Craig Thomson found guilty on fraud charges over union funds used for prostitutes
UPDATED February 18, 2014
So the lying cheating rorting ex MP and senior union official has been found guilty. All the lies on TV and in Parliament to his fellow MP’s has been proven. What now? well 10 years of appeals probably, forget jail, he will not do any time for this, most likely keep his parliamentary pension and perks BUT It is yet to be seen what the union will now do about him to save face with union members, spend 3 million to sue him for 40 grand? Sick and wrong isn’t it…
UPDATE: THE former union official accused of setting Craig Thomson up “with a bunch of hookers” says he feels vindicated after the disgraced former MP was today found guilty of using members’ funds to pay for sex.
Thomson accused Marco Balano, former deputy general secretary of Health Services Union East, of setting him up after threatening to destroy his career before allegations of misusing his union credit cards surfaced.
A defiant Thomson publicly denied the allegations as untrue for several years before his arrest by police at his parliamentary office in January last year.
He even made an impassioned plea to parliament in 2012 during which he claimed Mr Bolano “threatened to set me up with hookers”.
“There was a particular threat made … by Marco Bolano … to the effect that he would seek to ruin any political career that I might have sought by setting me up with a ‘bunch of hookers’,” Thomson claimed.
Craig Thomson found guilty on fraud charges 2:53
He also claimed to have several witnesses who signed statements of complaint in 2005 claiming they had witnessed Mr Bolano threatening to try and set Mr Thomson up with prostitutes.
Mr Bolano later responded to the claims calling them “fantastic” and “dishonest”.
Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg today found Thomson was guilty of six charges of using HSU credit cards to pay for sex, as well as other charges including theft.
Other charges involving hiring pornographic movies and spousal travel were dismissed.
“He’s got the hide of a rhinoceros,” Mr Bolano said
“I knew there was no way he could get out of it,” he said.
“It is a vindication though, that he has been found guilty.
“It is a vindication that the lies he told about me under parliamentary privilege have been proven to be c — p.”
Mr Bolano said he believed Thomson had an “overwhelming sense of entitlement”.
“I actually believe in his mind, even though he knows he breached the law, he doesn’t believe he did anything wrong,” he said.
“But these offences took place immediately after he took office (in 2003).
“It was the culture within the union.”
Escort says former MP Thomson ‘lying’ 1:30
An escort who says she met with Craig Thomson claims he denied using union credit cards to pay for sex.
Mr Bolano said the planned Royal Commission into unions would uncover more skeletons in union cupboards.
HSU acting national secretary Chris Brown said the union would look at options to recover the money defrauded by Mr Thomson.
“I promised the HSU members that we would seek to recover any monies stolen from the union and that is exactly what we intend to do,” he said.
Mr Thomson is still facing civil proceedings in the Federal Court brought by the General Manager of Fair Work Australia.
In his decision announced today, Mr Rozencwajg found Thomson must have known he didn’t have authority to use the card for sex.
“It was an affront to common sense to say it allowed paying for sex workers,” he said.
Thomson slumped back in his chair as Mr Rozencwajg read his way through his ruling, which lasted more than 30 minutes.
A packed courtroom watched as Mr Rozencwajg, who has presided over Mr Thomson’s case since he first appeared in court last February, handed down his decision just after 11am AEST.
Mr Thomson, who pleaded not guilty to 145 dishonesty charges over the alleged misuse of $28,449 between 2002 and 2008, has persistently denied any wrongdoing.
But police argued he used members’ funds while head of the HSU to pay for porn, prostitutes, travel for his then wife, and cigarettes.
During a lengthy contest hearing last month prosecutors tendered more than 80 witness statements including some from escort workers.
One, who used the name Misty, said she remembered Mr Thomson clearly.
She said she met him on a series of occasions while she was working for Room Services escort agency in Sydney’s Surry Hills between 2007 and 2008.
In her statement, tendered at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court during the hearing, the woman said she regularly met him in Sydney’s CBD.
He had introduced himself as Craig, a solicitor from the NSW Central Coast.
“Sex always occurred on the bed and he would shower before and after,” she said.
“On the occasions when Craig and I met, as part of my services he started by offering me a glass of champagne.
“From memory he already had the champagne ready.”
They met on about six occasions, she said.
“He was a person who I noticed did not wear a wedding ring and did not speak of having a wife or whether he was in any form of committed relationship,” she said.
“He was one of three men who I would have called a regular client.’’
Nelson Da Silva, a former director of escort service Tiffany’s Girls, said Mr Thomson would have been one of about 200 to visit the Sydney brothel on a Saturday night in June 2005.
He told police his records matched a $418 transaction on Mr Thomson’s HSU Commonwealth Bank MasterCard.
“It stated the time frame for the booking was 1.5 hours with $190 for the room rental,” he said.
“The room was RT which was a Red Turbo Spa Room — this room was one of our expensive rooms.”
Mr Thomson’s defence barrister, Greg James, QC, said Mr Thomson did not deny making the transactions but argued about his authority to do so.
The case had been thrown into turmoil after closing submissions by both parties last month, when Mr Rozencwajg asked prosecutors about the wording of the charges.
He said many of the theft and deception charges were unnecessarily confusing and complex and may have been charged incorrectly.
The Abbott Government wants Mr Thomson and Bill Shorten to say both sorry following the verdict.
“Mr Thomson owes an apology to the thousands of honest union members he defrauded, in addition to the Parliament and public, whom he also misled,” Employment Minister Eric Abetz said.
The Senator believes the Opposition Leader should follow on behalf of the Labor Party, “for its role in promoting and protecting Craig Thomson for so many years”.
“Until he does so, Australians can have no confidence that the party has learned any lessons from the Thomson saga.”
The Coalition claims the results proves the need for a Royal Commission into union corruption.
Mr Thomson will return to court on March 18 for a plea hearing.
Update-This poor excuse of a public official has spend more than an hour under parliamentary privilege, blaming everyone else, pointing fingers, justifying the unjustifiable, declaring that all sorts of frauds are possible.BUT non include anything he has ever done. He is a saint according to him…He has not ADDRESSED one accusation and try to justify it…
This joke will go down in history as the most embarrassing speech ever…Think Pauline Hansen and Migrants…this tops everything…
Well you thieving little moron. I have scanned documents, sent to me by many sources, (some from your so called allies) and I think I will release them one a day at a time, to ridicule your pathetic attempts to defect your illegal, behaviours…
Let us disregard your moral misdemeanours… Here is this disgusting PM’s email he sent to his colleagues bragging about Fairfax last year……
Thomson resigns from ALP as PM seeks to distance govt from scandals
Mr Thomson, who has been battling allegations for several years that he misused his credit card as a union official before entering parliament, will join the cross-benches as an independent.
Ms Gillard spoke to Mr Thomson on Saturday night and told him it was no longer in the interests of the government for him to remain part of the Labor caucus.
On Sunday morning, she told Mr Slipper that she thought he should remain out of the Speaker’s chair “for a further period of time”.
Mr Slipper stepped aside as Speaker last week amid allegations of misuse of tax-payer funded Cabcharge vouchers and sexual harassment of a staffer.
She added that it was her understanding that Mr Slipper would not be able to vote in Parliament.
Ms Gillard, who returned on the weekend from an Anzac Day trip to Turkey, said she had acted because “a line had been crossed” and she wanted to restore the public’s faith in the parliament.
“I feel keenly Australians are looking at this parliament and at the moment they see a dark cloud over it,” she said on Sunday.
“I want to be sure that Australians can look at this institution and feel respect for this institution.”
Mr Thomson’s move to the cross-bench reduce Labor’s numbers to 70 votes in the House of Representatives. The Coalition has 71 votes.
Labor also has the casting vote of Acting Speaker Anna Burke. Mr Thomson is expected to still vote with Labor.
Ms Gillard said it was important to respect Parliament but also to respect the presumption of innocence in relation to both Mr Slipper and Mr Thomson.
“Coming back to Australia, being right here now, I have felt very sharply the judgments and concerns of the Australian people,” she said.
“I’m not going to put myself in the position of adjudicating these matters … There is not one person standing here today, not me or any of you, who is in possession of the full facts of either or these matters.
“I don’t believe as a nation we want to get to the situation where people are prejudged.”
Questioned on whether she would now revisit independent MP Andrew Wilkie’s poker machine reforms, Ms Gillard said the proposal did not have enough support to pass Parliament and maintained her commitment to Labor’s proposed reforms.
Mr Wilkie tore up his agreement to support Labor earlier this year over its failure to deliver his reforms on pokie machines but has resumed talks, while independent MP Bob Katter and WA Nationals MP Tony Crook vote with the Coalition.
Ms Gillard reiterated her intention to bring the budget back into surplus.
Grubby politics destroying public confidence
As Labor grapples with the extreme politics of minority government, it is becoming clear that, driven by desperation to stay in power, this government has lost its bearings.
Neither the Peter Slipper affair nor the Health Services Union imbroglio have fully played out. It is not clear which, if any, current or former HSU officials, including MP Craig Thomson, may face charges over alleged rorting of union funds. Nor is it apparent whether the sexual harassment and travel entitlements misuse allegations against Mr Slipper are true.
With respect to the Slipper affair, we do not know if there has been any involvement by members of the Coalition, their staff, or the Liberal or National parties, in bringing the Slipper allegations to light. Certainly Tony Abbott’s responses when queried on this have not ruled anything much out.
What is obvious to the public at large is that in an atmosphere where the government’s grip on power is up for grabs every day, there has been a weakened sense of propriety.
Minority government has left the Labor Party, with Julia Gillard at the helm, seemingly incapable of making the wise choices necessary for good government.
Regardless of the outcome of the investigations, Mr Slipper was a very unwise choice as the Speaker of the House, and should never have been appointed to that role.
Given its pivotal role in our Parliament, this position should be filled by someone whose behaviour at the very least is not going to distract from the business of presiding over the Parliament.
Had the Prime Minister the fortitude, or even the interest, she should have investigated suggestions that Mr Slipper’s behaviour made him unsuitable.
Before he was appointed it was known that Mr Slipper was prone to errors in his travel entitlements. He had already been forced to pay back expenses wrongly claimed. Other questions were circling, and his own Liberal National Party, having tolerated his behaviour for years, was moving, glacially, towards disendorsing him.
And even though Mr Slipper has this week strenuously denied signing blank Cabcharge dockets, The Australian Financial Review reported on Friday that the payments listed on the dockets showed peculiar and extraordinary coincidences.
It is all very well to try to excuse the Slipper appointment as one that was made necessary by politics. At the time the Financial Review said that some regarded the move as using the Speaker’s role as a pawn in an arrangement of political convenience.
But forgetting for a moment the responsibility that Ms Gillard had to appoint someone as Speaker who was fit for the job, even if she was making a purely cynical political calculation, as she most surely was, the selection of Mr Slipper was ridiculously risky. If there is even the sniff of evidence of wrongdoing, it is dangerous to leave a government’s standing dependent on that person.
Ironically she made the Russian roulette-like move to appoint Mr Slipper because she had recanted from a high stakes promise made to Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie to implement poker machine reforms, in order to secure his backing for her minority government. That promise had unleashed a wave of lobbying by the poker machine industry and one James Packer, so Ms Gillard retreated. But in burning Mr Wilkie, she had to find another live body to vote for her government.
In the Financial Review this week, former Clerk of the Senate Harry Evans described Mr Slipper’s appointment as a low point in the degradation of the speakership and of the House of Representatives, which has been going on for decades.
The public’s appetite for politics is already at one of its lowest ebbs. This grubby episode, on the eve of one of the most important federal budgets in many years, further destroys public confidence in the political process. It will distract from, and may even subvert, the good the government is trying to achieve by restoring the budget to surplus.
The common thread between the HSU matter and the Slipper affair is that both involve an apparent abuse of entitlements by individuals on whose vote the government relies to maintain its grip on power, and the government has been doing whatever it takes to protect them. Thursday’s high level involvement of Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten in deciding to install an administrator to take control of the HSU, again raises questions about motive, as the immediate beneficiary is the government.
Rather than thinking only of its own survival, the government should start making some good choices. That could involve ruling out Mr Slipper’s return to the speakership even if he is cleared of all allegations of wrongdoing. The fact that Mr Wilkie would not support his return to the role has seemingly forced the government’s hand on this.
Good governance would also involve the government allowing the release of the Fair Work Australia report of its investigation into the HSU, as well as the HSU’s report by barrister Ian Temby and accountant Dennis Robertson, and even considering an independent process which can deal with allegations of misconduct or fraud within unions.
UPDATE: PRIME Minister Julia Gillard has asked embattled Labor backbencher Craig Thomson to quit the party and move to the cross-bench.
p>In an effort to assert her leadership, Ms Gillard made the announcement in Canberra this morning, ahead of Mr Thomson’s own press conference outside his electorate office in Tuggerah on the NSW Central Coast at 1pm.
“I understand the matters concerning Mr Thomson and Mr Slipper have caused Australians to become concerned about standards in public life today,” Ms Gillard told reporters.
She said Australians were looking at parliament and “seeing a dark cloud”.
Ms Gillard said after returning from overseas she spoke to Mr Thomson yesterday.
“I indicated to Mr Thomson I have decided it’s appropriate for him to no longer participate in the Labor caucus,” she said.
She has also asked Peter Slipper to step aside as Speaker for a period of time.
Mr Thomson has been the focus of claims of misuse of Health Services Union (HSU) funds during his time as its national secretary.
He allegedly used a union credit card to pay for prostitutes, lavish meals and cash withdrawals during his time as head of the union.
He is among several former and current HSU officials who are the subject of two Fair Work Australia investigations, police probes in NSW and Victoria, and an internal inquiry by former corruption buster Ian Temby QC.
Mr Thomson denies any wrongdoing during his time with the union from 2002 to 2007.
The move changes the make-up of the federal parliament, reducing Labor to 70 MPs, after deputy speaker Anna Burke takes over the Speaker’s chair from Mr Slipper, who is embroiled in allegations over taxi voucher misuse and sexual harassment.
It’s believed Mr Thomson will continue to support Labor as an independent.
The move comes as Mr Thomson will attempt to distance himself from the Government with the potentially damning release of a Fair Work Australia investigation into his alleged misconduct during his time as the Health Services Union boss.
Mr Thomson will continue to vote with the Gillard Government and will back any movement to quash no-confidence motions in the Government and the speakership of Peter Slipper, leaving Ms Gillard’s narrow grip on power intact, reports The Daily Telegraph.
Mr Thomson’s announcement is another potential crippling blow to the prospects of Ms Gillard retaining power.
Friends of Craig Thomson, who have spoken to him in the past 24 hours, told the Herald Sun this morning that the embattled MP was trying to give Ms Gillard “clear air”.
“He is a formidable character and always Cabinet material but he’s done what he has to do to give the Prime Minister clear air,” the friend said.
“There was no pressure brought to bear, this was his call.”
But sources said last night Prime Minister Julia Gillard had asked Thomson to step aside.
But Mr Thomson will still vote with the Labor government from the crossbenches.
“He will still vote with Labor, he’s a Labor man but he had to do something to stop the continuing attacks by the Coalition and Kathy Jackson who are trying to make the Gillard government less stable,” the friend said.
“Craig wants to clear the air and give the Prime Minister a clear run, despite Kathy Jackson’s attempts to remove him.”
Health Services Union national secretary Kathy Jackson first raised allegations against Mr Thomson in April, 2009, which led to a Fair Work Australia investigation and to separate inquiries by Victorian and New South Wales police.
Mr Thomson was accused of making $100,000 worth of cash advances on a union credit card without providing receipts for expenses and of using the same card to pay for prostitutes.
Ms Jackson said this morning that Mr Thomson could not avoid the allegations by moving to the cross benches.
“He claims he is innocent, I hope he doesn’t sit there on the cross benches and stay silent,” she said.
“This doesn’t solve anything; he still needs to address the allegations. He owes the members of the HSU an explanation.”
Ms Jackson said she was not trying to destabilise the Gillard Government, but merely standing up for her members.
“It’s his actions, it’s not my actions. This is a little too late for the Labor Party and the union movement – the damage has already been done,” she said.
Mr Thomson’s lawyers have asked Fair Work Australia not to release an 1100-page report into the HSU, arguing it may prejudice a criminal investigation.
Victorian and New South Wales police investigations are ongoing.
Sorry if there is a draft that has been published…I was working on a piece related to Thomson’s joke of a speech, and it disappeared…
(I pressed publish and the post vanished) Shit I cannot be that popular I garnish Political attention in a Government falling apart leading up to an election…
(Even If they do,I have 3 backups, time stamped….)
I have a massive document I have been compiling for what seems years.
Rest assured (I know via the current survey, You have been enthusiastic in contributing to the truth. What a wanker)
2 weeks training for those massive sighs…re the wife…(drag her in for justification…)
The facts will make my blog…Am I being interfered with? I wonder…
I have you covered…
Here is an email, where he bragged to his comrades in Parliament…About the riches of suing those who dare question him.
I have copies of thousands of your emails, sent to me by serious parliamentarians who take their position, Honestly and seriously…Not as a free for all…