tasmanian division president Geoff Page later confirmed Mr Mantach’s history of questionable spending dating back to 2008.

Mr Mantach repaid almost $50,000 in “personal expenses” before leaving his position with the Tasmanian branch to move to Victoria. “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,” Mr Page said in a post on the Tasmanian Liberals’ Facebook page.

Finger pointing has begun within the party, with the Liberals’ federal director — and husband of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s chief-of-staff, Peta Credlin — Brian Loughnane reportedly being blamed for his appointment.

A RORTER’S DREAM JOB

As state director of the Victorian Liberal Party, Mr Mantach’s role was a rorter’s dream.

He had the final say on budget line items, such as polling research, that the party treasurer was not allowed to see. It allowed him to bill the party with invoices — some created on his work computer — for jobs that did not exist.

Mr Mantach resigned after the 2014 state election loss but had to face the music on Monday when the party’s lawyers called him to a meeting.

His lawyer arrived on Tuesday in an attempt to cut a deal when the party thought he had stolen around $800,000.

The Liberals wanted complete disclosure and Mr Mantach allegedly spent hours with officials on Wednesday explaining the full extent of his theft.

“We feel profoundly betrayed and terribly disappointed with what’s happened,” Mr Kroger told reporters on Thursday.

“It appears it was only Damien involved. If the police find others, fine, but we’re not aware that anyone at the party head office or any officials had any involvement at all.” Victorian Liberal leader Matthew Guy said members were “gutted” after raising funds for the state and federal election campaigns. “The party is furious, we want our money back, we want this matter sent to the police, and we will be doing everything we can to ensure that justice is done,” he said.

The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission was called on to examine secret phone recordings of senior Liberal figures in 2013, including Mr Mantach, though it was found an investigation was not warranted.

“I know Damien Mantach well. He is a person of integrity. So let’s see where this investigation goes. He has my confidence,” Tony Abbott said at the time when he was opposition leader.

Asked about the $1.5 million theft on Thursday, Prime Minister Abbott said it was a matter for the Victorian division of the party.

Mr Mantach did not respond to attempts to contact him on yesterday.

Victoria Police have launched an investigation.

The Prime Minister’s chief-of-staff Peta Credlin and husband Brian Loughnane. The Liberal

The Prime Minister’s chief-of-staff Peta Credlin and husband Brian Loughnane. The Liberal Party’s federal director is being blamed for appointing Mr Mentach. Source: News Corp Australia


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

Featured


update 14/8/15

smh.com.au

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

UPDATES daily on this trial here background posts click here http://aussiecriminals.com.au/2014/05/26/roger-rogerson-and-glen-mcnamara-charged-with-murder-of-jamie-gao/

A pictorial of the infamous ex copper Roger the Dodger is here http://aussiecriminals.com.au/roger-rogerson/


TAKE 2

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

Paul Bibby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Roger Rogerson.

Roger Rogerson. Source: DailyTelegraph

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

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

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

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


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

Nick McKenzie

Mafia in Australia – Drugs, Murder and Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back in 2007, I knew none of this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Terror diverts focus from Mafia ‘board of directors’


Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker, Michael Bachelard

Inside a mafia ecstasy sting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker, Michael Bachelard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 – and fears grow over notorious tattooed enforcer locked in isolation

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

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

Updated 48 minutes ago

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

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

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

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

Wade Noonan, Victorian Corrections Minister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“This criminal behaviour will not be tolerated.

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

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

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

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

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

All 802 prisoners were accounted for.

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

Police used capsicum spray to subdue those refusing to cooperate.

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

“The numbers decreased as the day went on.”

Most prisoners returned to cells voluntarily

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

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

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

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

Daniel Andrews, Victorian Premier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Premier angry about riot, promises independent inquiry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the Premier promptly rejected that idea.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pushing back: Riot police at the Ravenhall Prison in Melbourne

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

Dark: Smoke billows from the Ravenhall prison into the sky

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

Prisoners are also reportedly lighting fires and destroying other property. 

The centre has beds to house 723 people. 

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

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

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

Load up: Riot police prepare to enter the prison 

Load up: Riot police prepare to enter the prison 

Riot breaks out at Ravenhall prison over smoking ban

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nomads Motorcycle Club raids sparked by threats of blackmail and payback against two SA men


Standover 101, Give me 30 grand (happens to be the price for a nice harley) Give me your bike, and give me your car….fill in the rest.

Great to see the cops scooping these steroid pumped bludgers off the streets one by one. If we allow them to just come and standover folks demanding cash and to take  possessions we will never ever win the war against them.

The Nomads Hardcore tactics

Chief Court Reporter Sean Fewster
The Advertiser
June 01, 2015 5:19PM

THE two-state raids that smashed the powerful Nomads Motorcycle Club were sparked by threats of blackmail, payback and retribution against two SA men, a court has heard.

Prosecutors today asked the Adelaide Magistrates Court to remand two of the men in custody, despite their being granted bail when arrested in NSW last week.

Sandi McDonald, SC, prosecuting, said the allegations against the duo and their 10 co-accused were some of the most serious examples of bikie-related crime.

“In November, these men flew in from NSW, met up with the complainant, took him to the Adelaide High School oval and demanded $30,000, his car and his motorbike,” she said.

“He was taken to a motel where he was threatened, assaulted and told he was going to die.

Police arrest man during a bikie gang crackdown
http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/video/id-BjOHRjdTqruBV11eXa-n7ClDythZuhfj/Police-arrest-man-during-a-bikie-gang-crackdown/

“This defendant, a high-ranking member of the gang, threatened to slit his throat (and) cut his eyes out … he held the complainant’s head down and aimed a firearm at him.”

The man, whose identity is suppressed, is one of eight Nomads to face court today in the wake of last week’s raids by SA and NSW police.

Four members faced court last week, and one was supported by the gang’s national president, Sleiman “Simon” Tajjour.

Six more were extradited from Sydney on Friday — they did not apply for bail today and were remanded in custody until August.

One of the Nomads who faced court in Adelaide today, with a supporter.

One of the Nomads who faced court in Adelaide today, with a supporter.

The remaining two men travelled to Adelaide today under bail agreements imposed by the Paramatta Magistrates Court following the raids.

Each has yet to plead to a raft of blackmail, assault and threaten harm charges taking place at locations across Adelaide between November 2014 and March this year.

A final co-accused remains at large and is the subject of an arrest warrant.

The identities of the victims, and any information which would tend to identify them, are suppressed by order of the court.

One of the Nomads who faced court in Adelaide today.

One of the Nomads who faced court in Adelaide today.

Under SA law, a person charged with bikie-related offending is automatically banned from receiving bail unless they can show there are special circumstances warranting their release.

Today Michael Dadds, for the first of the two bailed men, said his client’s liberty should continue so he could return to Sydney, continue working and continue caring for his two children.

He said his client had severed his ties with the Nomads.

“He had been attempting, for some time, to disassociate himself from the club and, in January, he successfully did that … it was a delicate process,” he said.

A member of the Nomads Motorcycle Club being extradited from NSW.

A member of the Nomads Motorcycle Club being extradited from NSW.

“His lawyer in Sydney subsequently made inquiries with NSW police with a view to establishing how best to go about, in a formal way, ensuring that disassociation was noted.”

Mr Dadds said his client had attended a police station and signed a statutory declaration about his disassociation — “one of, if not the first” NSW bikie to do so.

He said the court should not place great weight on the allegations made by the complainant.

“The allegations are denied and there is a real question, in this case, about the reliability of the complainant,” he said.

A member of the Nomads Motorcycle Club being extradited from NSW.

A member of the Nomads Motorcycle Club being extradited from NSW.

“His allegations are uncorroborated … these allegations of blackmail and intimidation all rely on someone who is unreliable.”

Ms McDonald said that was not the case, as police had sourced CCTV footage from Adelaide Airport, the high school and the motel that matched the complainant’s account.

She said the court should not place great weight on the man’s claims of having disassociated from the Nomads.

“What I have been advised, through police in NSW, is that this defendant was charged with consorting offences and, during his police interview, claimed he had disassociated,” she said.

A member of the Nomads Motorcycle Club being extradited from NSW.

A member of the Nomads Motorcycle Club being extradited from NSW.

“Police asked him to fill in one of these forms, which were being piloted at that stage, and he did so.

“So it occurred in very contrived circumstances where this defendant had very vested interests … he did what he was told, when it suited him, when it was in his best interests.”

Magistrate Jayne Basheer refused the man bail and remanded him in custody until August.

Paul Mazurkiewicz, for the second man, said his client be allowed to remain at liberty because, on the police version of events, he “played a lesser role” in the alleged offending.

He said his client was barely mentioned in the complainant’s statements to police and, when he was, it was him leaving a room or standing nearby while others uttered threats.

“All these allegations of gouging out eyeballs, firearms, being held down on beds, threats, demands for money, they don’t involve my client,” he said.

Mr Mazurkiewicz said the man who faced court on Friday was the “mover and shaker” in the incident, as described by the complainant’s witness statement.

“The complainant says he saw my client leave the room before (the man who appeared on Friday) demanded he continue to tell the Nomads he was not able to come up with the $30,000, but he still had to pay (that man) the $30,000,” he said.

“(That man) also told the complainant if he ever told anyone about it, he would kill him.

“It would appear (that man) was on a frolic of his own and recruited other people to help him.”

He said his client had left the gang and now “faced consequences” as a result of that decision.

Ms McDonald said the man should be remanded in custody, saying he played far more than a “peripheral” role in the incident.

She said he had menaced the complainant physically, by standing close to him and raising his fists, and verbally by agreeing with and supporting threats made by others.

“It was not a stroll in the park — it was heated and animated,” she said.

Ms McDonald said the man was part of a 13-strong group that flew to Adelaide, threatened the complainant “as the first thing they did” and then “flew out the next day”.

“These people put themselves in the one per cent of the population that holds itself above the law and this is what they do — retribution and intimidation,” she said.

She said that, when the man was arrested, he was found to be in possession of a sawn-off .22 calibre rifle and a loaded magazine for an SKS assault rifle.

Magistrate Basheer remanded the man in custody overnight and will hand down her ruling on bail tomorrow.


12 Nomad outlaw bikie gang members arrested in SA and NSW

Twelve Nomad bikie gang members have been arrested and charged with a range of offences,

Twelve Nomad bikie gang members have been arrested and charged with a range of offences, including solicit to murder.

FOR nine months, police have tracked the Adelaide chapter of the Nomad outlaw bikie gang amid allegations of extortion within its own ranks.

Today, the gang is in shreds after being smashed by a two-state police operation, and eight South Australian Nomads, including two of the gang’s highest-ranking patched members, are in jail. A ninth is on the run.

Charges against a total of 12 people include soliciting to murder, kidnapping, blackmail and assault, and police say they have dealt the gang a “significant blow”.

The group only has 10 or 12 patched members in Adelaide and The Advertiser understands it has been established in SA for about a year.

Assistant Commissioner Paul Dickson said the SA president and sergeant-at-arms, as well as the NSW-based national vice president, were arrested as part of the operation. He said the victims were other members or associates of the gang.

“All of these offences were committed as a result of the victims not undertaking the required acts set out by the Nomads,” he said.

Mr Dickson said the allegations showed what outlaw bikies were capable of, especially as the offences were allegedly committed against their own.

“They are quite happy to harm the community and they are quite happy to harm their own members if it suits them,” he said.

He said there were 10 outlaw bikie gangs operating in SA, with about 300 members.

“About 25 per cent of OMGC members are in police custody or under some sort of condition, like parole,” he said.

High-ranking outlaw bikies arrested

Director of Litigation Research Unit at the University of Adelaide David Caruso said arrests of this scale send a clear message to the club.

“The police are obviously confident they have built a significant case to say that there are at least this number of people involved in a criminal enterprise,” he said.

“With the Nomads in South Australia, where the number is not many more than the group arrested, it at least sends a message from the police – which needs to be tested in court – that says they are operating in South Australia for criminal purposes.”

As part of the operation, more than 170 officers from SA and NSW conducted raids across the two states, with 18 Adelaide properties searched.

Police will allege the offences happened in SA between November 2014 and March 2015, and the 12 arrested people were either full members, nominees, prospects or associates of the Nomads.

“These are well-organised criminal gangs driven by a culture of self-interest and violence internally and within the community,” Mr Dickson said.

“This offending also demonstrates again the cost and risks linked with being a member of, or associated with, an OMCG.”

Five South Australians, aged between 24 and 50, were arrested in NSW and have appeared in court for extradition back to their home state. Another three South Australians – from Andrews Farm, Parafield Gardens and Pennington – were arrested in Adelaide and were in court on Wednesday.

Of the four NSW residents arrested, three will face extradition to Adelaide.

Those arrested are:

■ A Clearview man, 24, will appear in the Goulburn Magistrates Court today for an extradition hearing.

He will be charged in SA with solicit to murder, two counts of aggravated blackmail, participating in criminal organisation, aggravated assault causing serious harm with intent and aggravated kidnapping.

■ An Elizabeth North man, 26, will appear in the Goulburn Magistrates Court today for an extradition hearing.

Supplied Editorial

An alleged Nomad bikie gang member is arrested in NSW. Picture: NSW Police

He will be charged with aggravated assault causing serious harm with intent, false imprisonment, participating in criminal organisation and aggravated kidnapping.

■ An Andrew Farms man, 26, was charged with aggravated assault causing serious harm with intent. He appeared in the Adelaide Magistrates Court yesterday and was remanded in custody until August 4.

■ A Paralowie man, 50, will appear in the Goulburn Magistrates Court today for an extradition hearing.

He will be charged with aggravated assault causing serious harm with intent.

■ A Campbelltown man, 31, will appear in the Goulburn Magistrates Court today for an extradition hearing.

He will be charged with participating in a criminal organisation.

■ A Para Vista man, 40, will appear in the Goulburn Magistrates Court today for an extradition hearing.

Police-supplied images of the Nomad bikie arrests - this arrest takes place at Clearview.

Police-supplied images of the Nomad bikie arrests – this arrest takes place at Clearview.

Images of the arrest at Clearview.

Images of the arrest at Clearview.

He will be charged with aggravated assault causing serious harm with intent, false imprisonment and participating in a criminal organisation

■ A Parafield Gardens man, 37, was charged with aggravated assault causing serious harm with intent, false imprisonment, participating in a criminal organisation and aggravated kidnapping.

He appeared in the Adelaide Magistrates Court yesterday and was remanded in custody until August 4.

■ A Pennington man, 35, was charged with aggravated assault causing serious harm with intent, false imprisonment, participating in a criminal organisation and aggravated kidnapping.

He appeared in the Adelaide Magistrates Court yesterday and was remanded in custody until August 4.

■ A Sydney man, 30, has been arrested and following a court appearance will be extradited to SA to face two counts of aggravated blackmail, making aggravated threats to kill and cause harm, aggravated assault causing harm, blackmail and participating in a criminal organisation.

■ A 37-year-old man, from Kenthurst in NSW, was arrested and charged with making aggravated threats to kill and cause harm, aggravated assault causing harm and aggravated blackmail.

He has been bailed to appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on June 1.

■ A 30-year-old man, from Fletcher in NSW, was charged with making aggravated threats to kill and cause harm and aggravated assault causing harm.

He is expected to appear at an extradition hearing in NSW today.

■ A 26-year-old man, from Merrylands West in NSW, was charged with aggravated blackmail. He is expected to appear at an extradition hearing in NSW tomorrow.

Police have also issued a warrant for the arrest of a Paralowie man, 41, who is wanted in connection with this investigation.


ONE of Australia’s most senior outlaw bikies has attended an Adelaide court to support an arrested colleague following raids that have left their gang in shreds.

Nomads national president Sleiman “Simon” Tajjour sat in the public gallery of the Adelaide Magistrates Court today, while one of his crew sat in the dock in custody.

The Advertiser understands that man, 31, whose identity has been suppressed, is a senior national office-bearer for the club.

Mr Tajjour outside the Adelaide Magistrates Court, where he was supporting a colleague.

Mr Tajjour outside the Adelaide Magistrates Court, where he was supporting a colleague.

Nomads national president Sleiman “Simon” Tajjour flashes a smile for waiting media.

Nomads national president Sleiman “Simon” Tajjour flashes a smile for waiting media.

He has yet to plead to two counts of aggravated blackmail, making threats to kill and cause harm and aggravated assault causing harm.

The man is further charged with blackmail and participating in a criminal organisation.

He was one of 12 gang members arrested yesterday in a two-state operation that involved more than 170 officers from SA and NSW.

Mr Tajjour, who has not been charged with any offence, listened from the public gallery as prosecutor Sandi McDonald, SC, asked the charged man’s case be adjourned.

A member of the Nomads gang being escorted out of the City watch house.

A member of the Nomads gang being escorted out of the City watch house.

“This is his first appearance, and this matter will eventually join up with the 12 other accused on a date that has been set in August,” she said.

Ms McDonald said three of those accused had already faced court, while the others would be flown into Adelaide this afternoon to face court on Monday.

She asked the man’s name and image be suppressed until police completed identification procedures.

One of the Nomad gang members being escorted out of Adelaide Airport.

One of the Nomad gang members being escorted out of Adelaide Airport.

Ms McDonald also asked the court suppress the names, images and anything that would tend to identify the two alleged victims in the matter.

“By the next court date we will have received statements from the two alleged victims, which I understand are quite voluminous,” she said.

“We will also be making an application to have this defendant declared a serious organised crime offender.”

Another member of the Nomad gang members being escorted out of Adelaide Airport.

Another member of the Nomad gang members being escorted out of Adelaide Airport.

A third extradited Nomad gang member being escorted out of Adelaide Airport.

A third extradited Nomad gang member being escorted out of Adelaide Airport.

The man’s Sydney-based lawyer, Omar Juweinat, said his client would be seeking release on bail and asked a hearing date be set.

“The officer in charge (of the operation) is most likely going to be required for a short cross-examination during that hearing,” he said.

Magistrate Jayne Basheer remanded the man in custody for a bail hearing next month, and to join up with his co-accused’s cases in August.

Mr Tajjour declined to comment outside court, telling reporters to “ask my lawyer”.

Mr Huweinat also declined to comment.


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