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


Maggie Kirkpatrick, The FREAK from Prisoner, appeals against conviction on child sex offences

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A joke of a sentence for the freak, with all respect, had been married but known to be gay. Seeking to feed inner fantasy’s back in the day maybe? Either way took advantage of a young vulnerable girl

Maggie Kirkpatrick, Prisoner star, appeals against conviction on child sex offences

21/08/15

Australian actor Maggie Kirkpatrick, who starred as “The Freak” in the hit television show Prisoner, has filed an appeal over her conviction on child sex offences committed 31 years ago.

Maggie Kirkpatrick, Prisoner star, found guilty of child sex offences

Maggie Kirkpatrick, Prisoner star, found guilty of child sex offences

Kirkpatrick, 74, was found guilty of two charges of indecent assault and one count of gross indecency with a 14-year-old girl at Kirkpatrick’s Prahran home in 1984, after picking up the teenager from a psychiatric hospital.

Her lawyer said Kirkpatrick maintains her innocence.

The case is set to return to court on September 11.

Kirkpatrick was earlier given an 18-month community corrections order, meaning she would serve her sentence in the community, not prison.

The actor would also be required to complete 100 hours of community service and would be placed on the sex offenders’ register for eight years.

In sentencing, magistrate Peter Mealy said Kirkpatrick had shown no remorse for her actions.

“The victim here was a vulnerable 14-year-old child. The defendant would have known her to be especially vulnerable in view of her being an inpatient at a psychiatric [hospital],” he said.

“The defendant has had the opportunity of watching the unedifying spectacle of the [victim] recounting the offending and being subjected to extensive and vigorous cross examination.

“All along to this point the defendant showed no remorse instead simply protesting at a distance to, in her terms, the untrue and malicious allegations.”

The court was earlier told the victim had not reported the abuse until 2013 because she thought everyone would think she was crazy.

The court heard the teenager had organised a meeting with the actor through a person she met while admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Kew, in Melbourne’s inner east.

Kirkpatrick collected the girl from the hospital and then the pair went back to the actor’s home and shared a meal.

The court heard the pair then ended up in Kirkpatrick’s bedroom, where the abuse took place, before the girl was taken back to the hospital.

In a recorded police interview shown in court, Kirkpatrick maintained she had taken the girl home for dinner but did not abuse her.

She said she was giving the teenager “a day out” in an act of “kindness”.


Maggie Kirkpatrick, Prisoner star, found guilty of child sex offences

Updated yesterday at 8:06pm

Australian actor Maggie Kirkpatrick, who starred as “The Freak” in the hit television show Prisoner, has been found guilty of child sex offences committed 31 years ago.

Kirkpatrick, 74, had denied the two charges of indecent assault and one count of gross indecency with a person under 16.

The court was told on Wednesday that the victim, who cannot be named, was abused at Kirkpatrick’s Prahran home in 1984.

Kirkpatrick was well known for her role as a prison warden in the popular 1980s television series Prisoner.

Today, Magistrate Peter Mealy found her accuser was “a witness of truth”.

Kirkpatrick’s bail was extended and will now be assessed for a Community Corrections Order, meaning she is unlikely to be given a prison term.

She will be sentenced on Friday.

The court had earlier been told the victim had not reported the abuse until 2013 because she thought everyone would think she was crazy.

It was told the teenager had organised a meeting with the actor in 1984 through a person she met while admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Kew, in Melbourne’s inner east.

Kirkpatrick collected the girl from the hospital and then the pair went back to the actor’s home and shared a meal.

The pair then ended up in Kirkpatrick’s bedroom, where the alleged abuse took place, before the girl was taken back to the hospital.

Kirkpatrick told police charges were ‘false and malicious’

In a recorded police interview shown in court, Kirkpatrick said she had taken the girl home for dinner but did not abuse her.

She said she was giving the teenager “a day out” in an act of “kindness”.

She told police she had sent the girl away in a taxi after she caught her raiding her alcohol cabinet and “felt I should put a stop to it”.

Later in the interview said she “did not have anything to say other than they’re false and malicious in my mind”.

“These [accusations] are making me feel quite ill,” she told police.

A high school friend of the victim told the hearing that the girl was a “big fan” of the TV show at the time.

The husband of the victim said his wife had raised the abuse after she became uncomfortable during an “intimate” conversation.

“She told me that she’d been invited to a person’s place or a lady’s place and that person was the nasty one on Prisoner … she just said that … some sexual things happened but she didn’t elaborate,” he said.


Maggie Kirkpatrick: Alleged child sexual abuse victim of TV star had ‘Prisoner obsession’

Updated Wed at 5:20pm

The woman who has accused a star of the hit Australian television drama Prisoner of abusing her as a child was a “big fan” of the show, a Melbourne court has heard.

Maggie Kirkpatrick, 74, has denied two charges of indecent assault and one count of gross indecency with a person under 16.

She was well-known for her role as a prison warden nicknamed “The Freak” in the popular 1980s television series.

Detective Senior Constable Katherine Mitchell told the court the alleged victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told police she had been abused by Kirkpatrick at the actor’s Prahran home when she was 14.

It allegedly took place in 1984.

In a statement read to the court, the alleged victim said she had not reported the abuse until two years ago because everyone would think she was crazy.

It said the victim had organised meeting the actor through a person she met while she had been admitted to the Newhaven psychiatric hospital in Kew.

It was alleged that Kirkpatrick collected the victim from the hospital and took her back to Kirkpatrick’s home, where they shared a meal.

She said the pair then ended up in Kirkpatrick’s bedroom, where the alleged abuse took place.

The victim said she was then given a yellow coloured jumper and a signed photograph and driven back to the hospital.

You have astonished me with those allegations… it’s beyond comprehension.

She also told police she recalled Kirkpatrick being most disappointed as she was not sexually experienced.

The court was shown Kirkpatrick’s videotaped police interview, in which she admitted taking the teenager back to her home for dinner but denied abusing her.

The actor said she sent the girl away in a taxi after she caught her raiding her alcohol cabinet.

“It was a kindness to give her a day out,” Kirkpatrick said during the interview.

“I then became a tad uncomfortable as while I was cooking and having a glass of wine, she decided to get into the alcohol in the dining room… I felt I should put a stop to it.”

Kirkpatrick initially waived her right not to answer any questions but later said she “did not have anything to say other than they’re false and malicious in my mind”.

“These [accusations] are making me feel quite ill,” she said.

“You have astonished me with those allegations… it’s beyond comprehension.”

Victim told husband of alleged abuse years later

A witness told the hearing that the alleged victim was a “big fan” of the TV show when she was a teenager.

The witness said she became high school friends with the alleged victim and remembered visiting her when she was in hospital.

She recalled the alleged victim telling her she had met Kirkpatrick.

“By my memory it was when she was at Newhaven and I don’t recall any of the particulars, just her making reference to it and her being very excited,” the witness said.

“The only thing I recall was an invitation [for her] to go somewhere … with Maggie.

“I remember that she was a big fan of the show and watched it religiously and would often refer to what she’d seen in the show, different episodes.”

The witness agreed with defence suggestions describing the alleged victim as having a “Prisoner obsession” and being a “Prisoner freak”.

The husband of the alleged victim told the court that his wife became uncomfortable during an “intimate” conversation they had in the mid 2000s.

“She told me that she’d been invited to a person’s place or a lady’s place and that person was the nasty one on Prisoner … she just said that … some sexual things happened but she didn’t elaborate,” he said.

Kirkpatrick did not comment to reporters outside court.

The hearing before Magistrate Peter Mealy is continuing.


 

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

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update 14/8/15

smh.com.au

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


TAKE 2

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

Paul Bibby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Roger Rogerson.

Roger Rogerson. Source: DailyTelegraph

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

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

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

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


NICK RALSTON

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.”

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


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

Nick McKenzie

Mafia in Australia – Drugs, Murder and Politics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Back in 2007, I knew none of this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

FORMER AFL player Nick Stevens has been granted bail just hours after being jailed for domestic abuse.


NO EXCUSES EVER Big tough footy player thinks it is ok to thump his ex-partner around and abuse and harrass her over the phone and in person. Jailed for 8 pathetic months and walks out the door on bail after appealing.

I hope she is in a safe place. This could potentially end in another tragedy. Disgusting…

“The 34-year-old, who played 231 games for Carlton and Port Adelaide before retiring in 2009, told his former girlfriend he was going to kill her and her dad after smashing her face into a tiled kitchen wall, the court heard.”

Convicted AFL abuser Stevens bailed

Former AFL player Nick Stevens

A former AFL player jailed for domestic abuse has been granted bail after filing an appeal. Source: AAP

LAWYERS for the former Carlton star are appealing his eight month jail sentence and his conviction for bashing and threatening his ex-girlfriend.

Stevens, 35, was found guilty of smashing his ex-girlfriend’s face into a kitchen bench and threatening to kill her and her father. He will return to court in April.

His 12 charges include assault, intentionally causing serious injury, threatening to kill and threatening to inflict serious injury.
He also pleaded guilty to breaching an intervention order after sending 2,500 text messages to the woman. The former footballer was ordered to serve eight months jail time, a 12 month community corrections order and pay a $400 fine.
Stevens’ lawyers are also appealing the penalty for the intervention order breach. In sentencing Stevens earlier on Wednesday, Magistrate Nunzio La Rosa said he showed no remorse and wouldn’t hesitate to manipulate the victim both psychologically and emotionally. He said after police laid charges against Stevens, he twice called the victim and threatened her.


Nick Stevens, former Carlton and Port Adelaide player, jailed over domestic violence charges

Updated 59 minutes ago

Former AFL footballer Nick Stevens, who showed “no remorse” after bashing his former partner, has been released on bail after being sentenced to eight months in jail on charges relating to domestic violence.

Stevens was found guilty in January of assault, threats to kill and intentionally causing injury to his ex-partner while they were dating in 2012 and 2013.

The 34-year-old, who played 231 games for Carlton and Port Adelaide before retiring in 2009, told his former girlfriend he was going to kill her and her dad after smashing her face into a tiled kitchen wall, the court heard.

He also caused grazing to her face on a separate occasion by pushing her head into the outside wall of a house, and pushed and kicked her when she threw wine at him during a fight.

In sentencing, Magistrate Nunzio La Rosa said Stevens had shown no remorse for his actions.

The magistrate said the pair had lived together and loved each other but “violence by men against women, put in an intimate setting, is to be opposed in stern terms”.

“That your career has suffered there is no doubt, but there is no legal basis to differentiate him from others simply because they have more to lose or have lost more,” Mr La Rosa said.

Stevens’ lawyer launched an appeal against the sentence and the former AFL star was released on bail until the hearing in April.

Outside court Stevens told reporters he respected the court’s decision and had no further comment.

The Ringwood Magistrates Court previously heard Stevens had also breached an intervention order more than 2,500 times in two months, mostly in text messages to his former girlfriend.

Many of the messages were abusive and threatened self-harm, the court also heard.

Stevens pleaded guilty to breaching the intervention order.

He had been coaching SANFL club Glenelg but was sacked after being found guilty of the charges.

Belle Gibson’s publisher has pulled her book from Australian shelves following accusations she faked her terminal brain cancer.


I SO WANTED TO LEAVE THIS BUT This saga keeps changing, there is no doubt now she faked much of her claims. The once award-winning young ladies life has come crashing down.

WE all fall from grace at one time or another in our life but this was of an epic scale, and the worst of the worst for cancer sufferers and survivors as well as supporters and family of those who are gone from our lives. her silence is deafening, but I hope other media come out as have Fairfax Media to state they have not paid anyone for any info on this story

(Which has been a big part of Belle’s rants since it broke. Saying others are making money off her now! )

Health blogger and app developer Belle Gibson hits back at ‘bullying’ critics
March 16, 2015 – 5:34AM

Allison Worral

Belle Gibson, creator of the app The Whole PantryBelle Gibson, creator of the app The Whole Pantry Photo: Jeffrey Glorfeld

Belle Gibson, the popular health blogger accused of falsely claiming to have cancer, has blasted her critics for speaking out against her.

Breaking her recent social media silence, Ms Gibson lashed out at former friends and acquaintances who had publicly doubted her claims of being ill, telling them to “make yourself invisible to me”.

The 23-year-old Melbourne woman founded health and wellbeing app The Whole Pantry, which has been under close scrutiny after it was revealed many of the charities the organisation had promised to donate to had not received any money.

Belle Gibson's book based around her The Whole Pantry app.

Belle Gibson’s book based around her The Whole Pantry app.

The Whole Pantry app, along with a Penguin book of the same name, promoted healthy living and Ms Gibson boasted natural foods and alternative therapies had fought off the multiple cancers she claimed to suffer.

But serious questions have been raised over the entrepreneur’s claims of surviving terminal brain cancer without treatment, as well as being diagnosed with four other types of cancer.

Former friends and work colleagues have accused Ms Gibson of lying about the extent of her illness, with some suggesting she may not have cancer at all.

On Friday night Ms Gibson hit back in a rambling Facebook post, sarcastically encouraging her followers to speak to the media if they needed to because “it says more about you, and your priorities than me or the story you’ll get paid to tell”.

Ms Gibson, who wrote of being “bullied to my death”, went on to defend the work of The Whole Pantry.

“…I know the work my company and it’s [sic] contents did changed hundreds of thousands for the better,” she wrote.

In another post she said those who had spoken publicly about her were “knowingly contributing to the blatant attacking and bullying of myself and my family”.

The Melbourne mother did not disprove claims she had lied about or exaggerated having cancer but promised an “open letter” was on its way.

Ms Gibson’s latest comments, posted under a Facebook alias, follow the recent removal of thousands of posts on her social media accounts.

Fairfax Media has not paid anyone for information about Belle Gibson


Whole Pantry cookbook PULLED from the shelves by Penguin after publisher casts doubt on health guru Belle Gibson’s brain cancer survival story

  • Penguin Books have decided to pull her book from Australian shelves
  • Blogger Belle Gibson, 23, is accused of faking her terminal brain cancer
  • She claimed eating well and using a natural approach to life saved her
  • Ms Gibson launched successfully popular The Whole Pantry app and book
  • More than 300,000 angry fans and customers have demanded a refund
  • They have taken to the company’s Facebook page to make a stand 
  • Her friends raised doubts about her survival story and charity donations
  • Former school mates have labelled the 23-year-old as a ‘drama queen’ 

Belle Gibson’s publisher has pulled her book from Australian shelves following accusations she faked her terminal brain cancer.

Penguin Books – who publishes Ms Gibson’s The Whole Pantry recipe book – shared the news with Daily Mail Australia via an email statement on Monday.

The book was written in conjunction with her hugely successful app of the same name, which focuses on health, wellness and lifestyle.

Australian blogger Belle Gibson (seen, left, with a bottle of champagne) has hit out at those who have accused her survival story of being fake

Clean-living Belle Gibson, seen here with a pint in her hand, told the friends who have spoken out about her to ‘make yourself invisible to me, and my life’

‘Despite our best endeavours, Penguin Books has not received sufficient explanation from Ms Gibson, author of The Whole Pantry recipe book, in response to recent allegations,’ the publisher said.

‘As such, we have been left with no other option but to stop supplying the book in Australia.

‘We remain hopeful that we will receive the formal assurances we have requested in the coming days.’

This follows Ms Gibson hitting back at the friends who have spoken publicly about her as old photos emerged of her enjoying alcohol.

In a long Facebook post, the Australian blogger told those who have spoken out about her to ‘make yourself invisible to me, and my life.’

The health fanatic shot to social media fame after claiming she had managed to ward off a terminal brain cancer diagnosis simply through eating well and using a natural and holistic approach to life.

Young mum: Close friends told Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday that Ms Gibson may have departed Australia for the United States this week

Back in July 2013, Ms Gibson posted on The Whole Pantry Facebook page about her ‘severe and malignant brain cancer’

Ms Gibson gave hope to cancer sufferers worldwide after she revealed that she had prolonged her life despite shunning conventional medical treatment and relying on her own ‘whole life’ concept.

But after doubt was cast over her claims, the Sydney Morning Herald reported she wrote to her friends on Facebook this weekend: ‘You are knowingly contributing to the blatant attacking and bullying of myself and my family.’

‘You’re not making the world an any (sic) better place by choosing to become part of the latest media snowball, remember that.’

Meanwhile, photos have emerged on Facebook of Ms Gibson holding a bottle of champagne to her mouth and sipping on a pint of beer before she became a clean-living star.

Social media users attempting to ‘expose’ Ms Gibson have begun posting images and old claims about her cancer on Facebook.

On Friday, she stood by her projects, writing: ‘…I know the work my company and it’s [sic] contents did changed hundreds of thousands for the better.’

On the same day, thousands of angry customers who bought healthy living app and book The Whole Pantry are demanding their money back after finding out founder Ms Gibson’s cancer story could be false.

Taking to The Whole Pantry’s Facebook page, some of the 300,000 people who downloaded the app have called for their money to be refunded and have slammed the mother-of-one for misleading her followers.

‘Lies, Lies and more Lies. I demand a refund,’ one unhappy customer said.

‘What kind of person fakes illnesses for attention. She has mental health issues and needs help. It scares me to think how many people have died following her natural therapy cancer treatment diet/lifestyle. Disgusting,’ another Facebook commenter said.

Ms Gibson has deleted thousands of photos and social media posts which directly reference her multiple cancer diagnoses, but an example of them – seen by Daily Mail Australia – can be found below:

Back in July 2013, Ms Gibson posted on The Whole Pantry Facebook page: ‘It’s unfortunate that there is someone on my Instagram trying to discredit the natural healing path I am on.’

She went on to say: ‘As always, with everything, this is my journey and I encourage you to do what is best for your body and situation with love and an open mind.

‘I have been healing a severe and malignant brain cancer for the past few years with natural medicine, gerson therapy and foods.

‘It’s working for me and I am grateful to be here sharing this journey with over 70,000 people worldwide. Thank you for being here – xx Belle.’

In a reference to her liver cancer, she posted on Instagram under her account @healing_belle, a photo of a pink smoothie enriched with ‘extra support’.

‘This one is for my rash (thanks, liver cancer), inflammation (thanks flying) and for general immunity.’

In another Instagram post she wrote: ‘Going from 6 weeks to live, to celebrating my fourth year with brain cancer, I know now that respecting your own journey and intuitively healing, listening and living as YOUR body, mind and path intended is staple.’

In July 2014, she broke the news of further illness to her followers through an impassioned post to her personal Instagram page.

It read in part: ‘With frustration and ache in my heart // my beautiful, gamechanging community, it hurts me to find space tonight to let you all know with love and strength that I’ve been diagnosed with a third and fourth cancer.

‘One is secondary and the other is primary. I have cancer in my blood, spleen, brain, uterus, and liver. I am hurting,’ Ms Gibson wrote.

About 12 weeks after the initial post she followed up, revealing she was undergoing ‘German integrative oncology protocol’.

The Whole Pantry (pictured above, in cookbook form) is also a popular app, which costs $3.79 to download. The app is slated to appear on the new Apple Watch

The Whole Pantry (pictured above, in cookbook form) is also a popular app, which costs $3.79 to download. The app is slated to appear on the new Apple Watch

The Whole Pantry founder's stories are being questioned as people demand answers from the health guru

The Whole Pantry founder’s stories are being questioned as people demand answers from the health guru

Many others called for the entrepreneur to face up to her lies and do the right thing. Questions have also been raised about her donations to charity.

She told her social media followers last year her brain cancer had spread to her blood, liver, spleen, uterus and that she did not expect to survive.

It has been reported that Ms Gibson has met with lawyers to fight the claims her story is fake.

School friends of the under-fire Whole Pantry founder now query whether the health guru invented stories ‘to get sympathy’ and have told how she warned people against vaccination while she was in high school.

Ms Gibson attended Wynnum State High School in Brisbane and former classmates describe the health guru as a ‘drama queen’ who constantly reinvented herself and backed medical cannabis. 

Former school friend Chris Green said Ms Gibson was ‘a drama queen. There was always something going on with her.’

‘At one stage she was an emo, then a skater girl then she was a surfer chick; she was always something different,’ Mr Green told The Courier Mail.

Mr Green also said that Ms Gibson never mentioned an autistic brother or a mother with multiple sclerosis, who she had previously claimed to be a carer for.

One anonymous school friend said that Ms Gibson would often post information advocating against vaccinations and pushed the viewpoint quite hard.

Former classmate Meg Weier said that Ms Gibson was quite strange.

Doting mother: Ms Gibson, pictured with another friend, founded the popular app and cookbook Whole Pantry

In another Instagram post she wrote: 'Going from 6 weeks to live, to celebrating my fourth year with brain cancer'

In another Instagram post she wrote: ‘Going from 6 weeks to live, to celebrating my fourth year with brain cancer’

Young mother: Ms Gibson, the mother of Olivier (pictured) has established a successful business in Whole Pantry

Young mother: Ms Gibson, the mother of Olivier (pictured) has established a successful business in Whole Pantry

Jayme Smith (pictured left, with her two children) met Belle Gibson online and maintained a friendship over social media until they had a falling out

Friends close to the mum-of-one have said that she may have gone overseas to avoid confronting claims that her remarkable cancer survival story is not all it seems.

Another former friend of Ms Gibson has called on her to ‘come clean’ on her ‘misdiagnosis’.

Mother-of-two Jayne Smith, 28, from Sydney, became a confidant of Ms Gibson’s after they met on a parenting discussion page on Facebook around 2010.

They forged an online friendship and confided over their experiences with cancer – Ms Smith having lost her mother to lung cancer in 2003 and Ms Gibson saying she had brain cancer.

BY THE NUMBERS: THE WHOLE PANTRY

  • Over 300,000 people have downloaded the app since its release 
  • The company failed to donate $300,000 that was promised to charities
  • The app costs $3.79AUD in Australia
  • Last year it was announced the app will be presented on the Apple Watch, which will come out on April 24, 2015 in Australia

Ms Smith told Daily Mail Australia she was ‘baffled’ when reports emerged this week where friends raised doubts about Ms Gibson’s medical diagnoses and charity donations.

‘I am just so shocked and I feel betrayed, that we all fell so hard for the illusion that she created,’ Ms Smith said.

‘It has hit all of us, who I know, (who) also know Belle, like a tonne of bricks.’

‘We only knew her online, but we all believed to a point that she was a genuine pioneer, who was surviving aggressive cancer.

‘Belle and I talked quite a bit about my feelings about (cancer), how she could empathise with me, the feelings I felt about my mother dying and how I’d wished I was more responsible when it happened, that I’d wished I had tried to explore more ideas, like Belle did.’

Ms Smith said Ms Gibson ‘pushed’ – and nearly convinced her – not to vaccinate her children, but that she did not blame her for nearly making that choice, which she ‘backed out of at the last minute’.

‘That was my own choice, based on information provided by Belle. I regret that choice (to nearly not vaccinate), but it was my own. I’m not here to place blame.’

In November 2014, Ms Gibson told Sunday Style magazine she blamed the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil for her cancer.

After friends and medical experts cast doubt on her medical claims in various media stories this week, Ms Gibson told The Australian she may have been ‘misdiagnosed’.

‘It’s hard to admit that maybe you were wrong,’ she told the newspaper, adding that she was ‘confused, bordering on humiliated’.

In a reference to her liver cancer, she posted on Instagram under her account @healing_belle, a photo of a pink smoothie enriched with 'extra support'

In a reference to her liver cancer, she posted on Instagram under her account @healing_belle, a photo of a pink smoothie enriched with ‘extra support’

The Whole Pantry, a popular app, gained media attention because of Ms Gibson's remarkable story about cancer survival 

The Whole Pantry, a popular app, gained media attention because of Ms Gibson’s remarkable story about cancer survival 

The company she founded, The Whole Pantry, said donations to charities that allegedly failed to arrive had been ‘accounted for and not processed’ and that promised donations ‘would be honoured’.

Ms Smith told Daily Mail Australia she was ‘baffled’ by this week’s allegations and was most upset about the hope Ms Gibson’s followers had invested in her program if she was being dishonest.

She said Ms Gibson had the ‘gift of the gab’ and ‘needs to answer to these people (her followers), because they are good hearted people who deserve answers’.

‘I don’t care about exposing Belle. I haven’t spoken to her for months, years.

‘I just want her to confirm or deny (her diagnoses) so people who put their faith in her, invested in her – they need to know.

‘They need to know, if they’ve rejected conventional medicine on what she’s saying.

‘It’s their lives, it’s not a game.’

Belle Gibson: the entrepreneur behind The Whole Pantry app

Ms Smith said of Belle Gibson (above): 'If I saw Belle now, I would just ask her to tell the truth. That's all I want'

Ms Smith said of Belle Gibson (above): ‘If I saw Belle now, I would just ask her to tell the truth. That’s all I want’

Ms Gibson wrote about how she chose a cancer patient called Joshua to 'donate 100% of app sales to' 

Ms Gibson wrote about how she chose a cancer patient called Joshua to ‘donate 100% of app sales to’ 

After three years of sometimes personal exchanges online, Ms Gibson and Ms Smith stopped talking after the development of the Whole Pantry app.

‘If I saw Belle now, I would just ask her to tell the truth. That’s all I want.

‘I don’t want to see her beg people for mercy. I don’t want her to beg for forgiveness – I just want the truth.

‘Come clean, be transparent, let the world know where you’re at. If you were misdiagnosed, own up to it.

‘Belle DID create an exceptional application, that is loved by many, but I think she should sell it for what it is, complimentary medicines and a diet – not life saving treatment.

‘All people want is the truth from her.’

Close friends told Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday that Ms Gibson may have left for the United States. Police visited her home on Tuesday night to check on her welfare, but she was not there.

Multiple calls to Ms Gibson’s mobile rang out.

IN TWEETS, BELLE GIBSON DESCRIBED HERSELF AS A ‘DISTINGUISHED PHYSCOPATH’ (SIC)

Amid claims that the entrepreneur behind The Whole Pantry app has fled to country, more details about Belle Gibson’s past are coming to light.

The young social media personality – who came under fire after claims her ‘terminal cancer’ and incredible survival story from the life-threatening illness were false – once described herself as a psychopath.

Ms Gibson has previously gone under the name of Annabelle Natalie Gibson, and tweeted in 2009: @bellmneb: ‘Is a distinguished physcopath (sic),’ the Herald Sun reported.

The next month she sent another tweet, from the account which appears to have been removed.

‘Obama won the nobel peace prize. This is more f***ed then (sic) the government giving me cancer. #obamawinsnobelprize,’ it read.

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