What happened to $34 million from Aboriginal fund on Groote Eylandt?


A matter of trust…

05/11/2015

It was millions of dollars in mining royalties that was meant to be spent for the benefit of the Groote Eylandt community.

Instead, tens of millions were spent on 156 cars and boats, fridges, a barge, gambling at the casino and charter flights.

The latest chapter in the extraordinary saga played out in the Darwin Supreme Court on Monday.

The former public officer of Groote Eylandt Aboriginal Trust (GEAT), Rosalie Lalara, had earlier pleaded guilty to misappropriating almost $500,000.

Her bail was revoked and she is now behind bars awaiting sentencing.

A total of $34 million disappeared from the GEAT coffers between 2010 and 2012, leaving just $400,000 remaining in the account.

While Lalara has pleaded guilty to a fraction of the missing millions, exactly what happened to the rest remains a mystery.

But those involved in the case said little of it appeared to have been spent on housing, education or the needs of the community.

Jacqueline Lahne was brought in as the interim operations manager at GEAT when the trust was put into administration in 2012.

“My initial impression was that there was a group of people [on Groote Eylandt] who were literally living like rock stars,” she said in an interview with the ABC.

Chartered planes, vehicles waiting for them at airports, they owned multiple vehicles and boats themselves. They had access endlessly to cash for their lifestyles and then for their families.

Groote Eylandt, a remote island off Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, regularly appears at the top of the Northern Territory’s richest postcodes.

It earns millions each year in royalties from the nearby South32 manganese mine.

Since its inception in the early 1960s, the trust has earned more than $200 million in royalties.

Lalara told the ABC she is not responsible for all the money that went missing.

“They accuse me of being a thief and I don’t steal,” Lalara said in an interview with the ABC.

Lalara was the community’s go-to person on the trust and said not everyone was happy with the trust’s rules on how royalty money should be spent.

“They say, ‘Oh, it’s our money, you should spend this money on us. Why you keeping the money, what for? It shouldn’t be up there in the bank, it should be down here spent’,” she said.

Court documents in a separate case allege Lalara was involved in the purchase of 156 cars and boats at a total cost of $5 million.

A barge and real estate in Cairns were also bought with trust money.

The documents alleged cash cheques to a total value of $3.5 million were written from the trust account and fraudulently recorded against funeral costs.

Millions remain unaccounted for due to poor record keeping

In court documents in civil proceedings against Darwin’s Skycity casino, it is alleged Lalara gambled more than $1 million of trust money.

“If I had a million dollars would I be gambling it? No, thank you. That is all bad,” she said.

“We went and bought a whole heap of stuff … maybe fridges, washing machines, even air conditioners, yeah, beddings, beds, mattresses, yep.”

But what exactly has happened to the remaining $33 million is unclear.

Ms Lahne said that many millions remain unaccounted for because GEAT kept poor records.

She believes non-Indigenous businesses who preyed on the trust received a large percentage of the missing millions.

“I guess we’d call them carpetbaggers wouldn’t we?” she said.

“They’re people, or sharks, that prey on vulnerable populations.

“They find that organisations are limited in their governance structures and capacity, they work their way in there.”

Court documents alleged one operator who did business with the trust regularly charged 30 per cent commission to the trust.

“Vehicles that had been purchased by the trust weeks before for perhaps $35,000, were sold on for $5,000 or $10,000 in cash,” Ms Lahne said.

“So the trust automatically lost a portion of cash and the vehicle disappeared, plates were destroyed, it’s gone.”

Purchase of cars for teens triggered ‘distrust’

Not all of the community were benefiting from the largesse.

It was the purchase of cars for kids barely in their teens that caused the community outrage and made them act.

“Thirteen-year-old girls getting bought a car and 15-year-old boys getting a boat,” said Keith Hansen, who has lived on the island for 25 years and is married to a local beneficiary.

“That’s when the distrust really came into place, when they were buying for a birthday for a 13-year-old girl a flash Ford Falcon sedan.”

Groote Eylandters told the ABC that 300 locals confronted Lalara about the trust’s finances on the oval in the town of Anuragu in early 2012.

Punches were thrown, the police were called and there were multiple arrests.

On March 12, 2012 more than 500 locals signed a petition which was sent to the Northern Territory Attorney-General, saying “many millions of dollars have been wasted and corruption is rife … no-one is game to do anything for fear of retribution”.

The Government stepped in and a statutory manager was appointed.

Ms Lahne worked alongside the statutory manager and said she was “shocked” when she arrived on Groote Eylandt.

“I would have expected with all the years of royalties going into that island to see more supporting infrastructure, better local health services, better support agencies that the trust might be investing in but there was no evidence of that,” she said.

But Lalara said she was put under great cultural pressure by beneficiaries to keep buying things for them with money from the trust.

“I reckon I was stuck with the two worlds. White-man world, white-man way and blackfella way. And what I was trying to do was to do it our way, and it’s not written in the book,” she said.

“We try to balance the both sides so it doesn’t how you say … ruin things. But it obviously ruined [things].”

Lalara is angry that the community has not defended her since charges were laid against her in 2013.

“The community is the fault and I say they are gutless and they are coward and it’s their fault all this happened,” she said.

“Now everybody’s … happy sitting behind their cars and steering wheels and that they don’t even want to help [me].”

Auditors under the microscope

In a separate case, three international companies employed to give financial and legal advice to GEAT’s trustees are now being sued.

In a civil case in the Darwin Supreme Court, GEAT is alleging KPMG, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and Minter Ellison failed to detect numerous “irregularities” in the trust’s operation in the 18 months that $34 million was spent.

Trust lawyers claim if the firms had performed their duties diligently they could have prevented tens of millions of dollars being misspent.

“The flag could have been raised years ago,” Ms Lahne said.

The ABC approached KPMG, Deloitte and Minter Ellison, which have combined to fight the civil claims against them. They all declined to comment.

Despite $200 million being paid in royalties to the trust over the past 50 years, Ms Lahne said there was little evidence on the island of the wealth received by the 1,800 Aboriginal beneficiaries of GEAT.

“I think they are a very strong community, they’re on their land, they’re on country and they’re really quite traditional in my experience,” Ms Lahne said.

“I think the lost opportunity is incalculable. I think generations to come will look back … and say ‘look what we could have had’ you know from that money, had it been invested properly.”

It was high drama in the Darwin Supreme Court earlier this week when Lalara sacked her lawyer and handed in an unsigned document that claimed judges appointed in Australia after 1901 did not have valid legal powers, and therefore no judge had the standing to decide her case.

Lalara’s bail was revoked and she is now in custody. Her next court appearance is set down for December 21.

 

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


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

16/09/15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perpetrator’s sexuality was ‘repressed’ by religious upbringing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He then resigned from the DHS.

Long history of mental health issues, now being addressed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From other news sites:

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

    abc.net.au

    DHS disability worker admits abusing deaf, blind patients

    By court reporter Peta Carlyon

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

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

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

    Key points

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Handasyde resigned from the DHS in 2013.

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

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

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

    ‘A happily married heterosexual man’

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

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

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

    Victim’s mother

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Handasyde is expected to be sentenced at a later date.

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


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

  • DHS carer jailed for sex abuse

    Craig Handasyde.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ACCUSED BROKE MUM OF THREE’S JAW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


     

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McManus and Miss Universe Australia 2008 Laura Dundovic in 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHO IS ANDREW MCMANUS?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Updated about 2 hours ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

theage.com.au

Andrew McManus at centre of storm

Kate McClymont

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

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

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

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

Andrew McManus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carolan was ordered to pay the police costs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mahmoud Hrouk sexual assault and murder: Sydney man Aymen Terkmani charged


Terkmani is due to appear via video link in Campbelltown Local Court in September.

Police have arrested a 22-year-old man over the murder and sexual assault of Sydney teenager Mahmoud Hrouk.

The man accused of raping and murdering Sydney teenager Mahmoud Hrouk has been formally refused bail.

Aymen Terkmani, 22, of Fairfield East, was arrested on Thursday and charged with murder and aggravated sexual assault. 

He did not appear in person before Fairfield Local Court on Friday. His lawyer did not request bail.

Supporters of Aymen Terkmani, accused of murdering Mahmoud Hrouk, leave Fairfield Local Court.Supporters of Aymen Terkmani, accused of murdering Mahmoud Hrouk, leave Fairfield Local Court.

Associates of the accused reacted angrily to journalists’ questions outside court, with one man throwing away a reporter’s microphone.

READ MORE:
Parents find bloodied body thought to be of son
Aussie teen was seen with a group of boys before being killed
Sydney teenager sexually assaulted before being bludgeoned to death

The body of Mahmoud, a 16-year-old former Granville High School student, was found beaten and unrecognisable in a derelict house on Belmore Street in Fairfield East on May 17.

The Fairfield house where the body of Mahmoud Hrouk was found.The Fairfield house where the body of Mahmoud Hrouk was found.

It is understood Mahmoud met Terkmani, whom he considered a friend, at Villawood McDonald’s on May 16. The pair arrived at 6.30pm and stayed for about an hour. 

A 22-year-old man has been charged over Mahmoud Hrouk's sexual assault and murder.

A 22-year-old man has been charged over Mahmoud Hrouk’s sexual assault and murder. Photo: Facebook

Mahmoud called his mother about 9.40pm but the call cut out.

The bike he had ridden to the McDonald’s was seen on Mitchell Street that night and found on Melaleuca Street the next day.

Mahmoud’s mother, Maha Dunia, has described her son as “a beautiful boy” and her best friend.

Police said he was hardworking and had no criminal history. Their investigations are ongoing.

Terkmani will appear in Campbelltown Local Court via video link next week.


Police have revealed Mahmoud Hrouk, 16 was sexually assaulted before he was beaten to death.

His bloodied body was found by his family in an abandoned house after a trip to McDonald’s. In a disturbing twist, police now say 16-year-old Mahmoud Hrouk was also sexually violated.

Panicked relatives stumbled across his body in Fairfield East in Sydney’s west, two months ago. He had been bashed to death.

Detectives hunting his killer have now revealed Mahmoud was sexually assaulted either before or at the time of his death, Fairfax reports.

The level of brutality Mahmoud endured has shocked police.

Mahmoud Hrouk, 16 was reported missing on Saturday May 16, 2014. He was last seen alive a

Mahmoud Hrouk, 16 was reported missing on Saturday May 16, 2014. He was last seen alive at a Villawood McDonalds. Source: Facebook

Maha Dunia with a photo of her murdered son Mahmoud Hrouk.

Maha Dunia with a photo of her murdered son Mahmoud Hrouk. Source: News Corp Australia

The derelict house in Villawood where Mahmoud Hrouk was murdered.

The derelict house in Villawood where Mahmoud Hrouk was murdered. Source: News Corp Australia

“In my experience, I’ve never seen anything like it … it’s gut-wrenching. What happened to this boy is terrible; it shouldn’t happen to anyone,” Detective Sergeant Olivares told Fairfax, describing the boy as a “model child”.

“This is separate from organised crime; it’s a more individual, more opportunistic crime. We certainly don’t think it was planned.”

Police are struggling to find a motive for such a violent murder.

He was found covered in wounds and suffered internal injuries also. Until now, it was thought that was the only horror he endured, but after the sexual assault revelations, the full extent of Mahmoud’s suffering has become clear.

Whoever killed Mahmoud Hrouk could possibly have taken his bloodied clothing, including running shoes and long dark pants, police say.

Mahmoud’s mother Maha Dunia last spoke to her son at 9.40pm on Saturday, May 16, when he asked her to pick him up from a friend’s place on Mitchell St but the call cut out halfway through the conversation.

He was last seen eating a burger at Villawood McDonald’s about 6.30pm.

Photo

The family of Mahmoud Hrouk need to know why their son was brutally killed. Source: Facebook

The next morning, after searching the streets of Villawood and Fairfield East, the family were told to check a vacant house on Belmore St, where local teens had been seen gathering in ­recent months.

It was inside they made the traumatic discovery.

“I need to know: why would you bash a 16-year-old? Are you Muslim, Jewish, Christian? You cannot do this in any religion. You cannot kill,” Ms Dunia told the Daily Telegraph.

“God takes the soul from us, not you.”

Holding a photo of her son, Ms Dunia said: “I need to know why. I know it’s not going to bring my son back but I need to know why. I need to know what did he do to deserve this.

“No mother in the world deserves this pain. To lose a son, that’s it. You feel like the whole world doesn’t mean anything to you. You feel like something from your heart is taken out.”

Bride-to-be Stephanie Scott missing, one week before her wedding-Vincent Stanford CHARGED WITH MURDER


 Home video footage of missing bride-to-be Stephanie Scott

MISSING bride-to-be Stephanie Scott did not show up to a Sunday evening dinner she’d arranged with fiance Aaron Leeson-Woolley just hours earlier.

The popular teacher was reported missing on Monday afternoon and fears are growing that she may have crashed her car in a remote location.

The family are talking to police and have called on the community to help with the search through social media, as well as hiring a private helicopter to search from the air.

Mr Leeson-Woolley made an emotional appearance on Channel 7 News, where he said he doesn’t believe his wife-to-be had cold feet.

“I just want her to be here so we can get on with the stuff we need to do,” he said. “I don’t know where to go from here, where to search or anything.”

Ms Scott had spent Saturday in their home town of Leeton buying cufflinks for the wedding, shopping and talking to her sister Robyn about the big day, which had been scheduled for this Saturday.

The engaged couple spent that evening apart, with Mr Leeson-Woolley staying the night at his parent’s home in Canowindra, three half hours drive away.

Stephanie Scott, with her mother. Picture: Facebook

Stephanie Scott, with her mother. Picture: Facebook Source: Facebook

Stephanie Scott has gone missing a week before her wedding.

Stephanie Scott has gone missing a week before her wedding. Source: News Corp Australia

The couple texted each other back and forth at about 10am on Sunday to arrange a dinner that evening at Goodfella’s Restaurant.

After that, Ms Scott went to the school where she worked, Leeton High, where she was seen leaving some work for the teacher who would replace her before sending an email to the bus company hired for the wedding just before 1pm.

“There is no way she had cold feet. Something has happened to her”

After travelling back home Mr Leeson-Woolley didn’t see his fiancee all afternoon before she failed to show up for the dinner, booked for 8pm.

Stephanie (right), pictured at a wedding. Picture: Facebook

Stephanie (right), pictured at a wedding. Picture: Facebook Source: Facebook

Facebook image of Ms Scott,and husband-to-be Aaron Woolley.

Facebook image of Ms Scott, and husband-to-be Aaron Woolley. Source: Facebook

“He was a bit worried but thought she might have gone to a friends or something,” Stephanie’s sister Robyn said. “He tried her phone a few times as well.’’

By Monday morning when he still hadn’t heard from her, Mr Leeson-Woolley contacted Stephanie’s mother and sisters, thinking she may have contacted them, then reported her missing to Leeton police.

The couple were due to marry this Saturday, with 100 guests invited to a former golf club at Eugowa in the states south west.

Her mother Merrilyn, who last spoke with her daughter on Friday, told The Daily Telegraph Stephanie was looking forward to the big day.

“She was talking about the wedding and was making little craft things for the reception,” she said.

SERIAL COP ABUSER SMILES AS HE WALKS AWAY WITH $1000 FINE

“There is no way she had cold feet. Something has happened to her.”

“Your mind keeps thinking of the worst. I cant eat or sleep. You hope maybe she has had an accident and can’t reach her phone.’’

Stephanie Scott was last seen at Leeton High School where she teaches English and drama.

Stephanie Scott was last seen at Leeton High School where she teaches English and drama. Source: Supplied

Mr Leeson-Woolley told Fairfax Regional Media this week that the disappearance was “really out of character.”

“We’re really worried. (Someone) said they saw her at Woolworths around 1pm on Sunday, but no one has seen or heard anything since.

“We just want her to be okay,” he said.

Police said Ms Scott, who teaches English and drama, may be travelling in a red Mazda 3 sedan with registration BZ-19-CD.

“It was her sister Kim’s birthday on Monday and Stephanie didn’t make contact and that is not her.

Ms Scott may be travelling in a red Mazda 3 sedan. Picture supplied by NSW Police

Ms Scott may be travelling in a red Mazda 3 sedan. Picture supplied by NSW Police Source: Supplied

Leeton High School, where Ms Scott works.

Leeton High School, where Ms Scott works. Source: Supplied

She has two sisters and two brothers and they are always in contact.’’

The community have responded to a call put out on facebook by another of Stephanie’s sisters Kim Scott, who asked for help with the search

“Please anyone available or who can make themselves available,” she wrote on Wednesday.

“Get yourselves to Leeton and the surrounding areas and check those roads.”

The post has already drawn nearly 200 shares, with people driving hundreds of kilometres to help with the search.

“I’ve driven between Wagga and Leeton (about 126km), stopping to drive down some random roads,” Missy Dempsey wrote, “A lot of them you need a 4WD though. I’m going to head back and search around Narrandera.”

Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Griffith Police on 6969 4310.

GBC Jury retired for Deliberations


update

12:43pm: Justice Byrne acknowledged the jury had requested for a copy of his summation of the closing addresses from the prosecution and defence counsels.

He declined the request and asked the jury to give a written note to the Bailiff requesting for parts, or all, of his summation to be read again in open court.

The jury has resumed its deliberations.


This is what these last days are about. Who is telling the truth, the facts, the most likely scenarios? The jury will NEED to apply this to everything they have heard and seen

bs_meter

All previous threads and history including trial can be found clicking on link below http://aussiecriminals.com.au/category/gerard-baden-clay/

List of Trial Witnesses as they appear here

 

Sometime Thursday the jury might be directed to go and deliberate on their verdict in this trial! It may take an hour, it may take 8 days (Rolf Harris Trial) How will they know they have got it right? They will not, in my opinion this is no LAB, no science. It comes down to people and their gut feelings. The common sense they have accumulated over their life times

Otherwise we would have computers collating the data and telling us how it is…(Thank god that is not the case)

It comes down to people like me or you who will decide the fate of Gerard, the one and only suspect and person on trial accused of killing his wife Allison. Mother of their 3 girls.  (for a pittance I might remind you)

So what now? All the evidence, all the facts, the fiction, the lies, the truth, the witnesses with an agenda. Either via family ties, monetary gain or loss, fame, fortune or indeed notoriety. It all ends with the jury. The time has come for our legal system to accept the judgement of a select group who represent our community.

SPACE RESERVED FOR WHEN DELIBERATIONS BEGIN

How about this Unlawful Killing option (Manslaughter?)

What the law says

Sections 303 of the Criminal Code Queensland states:

A person who unlawfully kills another under such circumstances as not to constitute murder is guilty of manslaughter

 

What the police must prove

In order for the Police to prove their case at Court, they must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt.

  1. The accused killed the deceased and that he did so unlawfully. Unlawful simply means not authorised, justified or excused by law. It is not an element of the offence that the accused intended to kill the deceased or to do the deceased any particular harm.
  2. It will be necessary for the Police in every offence to prove that the accused was the person who committed the offence. Click here to learn more about identification evidence

Maximum penalty

The Maximum penalty for the offence of Unlawful Killing/Manslaughter is life imprisonment.

Which court will hear the matter

This matter is indictable which means it is dealt with in the Supreme Court.

Possible defences

Possible defences to this offence include but are not limited to

  1. Self Defence
  2. Defence of another person
  3. Insanity
  4. Identification i.e. not the accused
  5. The killing was not unlawful
  6. An ordinary person in the position of the accused would not have foreseen the death of the deceased as a possible outcome of his act.
  7. The person is not dead i.e. death cannot be proved

What about Murder? here is what the law says

What the law says

Sections 302 of the Criminal Code Queensland states:

  1. A person who unlawfully kills another under any of the following circumstances, thatistosay-
    • (a) if the offender intends to cause the death of the person killed or that of some other person or if the offender intends to do to the person killed or to some other person some grievous bodily harm;
    • (b) if the death is caused by means of an act done in the prosecution of an unlawful purpose, which act is of such a nature as to be likely to endanger human life;
    • (c) if the offender intends to do grievous bodily harm to some person for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a crime which is such that the offender may be arrested without warrant, or for the purpose of facilitating the flight of an offender who has committed or attempted to commit any such crime;
    • (d) if death is caused by wilfully stopping the breath of any person for either of such purposes;

is guilty of murder.

What the police must prove

In order for the Police to prove their case at Court, they must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt.

  1. The person is dead;
  2. The accused killed him; that is he caused his death; and
  3. The accused did so intending to cause his death, or at least to cause him grievous bodily harm

It will be necessary for the Police in every offence to prove that the accused was the person who committed the offence. Click here to learn more about identification evidence.

Maximum penalty

The Maximum penalty for the offence of Murder is life imprisonment.

Which court will hear the matter

This matter is indictable which means it is dealt with in the Supreme Court.

Possible defences

Possible defences to this offence include but are not limited to

  1. The person is not dead.
  2. The death was not caused by the actions of the accused
  3. Self defence or in defence of another
  4. Accident
  5. Identification i.e. not the accused.
  6. Insanity
  7. Provocation (This is a partial defence only, which may reduce the charge to manslaughter.)

 

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