Police smash tax fraud Syndicate-ATO deputy commissioner Michael Cranston embroiled in $165m fraud investigation

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18/05/2017

More to follow with news a senior journo Steve Barrett being allegedly involved with a blackmail plot with a member of the conspiracy Daniel Rostankovski  who was allegedly aggrieved he was not getting his fair share…See down for more details

ATO deputy allegedly sought to seek a deal for son in $165 m tax fraud,,, Mr Cranston has been issued a future court attendance notice for the charge of abusing his position as a public official. He is due to appear in Sydney’s Central Local Court on June 13.

His son, Adam Cranston, 30, and his daughter, Lauren Anne Cranston, 24, have also been charged following an eight-month investigation, codenamed Operation Elbrus.

It’s alleged ATO deputy Michael Cranston accessed restricted information on an ATO audit for his son, but police do not believe he knew about his son’s alleged fraud syndicate.

Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Leanne Close said the syndicate appeared to use the money to fund a “lavish lifestyle”.

Among the items seized under proceeds of crime were 25 motor vehicles, including luxury cars and racing cars, 12 motorbikes, 18 residential properties, two aircraft, $1 million from a safe deposit box, firearms, jewellery, bottles of Grange wine and artworks.

ATO Second Commissioner Andrew Mills said two other ATO officers were also being investigated internally for a potential code of conduct breaches. It’s believed they tried to look up information on the ATO’s audit at the behest of Michael Cranston….Robbo

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Police will allege the group had a lavish lifestyle and diverted taxpayer funds to buy planes, sports cars, jewellery, property, artwork and fine wines.

As part of the operation, officers have seized:

  • 25 motor vehicles
  • $15 million in bank accounts
  • 18 residential properties
  • 12 motorbikes
  • Two aircraft
  • Firearms
  • Jewellery
  • Artwork
  • Vintage wines
  • $1 million in a safe deposit box

Acting AFP deputy operations commissioner Leanne Close said the ATO got involved in the investigation when alleged evidence of fraud mounted.

 


Veteran Sydney journalist Steve Barrett allegedly blackmailed tax syndicate

By Rachel Olding

A veteran Sydney journalist allegedly blackmailed members of a $165 million tax fraud syndicate after conspirators in the group had a falling out, it can be revealed.

Explosive documents tendered in Central Local Court on Thursday state that well-known television journalist and former crime reporter Steve Barrett allegedly blackmailed two members of the syndicate during a meeting at the offices of Clamenz Lawyers on February 1st 2017

Eight people were arrested on Thursday over the alleged tax fraud syndicate including Adam and Laura Cranston, the son and daughter of Australian Taxation Office Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston.

Michael Cranston has also been issued a future court attendance notice for a charge of abusing his position as a public official.

The police documents reveal that one syndicate member, Daniel Rostankovski, turned on other conspirators and allegedly tried to extort money from them.

At the February 1 meeting, Mr Rostankovski and Mr Barrett allegedly threatened to expose the conspiracy in the media if money wasn’t handed over.

“Police allege … Rostankovski and Barrett attempted to blackmail the co-conspirators in relation to their involvement in the conspiracy,” the police documents state.

Mr Rostankovski allegedly demanded $5 million or Mr Barrett would expose the group in the media.

Mr Rostankovski felt like he had been deceived by the group as other members were receiving more money than him.

The group allegedly agreed to their demands if he didn’t go to the media, the police or the ATO. An agreement was signed that outlined such undertakings, the police documents reveal.

Mr Rostankovski, a 28-year-old from Waterloo, was granted strict bail in Central Local Court on Thursday. Mr Barrett has not been charged. He did not return Fairfax Media’s calls on Thursday.

Barrett, who previously worked for 60 Minutes, was a long-time employee as a producer in the Channel 7 newsroom but left the network in March 2016, before the alleged blackmail took place.

Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Leanne Close said the syndicate appeared to use the money to fund a “lavish lifestyle”.

Among the items seized under proceeds of crime were 25 motor vehicles, including luxury cars and racing cars, 12 motorbikes, 18 residential properties, two aircraft, $1 million from a safe deposit box, firearms, jewellery, bottles of Grange wine and artworks.

ATO Second Commissioner Andrew Mills said two other ATO officers were also being investigated internally for potential code of conduct breaches. It’s believed they tried to look up information on the ATO’s audit at the behest of Michael Cranston.

The announcement came after nearly 300 police officers on Wednesday carried out raids across Sydney, Wollongong and the Southern Highlands, arresting nine people.

Among those who appeared in court on Thursday are Mr Rostankovski, 28, from Waterloo; Jason Cornell Onley, 47, from Vaucluse; Daniel Hausman, 47, from Woollahra; Christopher James Guillan, 46, from Sutherland; Dev Menon, 33, from Wahroonga and Devyn Hammon, 24, from Balgownie.

Police will allege in court that the syndicate members ran a legitimate payroll company, Plutus Payroll, and accepted money from legitimate clients to process payroll on their behalf.

“This money was transferred to seven sub-contracted companies known as Tier 2 companies, which then made payroll payments to individual workers or clients,” the federal police said in a statement.

Tax office investigators, who helped the federal police during the investigation, estimate the amount of tax obligations not paid to the tax office to be $165 million.

Mr Mills described Michael Cranston as one of the organisation’s “long-serving senior officers” who had “quite an illustrious [career] up until this point”.

Mr Mills said he was confident the tax office’s systems had not been compromised nor breached and the accused employees were not able to obtain any information.

“The investigation has so far not revealed any evidence of actual intervention or influence on audit cases, or of money being refunded, or of tax liability being changed,” Mr Mills said.

“The information I have to date shows no compromise of the operations of our administration. Our systems, controls and procedures worked effectively and we have been able to successfully isolate and protect the investigation, working well with the Australian Federal Police over many months to build a picture of what has been happening.”

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull congratulated the federal police for the investigation and “taking the action that they have”.

 

ATO Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston allegedly sought to cut deal for son Adam Cranston

By Nick McKenzie

Deputy ATO commissioner to be charged

Deputy Commissioner of the Australian Tax Office Michael Cranston allegedly sought to pressure colleagues to cut a deal with his son after learning he was the subject of a major tax fraud investigation, sources said.

Mr Cranston learnt of the investigation after his son, Adam Cranston, approached him and told his father that he believed his company was the subject of an ongoing inquiry.

Michael Cranston.Michael Cranston. Photo: Rob Homer

Michael Cranston allegedly subsequently approached a Tax Office assistant commissioner and raised the prospect that his son’s company was being targeted.

 

Michael Cranston allegedly simultaneously sought to downplay his son’s involvement in the alleged criminal scheme.

  • Two high-ranking Tax Office officials who spoke to Michael Cranston about the inquiry into his son have also been stood down, pending further investigation.
  • It is understood that Michael Cranston allegedly inquired as to whether a deal could be struck to resolve any probe.
  • The Tax Office sometimes resolves matters by agreeing to receive a payment from those accused of tax fraud.
  • Michael Cranston also allegedly sought to reach out to investigators involved in the multi-agency investigation but was unable to do so because the Australian Federal Police had warned them that such an approach might be likely.

One of nine people being arrested over a $165 million tax fraud investigation.

One of nine people being arrested over a $165 million tax fraud investigation.  Photo: AAP/Australian Federal Police

Adam Cranston was allegedly involved in the unlawful tax fraud scheme from the middle of 2016.

The scheme, which allowed the accused to make tens of millions of dollars in allegedly illegal profits, was started much earlier by another of the accused.

Police seized $1 million from a safe deposit box during Wednesday's raids.

Police seized $1 million from a safe deposit box during Wednesday’s raids. Photo: Australian Federal Police

Adam Cranston allegedly displayed unexplained wealth, including a collection of prestige cars.

But Michael Cranston is suspected to have been unaware that his son was the subject of the probe until Adam approached him.

Tax tsar’s son charged over alleged scam that netted $165 million

 

It comes after his son Adam was charged over his role in a $165 million tax scam.

The Daily Telegraph today revealed Cranston’s son, Adam was charged over his alleged role in a fraud syndicate that police claim stole more than $165 million — one of the biggest white-collar crimes in Australia’s history.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal Australian Federal Police yesterday arrested Adam Cranston at his Bondi flat in one of 27 raids on homes and businesses across Sydney.

Adam Cranston, son of ATO boss Michael Cranston, is arrested at his Bondi flat yesterday over his role a $165 million fraud syndicate. Picture: Police Media

Cranston was charged last night with conspiracy to ­defraud the commonwealth and is expected to face Central Local Court today.

It’s understood eight others were arrested and facing possible charges.

The 30-year-old Cranston is the son of ATO deputy commissioner Michael Cranston, but there is no suggestion Michael Cranston had any involvement in or ­knowledge of the criminal syndicate.

Adam Cranston on his wedding day to wife Elizabeth. There is no suggestion Elizabeth was involved in the alleged scam. Picture: Facebook

Sources close to the investigation claim Adam was a “co-conspirator” in a group that used an elaborate tax scam to fund a celebrity lifestyle that included prime Sydney real estate, boats — and even a racing car team.

“This investigation has ­uncovered high-level organised activity; it is complex (and) sophisticated,” the source last night told The Daily Telegraph.

Adam Cranston marries wife Elizabeth. There is no suggestion Elizabeth was involved in the alleged scam.

“I think it will take the police a long time to figure out exactly how much money (is involved).”

It is believed police will ­allege the fraud is one of the largest ever seen in Australia.

Investigators allege Sydney financial services firm SYNEP, of which Adam is co-chairman and managing ­director, was part of the ­operation.

ATO Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston
Adam Cranston is escorted from the scene at Bondi yesterday. Picture: Police Media.

Payroll contractor Plutus Payroll, controlled by SYNEP, was the centrepiece of the ­alleged hustle.

Police will claim it would allegedly funnel wage payments through a series of “second tier” companies. who then paid the ATO only a fraction of the required income tax.

The remaining withheld tax would then allegedly flow into the pockets of syndicate operators.

The scammers believed they had struck a sweet spot where each individual fraud was too small to prompt ­action from the ATO.

One source said it was “like saying to your schoolteacher, ‘I’ve done most of my homework, I’ll bring the rest next week’.”

The net tightened when both the AFP and ATO ­noticed alleged discrepancies in parallel investigations.

Police escort Adam Cranston from the scene yesterday. Picture: Police Media

The sum of the frauds is understood to be more than $165 million, with the extent of Cranston’s own alleged profits expected to be revealed in court.

Investigators said their probe focused on a 12-month snapshot of the group’s alleged activities.

Sources also allege the scheme had another sinister angle.

How the scam was carried out

Police will claim the syndicate would pay struggling people a regular fee so they could set up the second tier companies in their names. However, the syndicate had total control of the companies.

Plutus Payroll hit the headlines earlier this month when the ATO froze its bank ­accounts over unpaid tax debts, meaning its clients’ staff could not be paid.

Police examine a vehicle at Adam Cranston’s Bondi flat yesterday. Picture: Police Media

In a statement earlier this month, Plutus apologised to its customers “continuing ­distress caused by our inability to process your pay since 27 April”.

“Our dispute is with the Australian Taxation Office who believe that Plutus owes the ATO money,” the statement said.

“Acting in a draconian and unfair manner, the ATO froze Plutus’ bank accounts on 27 April without prior warning or any consultation.

“We received no notice of intention to audit, no complaint and no other advance warning of noncompliance from the ATO.

 

“When the ATO acted, without notice, they froze our bank accounts and we became unable to pay our contractors the money owed to them.”

On May 10, the company announced the ATO had ­allowed the release of the money.

With more than 35 years at ATO, Michael Cranston has spearheaded many public campaigns to catch tax cheats.

“I am responsible for ­increasing compliance and willing participation in our tax and super system,” one of his social media accounts states.

“I recently chaired the OECD Task Force on Tax Crimes.”

The ATO last night ­refused to comment on the­ ­investigation.

And Michael Cranston did not respond to questions put to him through the ATO.

The ATO said it “will not comment on ongoing investigations at this time”.

“Due to privacy considerations the ATO is unable to comment on individual ­employees,” it said.

A CASE OF LIVE FAST AND FRY YOUNG

POLICE claim assets linked to an alleged $165 million tax fraud case include sports cars, expensive properties, boats and even a race team.

Cars were a particular passion for one of the alleged “co-conspirators” of the crime. Adam Cranston loved them so much there’s even a wedding day photo of the now 30-year-old with his wife and a slick race car.

There is no suggestion Cranston’s wife had any knowledge of or involvement in the alleged fraud.

A source said that among the property seized by police is an orange and blue Ford GT in Cranston’s ­possession.

Cranston started a race car team last year. And he named it after the ­financial services firm now at the centre of the alleged crime, SYNEP. The team competed in the Australian Prototype Series and in February celebrated a podium finish at Mount Panorama.


ATO official Michael Cranston facing charges over son’s alleged 65m fraud – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

ATO official Michael Cranston facing charges over son’s alleged $165m fraud

18/03/17 Updated 8 minutes ago

One of Australia’s most senior tax officials has been embroiled in a major fraud investigation following the arrest of his son, which allegedly involved $165 million being stolen from the Commonwealth.

Deputy tax commissioner Michael Cranston has been issued with a court attendance notice, while his son, Adam Cranston, was arrested in Sydney yesterday as part of an Australian Federal Police sting.

Michael Cranston will be charged with abusing his position as a public official relating to the fraud, although he is not believed to be a conspirator.

Adam Cranston, 30, was arrested at his flat in the affluent beach suburb of Bondi during raids yesterday and has been charged with conspiracy to defraud the Commonwealth.

At a press conference in Sydney today, officials said Michael Cranston could have been unwittingly involved in his son’s alleged crimes.

In all, nine people were arrested in Sydney yesterday as the AFP carried out 28 raids.

At a press conference today, the AFP alleged the group used “lavish lifestyles” to help hide the funds, including 25 motor vehicles, $15 million in cash, 18 residential properties and two aircraft.

Adam Cranston will face Central Local Court in Sydney later today.

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison said the arrests served as a warning.

“This is a major government crackdown and what the events today with this major fraud bust … demonstrates is that if you are a crook and you are seeking to defraud the taxpayer, we will find you,” he said.

“We will track you down. We will make sure you are brought to justice.”

The ABC understands Michael Cranston has been employed by the ATO for more than three decades and is involved in the organisation’s private groups and high wealth segment.

Part of his biography on his LinkedIn account reads: “My personal philosophy is that the tax system belongs to all Australians and we all need to work closely together to ensure that it is administered fairly, efficiently and causes the least pain for all that participate.”

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The ICAC is investigating corruption allegations concerning Emman Sharobeem for rorting hundreds of thousands of dollars on herself

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The ICAC is investigating corruption allegations concerning Emman Sharobeem, the former CEO of the Immigrant Women’s Health Service(IWHS) and the Non-English Speaking Housing Women’s Scheme Inc (NESH).

The allegations include that Ms Sharobeem dishonestly exercised her official functions as IWHS CEO by: between 1 July 2009 and 17 February 2016, submitting invoices for reimbursement for goods and services to which she was not entitled and using an IWHS credit card to pay for personal expenses; between 2014 and 2015 submitting, and authorising payment by IWHS of, false invoices for facilitation fees and other services to herself and other persons to which they were not entitled; between 2011 and 2015, submitting, and authorising payment of, invoices by the IWHS for the renovation of her property in Fairfield; and between 2012 and 2014, falsifying IWHS statistics to NSW Health.

Ms Sharobeem is also alleged to have dishonestly exercised her official functions between 2006 and 2016 by claiming to be a psychologist holding two PhD degrees and a masters degree, and further using those qualifications to treat IWHS clients and gain promotion to the position of CEO of the IWHS and the NESH. As NESH CEO, Ms Sharobeem is alleged to have dishonestly exercised her official functions between 17 December 2013 and 23 November 2015 by authorising payments from NESH to be made to her own account, to which she was not entitled.

Between March 2011 and November 2016, Ms Sharobeem is also alleged to have fraudulently obtained and retained appointment as a Board member of the Community Relations Commission (now Multicultural NSW) and the Anti-Discrimination Board (now part of the Department of Justice) by using false academic qualifications.

The IWHS was a not-for-profit non-government organisation (NGO) women’s health service, primarily funded by NSW Health via South West Sydney Local Health District, while the NESH  was a not-for-profit NGO contracted and funded by the Department of Family and Community Services to provide affordable housing to women and children. In her capacity as CEO, Ms Sharobeem was a public official for the purposes of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988.

What so obvious (Did you see her on the news grabs last night going into ICAC)

Looked a different woman. Facelifts, liposuction, new teeth, body shaping, tens of thousands on designer handbags etc.

Can we see where this is going? She thought she was as entitled as some of the biggest over the top diva women in the poor countries who DESERVE all this material bullshit way pretending to stand up the poor and vulnerable women.

How disgusted must they be when to let’s say they asked her for help with a bill or their hair falling out from stress.

IT was a BIG NO.

While she got new teeth, got lipo, got skinny, wore the best, dined and the best. Even sold the property of the agency and kept around $600,000 profit to herself.

Flew all over the world, wearing clothes way beyond her means. I just want to be sick at the gall of this bitch. Regards Robbo

‘Why are you torturing me?’ Eman Sharobeem lashes out over ICAC psychology claim

Michael Evans

  • Michael Evans

Former Australian of the Year finalist Eman Sharobeem has lashed out at a public inquiry into claims she illegally practiced as a psychologist, saying she was being “tortured”.

Under heavy questioning from counsel assisting the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Ramesh Rajalingam, about client booking lists for the Immigrant Women’s Health Service, Ms Sharobeem insisted she did not treat anyone.

She was shown video of an appearance on SBS television program Insight and played audio from two ABC Radio National programs in which she claimed to be a psychologist. 

The commission has also been shown patient referrals from doctors and religious figures who sent people to her for treatment.

“You told people you were a psychologist?”

“No.”

“Do you accept a lot of people knew you as a psychologist?”

“How can I treat them if I’m not a psychologist? When I say in the media I’m a psychologist that’s shorthand for the honorary doctorate I received,” Ms Sharobeem said.

 

 

“Why are you torturing me to that extent? Sir, I did not treat anyone.”

Ms. Sharobeem also lashed out over questions concerning the execution of a search warrant at her home.

“I was invaded. You took everything I had,” she said.

The ICAC has alleged that Ms. Sharobeem holds no qualifications to practice as a psychologist despite her claims to hold a Ph.D. in psychology.

Ms. Sharobeem has given evidence she was given an honorary doctorate by the American University in Cairo but that evidence of it was burnt in a fire during the Arab Spring of 2012. 

She has denied she ever practiced as a psychologist. She has accepted she never completed psychology studies.

Ms. Sharobeem later apologized for her outburst, saying: “My apology for being heated.”


 

Sydney crime figure Pasquale Barbaro shot dead, Joe Antoun’s death caught on video


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Nine people have been charged following the bloody execution of crime figure Pasquale Barbaro, after a series of police raids in Sydney.

Tuesday’s co-ordinated sting unfolded just after midday when heavily armed officers raided more than a dozen properties including four at Sydney’s Olympic Park.

A total of 13 search warrants were executed and nine men aged from 18-29 were charged.

“All those charged with substantive murder were charged in relation to Pasquale Barbaro,” Assistant Commissioner Mark Jenkins told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

Barbaro was left for dead on a Sydney pavement. Image: Instagram
Nine people have now been charged over the 35-year-old’s death. Image: 7 News
Photo: NSW Police

Barbaro, 35, was shot dead on an Earlwood footpath two weeks ago.

Four of the nine men are facing murder charges and will appear in Sydney courts on Wednesday.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione launched Strike Force Osprey less than two weeks ago after a spate of bloody executions of notorious crime figures on Sydney’s streets.

“There is no end game. We will continue to target these individuals through methodical investigations and disruption strategies. There will be ongoing arrests. We will be protecting the State of NSW. We will be not tolerating any individual who has a total disregard for the community of this state and its laws,” Acting Deputy Commissioner Frank Mennilli said on Wednesday.

The other five men are facing criminal group charges and have court dates for December and January.

Photo: NSW Police
Photo: NSW Police
Photo: NSW Police

Officers from Strike Force Osprey worked with officers from Strike Force Raptor, which was set up in November last year investigating the activities of the Burwood Chapter of the Rebels Outlaw Motorcycle Gang.

Both forces were involved in Tuesday’s raids.

During the raid more than 40 mobile phones, 11 cars, a safe, cash, stolen NSW Police ID was seized and will now be examined by specialist forensic accountants from the Fraud and Cybercrime Squad.

Police from Strike Force Raptor also seized 20 long arms, 23 hand guns, 15 prohibited weapons, including ballistic vests and masks, silencers, a stun gun, and a homemade pipe gun; ammunition, methylamphetamine, and ecstasy, police said on Wednesday.

With eight shooting deaths over the past 17 months in Sydney, police have vowed to stamp out gangland warfare.

Just weeks before Mafia figure Barbaro was shot in Earlwood as he was getting into his Mercedes on November 14, hitman Hamad Assaad, 29, was shot in Georges Hall on October 25.

Pasquale Barbaro pictured with Brothers for Life leader Farhad Qaumi. Source: 7 News
The shooting scene. Source: 7 News

In April, gangland kingpin and convicted killer Walid Ahmad, 40, was killed in a spray of bullets on the rooftop car park of Bankstown Central shopping centre.

His murder is believed to be in retaliation for the fatal shooting of Safwan Charbaji outside a Condell Park panel beater several weeks earlier.

The month before that Michael Davey was shot dead in a driveway in a drive-by shooting in Kingswood. Believed to be a member of the Rebels motorcycle gang, Davey had escaped injury during a shooting at a shopping centre the previous year.

Police hunt for gangland killer

Police forensice teams establish a crime scene after Pasquale Barbar (inset) was killed. Picture: Bill Hearne.

Police forensics teams establish a crime scene after Pasquale Barbar (inset) was killed. Picture: Bill Hearne.

Police from the NSW Public Order and Riot squad arrive at the scene this morning. Picture: AAP

Police from the NSW Public Order and Riot squad arrive at the scene this morning. Picture: AAP

The crime scene in Earlwood. Picture: Bill Hearne.

The crime scene in Earlwood. Picture: Bill Hearne.

Pasquale Barbaro.

Pasquale Barbaro.


Who was Pasquale Barbaro?

Updated about 7 hours ago

Pasquale Timothy Barbaro was a notorious Sydney crime figure and part of a family with known links to the Calabrian mafia, from Italy.

The 35-year-old’s murder last night at Earlwood in Sydney’s inner west was one of several targeted shootings in Sydney this year.

The Barbaro family is well known to police and the criminal underworld.

His grandfather, who was also named Pasquale Barbaro, was murdered in a gangland hit in Brisbane in 1990 after turning police informant.

A cousin — another Pasquale Barbaro — was murdered in a hit in Melbourne in 2003 alongside notorious crime figure Jason Moran.

His uncle, yet another Pasquale Barbaro, is currently serving a 30-year sentence over a massive ecstasy bust — the world’s biggest — discovered in Melbourne in 2007.

Pasquale Timothy Barbaro — killed last night in Earlwood — survived a targeted shooting in Leichhardt in November last year.

Why was he targeted?

There are a number of theories.

Pasquale Timothy Barbaro was due to face the Sydney District Court in December over the production of the drug ice (crystal methamphetamine).

Crime journalist Keith Moor says there are suspicions Mr Barbaro may have been a police informant.

“The suspicion is he was probably killed for breaking the code of ‘omerta’ which is the code of silence,” Mr Moor said.

“The suggestion I’m getting is the dead Pasquale Barbaro was telling tales about the operations of the Calabrian mafia — as was his grandfather way back in the 1990’s.”

Equally, Mr Moor said the killing could be because of something unrelated to gang crime.

“He was involved in a number of criminal offences [including] drugs,” Mr Moor said.

“He’s obviously made some enemies [and there have been] attempts on his life in the past.

“It could boil down to something as simple as a domestic — there have been a number of Calabrian crime figures murdered because they’ve left their wives or slept with the wrong person,” he said.

One thing is clear according to NSW Police Superintendent David Johnson: Mr Barbaro was “clearly the intended victim” of last night’s Earlwood shooting.

Links to other shootings

There was a failed hit on Pasquale Timothy Barbaro‘s life in November last year.

Hamad Assaad, who was shot dead at his Georges Hall home just two weeks ago, was one of the major suspects in that attempted hit.

The Assaad shooting on October 25 has links to another targeted shooting in Bankstown in May.

Superintendent David Johnson said at a press conference today that police can’t comment on whether the murders are related.

“I can’t comment on the homicide investigations or strike forces as they are set up,” Mr Johnson said.

“I can’t say whether these matters are related because I don’t know the answer to that.”

The Calabrian Mafia in Australia

Crime journalist Keith Moor said the Barbaro family’s crime history stretches back decades in Australia.

“They’re going back way before the 1977 murder of Donald Mackay in Griffith,” Mr Moor said.

“The dead Barbaro from Sydney overnight… was literally born into the Calabrian mafia.

“It’s a trait that’s passed on from father to son,” he said.

Mr Moor said the Calabrian mafia is more active than people might realise in Australia.

“If anyone smoked a joint in the 60s, 70s, 80s — and lets face it a lot of people did — they were lining the pockets of the Calabrian mafia,” he said.

“They gradually got into the heroin trade… then they expanded to ecstasy.

“They basically recognised what the next big thing was in the drug market.”


Police found the man, 35-year-old Pasquale Barbaro, on an Earlwood footpath after being alerted to a shooting at about 9.40pm on Monday.

And a grey Audi Q7 found burned out in Sydney’s inner west could be the getaway car used in the execution-style shooting of a man linked to Sydney’s criminal underworld, say police.

Execution of standover man filmed

Meanwhile, the front door execution in 2013 of standover man Joe Antoun, a known associate of underworld figure George Alex, was captured on CCTV and played for a Sydney courtroom today – hours after Pasquale Barbaro was gunned down outside Alex’s home.

Mr Antoun was gunned down on the doorstep of his Strathfield home in Sydney’s inner west on December 16, 2013, in a contract killing allegedly arranged by Brothers 4 Life boss Farhad Quami and his brother Mumtaz.

Farhad, 34, and Mumtaz Quami, 31, have pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Antoun, who worked as a debt collector.

In their trial, CCTV footage was played showing a hooded figure waiting for several minutes before pulling out a handgun and firing several times.

The Daily Telegraph reported Crown Prosecutor Ken McKay SC told their NSW Supreme Court trial before a judge alone Antoun was at home with his wife when a camera showed a man at their front door.

“(Mr Antoun’s wife) went to a window and looked out and saw a person and called out to that person, asking who it was. The person she heard say, ‘It’s Adam. I’ve got a package for Joe’,” Mr McKay said.

“At about this time, Joseph Antoun opened the front door. There was a wire security door which was still closed. As he opened the door, Mr Antoun was shot a number of times and died in his house, it seems very quickly after being.”

The court heard, according to The Daily Telegraph, that before Antoun’s death his former business partner Elias “Les” Elias had agreed to purchase Mimtaz Qaumi’s Erina Kebab House for $190,000.

Mr Elias is in the Philippines, according to a police witness, and declined to provide a statement for the trial.

The confronting CCTV footage was shown hours after Barbaro’s execution this morning outside Mr Alex’s Earlwood home.

CCTV of Joe Antoun shot at his Strathfield home

Police investigation

NSW Police believe it could be linked to the killing of Mr Barbaro. “That vehicle has been towed for forensic examination,” Superintendent David Johnson told reporters.

Supt Johsonn said the victim, who had been visiting someone in the street, had been “shot a number of times”.

Police are now appealing for witnesses to come forward so homicide investigators can piece together a chain of events that includes the Audi. Supt Johnson acknowledges some of the victim’s associates might not be keen to contact police.

“Given the sort of nefarious activities these people are engaged in, clearly it is in their best interests to come forward and speak to police,” he added. “These people [the shooters] are dangerous people.”

‘Targeted attack’

Early investigations suggest it was a targeted attack and Larkhall Street was cordoned off today as forensic teams examined the area.

Barbaro’s grandfather and cousin were both killed in gangland hits and there had been unconfirmed rumours Pasquale Barbaro was an informant for the NSW Crime Commission.

Pasquale Barbaro’s grandfather Peter Pasquale Barbaro and his coulsin Pat Barbaro

Pasquale Barbaro’s grandfather Peter Pasquale Barbaro and his cousin Pat Barbaro

Gabriela Pintos lives at the end of street and said she heard gunshots late at night.

“We heard the gunshots … another maybe four gunshots and a couple of minutes later there was someone screaming,” she told AAP.

Another resident told AAP he heard as a many as seven really loud bangs in two bursts and saw a car speed away.

“You knew straight away what it was … I looked out the front and saw a car speed off,” the man, who wanted to be identified as John, said. Witnesses also reported seeing a car with three or four men wearing hoodies parked nearby ahead of the shooting.

He ‘may have broken the mafia code’

Barbaro may have been gunned down in Sydney because he was talking to the authorities, according to a journalist who’s written a book on the Barbaro family.

Journalist Keith Moor says the latest Pasquale Barbaro to die might have been killed for the same reason his grandfather was – he may have been “telling tales outside of school and breaking the code”.

“There could be other motives but that is a line of inquiry the homicide squad in Sydney will be pursuing,” the author of Busted told ABC TV.

Moor believes Monday night’s shooting could be difficult to solve because traditionally the Calabrian mafia are reluctant to talk to authorities. “I’m presuming that none of the Barbaro family will be willing to help police,” he said.

“They’ll probably do their own investigation into what happened.” The journalist said the problem for police trying to crack down on the Barbaros was that, as soon as one was knocked down, another seemed to pop up. “That’s been going on for generations,” he said.

Asaad shooting

The death comes two weeks after another crime figure, Hamad Assaad, was shot dead outside his Georges Hall home.

Mr Assaad was a key suspect in the execution of standover man Walid Ahmad at a Bankstown shopping centre in April.

Infamous underworld figure Jason Moran and Past Barbaro were gunned down in Essendon in 2003.

Infamous underworld figure Jason Moran and Past Barbaro were gunned down in Essendon in 2003.

That killing was thought to be in retaliation for the shooting homicide of Safwan Charbaji outside a nearby panel beater two weeks earlier. Pasquale Barbaro’s grandfather Peter Pasquale Barbaro was gunned down in Brisbane in 1990 while his cousin Pat Barbaro was shot dead in a car park in Melbourne in 2003.

The Pasquale Barbaro sentenced in 2012 jail over the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

The Pasquale Barbaro sentenced in 2012 jail over the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

Another cousin, also called Pasquale, was involved in what was described as the world’s biggest ecstasy bust.

Some 15 million pills were hidden inside tinned tomatoes and shipped by the Calabrian mafia from Italy to Melbourne.

– With AAP


Online dating site victim conned out of $127k, Robyn Clare Pearce jailed for 14 months-Has form


Robyn Clare Pearce jailed for 14 months-Has form so why a shitty short sentence.What about repayment, no remorse she will get out after learning a few more scams in jail to get out there and  rip them off for more money more often. Get real

Sandford woman Robyn Clare Pearce walks from the Hobart Magistrate's Court.

Sandford woman Robyn Clare Pearce walks from the Hobart Magistrate’s Court.

Online dating site victim conned out of $127k, Hobart woman jailed for 14 months

A Hobart woman had been jailed for 14 months for conning $127,000 out of a New South Wales man she met through an online dating site.

Robyn Clare Pearce, 62 of Sandford, pleaded guilty to dishonestly acquiring a financial advantage.

Pearce met the 60-year-old retired public servant online in August 2007 and by October that year was spinning elaborate lies to get him to lend her money.

He did so on 122 occasions, lending a total of $127,000.

She gave him several reasons for needing money, including legal fees incurred pursuing her ex-husband for child maintenance, furnishing a flat and buying a car for her daughter and paying for her elderly mother’s medical treatment.

In truth, Pearce spent the money on gambling.

The court heard Pearce put $2 million through poker machines at Wrest Point Casino between July 2007 and December 2010.

By November 2008, her victim was selling assets to fund the loans to her.

Victim sold home after mortgage default threat

He extended his mortgage but the retiree was unable to keep up with the payments.

When his bank threatened to default on the mortgage, he sold his house and moved into a modest home in rural Victoria.

The court heard Pearce repeatedly promised she would move there to join him and would get a job to pay him back.

But Pearce’s physical and mental health meant she knew at the time she was making promises that she would never be able to keep.

Justice Helen Wood accepted that Pearce did not befriend the man with the intent to defraud him.

“I accept that the relationship the defendant had with the complainant was a friendship and she valued that,” Justice Wood said.

“She did not set out to prey on him.” I say absolute bullshit to that

History of similar offences

But Justice Wood said Pearce had taken advantage of her victim’s kind and generous nature and spun him elaborate lies repeatedly in order to convince him to lend her money.

Pearce had originally also been charged with defrauding a 92-year-old American man she met through a Christian dating site of about $122,000 between 2011 and 2015.

But that charge was dropped after her plea of guilty in the current case.

In 2012, she was jailed for convincing a Queensland man she met through a dating site to part with almost $80,000.

The court heard Pearce had previously also received suspended, or partly suspended sentences, for other dishonesty matters.

She was sentenced to 14 months’ jail for the latest offending, with Justice Wood noting Pearce’s anxiety and agoraphobia, and her poor physical health, would make the sentence more burdensome for her.

Pearce will not be eligible for parole until she has served seven months.


Online love fraudster Robyn Clare Pearce behind bars after fleecing lonely NSW man of $127,000

A GAMBLING-addicted Sandford woman has been jailed for defrauding a lonely pensioner of more than $120,000 in an online love scam.

Robyn Clare Pearce, 62, pleaded guilty to dishonestly obtaining a financial benefit by deception.

In the Supreme Court in Hobart this morning, Justice Helen Wood said Pearce met a 60-year-old New South Wales man through an internet dating site in August 2007.

Although the pair never met, they exchanged messages and Pearce asked the man for money to pay bills.

After he transferred $1500 to her account, she continued to make demands every few days for money for medical care, to buy a vehicle or furniture and to pay debts.

When he tried to refuse her demands, Pearce became insistent. In all she received $127,000 from the man.

A lonely NSW man targeted in an online dating scam was relieved of $127,000 by a Tasmanian woman, who has been jailed for fraud.

Justice Wood said as a result of Pearce’s actions, the man had been forced to sell his home and move to a more modest abode in rural Victoria — holding out hope that she would move to be with him.

He had been left in financial trouble, depressed and socially isolated by her actions and had trouble trusting people, the court heard.

Pearce had lost $200,000 after putting $2 million though the poker machines at Wrest Point Casino, Justice Wood said.

The judge noted Pearce has a long history of fraud offending and had breached three suspended sentenced by her actions.

She said the offending has taken advantage of the victim’s kind and generous nature and Pearce’s moral culpability was high, despite a number of mental and physical problems which made prison a tough environment for her.

She sentenced Pearce to 14 months in prison, with a seven month non-parole period.

Pearce was also accused of stealing $122,000 from a 91-year-old American man she met via a Christian dating website but those charges were discontinued by the Crown.


Sandford woman Robyn Clare Pearce pleads not guilty in Hobart court to alleged online dating fraud

A SANDFORD woman has pleaded not guilty to fraud offences relating to an alleged internet dating scam.

Robyn Clare Pearce, 61, appeared in the Hobart Magistrates Court this morning.

She is charged with dishonestly acquiring a financial advantage.

Police allege Ms Pearce defrauded tens of thousands of dollars from a 64-year-old New South Wales man between April 2011 and January this year.

Magistrate Simon Cooper granted Ms Pearce bail and ordered her to appear in the Supreme Court on June 9.


Woman admits internet ‘love fraud’

Updated 16 Oct 2012, 10:40am

Sandford woman Robyn Clare Pearce walks from the Hobart Magistrate's Court

Sandford woman Robyn Clare Pearce walks from the Hobart Magistrate’s Court

A Hobart court has ordered a woman to seek counselling after she convinced a Queensland man to give her nearly $80,000 over the internet.

Robyn Clare Pearce from Sandford in southern Tasmania admitted dishonestly acquiring money from a Queensland man she met through an internet dating site in 2007.

During a three-year phone and email relationship, Peace convinced the man to lend her nearly $80,000.

The Hobart Magistrates Court heard she made up a variety of reasons for borrowing the money but never paid it back.

She also got the man to falsely email that she had repaid some of the money.

Pearce was sentenced to 10 months’ jail for dishonestly acquiring a financial advantage relating to $22,600.

Eight months of her sentence was suspended, provided Peace is of good behaviour and undergoes psychological treatment.

She also has to pay back the money.


 

Former WA minister Gordon Hill defrauded Firepower investors of $3.4m


Former WA minister Gordon Hill defrauded Firepower investors of $3.4m, court finds

10.32pm 21/04/16

A former West Australian police minister defrauded about 80 investors of $3.4 million, which was meant to be spent on shares in the failed fuel technology company Firepower, the WA Supreme Court has found.

Gordon Leslie Hill, 65, a former Firepower director and minister in the Burke, Dowding and Lawrence State Labor governments, was ordered by Justice Andrew Beech earlier this month to repay the group of investors.

The civil action against Hill, 65, is the group’s first small victory in their long-running bid to recoup the money they paid for shares which they never received.

They are among many investors who lost money in the company, which claimed to have developed a magic petrol pill that improved fuel economy and reduced emissions from motor vehicles.

Firepower collapsed in 2007, taking $100 million in investors’ money.

The group of investors made deposits ranging from $2,000 to $200,000 between December 2004 and June 2005 into a trust used by Hill, who was then working as a solicitor, to buy shares in a Firepower company registered in the Cayman Islands.

But they never received their shares because Hill transferred their funds into companies that benefited himself as well as Firepower boss Tim Johnston, who had requested the money.

This included payments to companies called Green Triton, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, and Operations Firepower, which was registered in WA.

Hill ‘recklessly indifferent to obligations’: judge

Justice Beech said an email from Hill to Mr Johnston showed that he “was acutely conscious” he was not supposed to use the money in the trust, and “deliberately turned a blind eye to the obligations that he knew he had as a trustee”.

“It is a real problem for me sending funds from the Trust account in this way … Legally the money is not meant to be used until the shares are issued,” the March 2005 email said.

Hill denied he acted fraudulently, with his lawyer arguing he intended for investors to receive shares in a different Firepower company, registered in the British Virgin Islands.

But Justice Beech disagreed, saying “at best Hill was recklessly indifferent to his obligations”.

“He consciously put those obligations to one side when complying with Mr Johnston’s instructions and making the Trust Payments, thereby benefiting some or all of Green Triton, Operations Firepower, Mr Johnston and himself,” Justice Beech said.

The legal bid by the investors’ group first started two years after the company collapsed, but was interrupted by other legal battles as well as Hill going into bankruptcy between 2010 and 2013.

Investors seek to recoup money

The group’s lawyer, Stephen Penrose, said the next step would involve a means inquiry to determine how Hill would pay the investors.

If he cannot pay, they will look to recoup money from the Legal Contribution Trust, a fund established to compensate clients of solicitors who misappropriate trust funds.

Mr Penrose said the investors – as well as another group owed $1 million by Mr Hill but who were not part of the Supreme Court action – needed Hill to be found to have acted fraudulently to apply to the fund.

But he was not confident they would receive the full amount of money they were owed, including interest.

While some of the investors were wealthy, many were just average people.

“They are just normal people, mums and dads. That’s the shame – they were normal people who put in money,” he said.

Hill’s lawyer has been contacted for comment.

Topics: courts-and-trials, fraud-and-corporate-crime, perth-6000, wa, cayman-islands, virgin-islands-british


 Firepower founder will not face charges over company collapse

Updated 26 Sep 2014, 4:52pm

The corporate regulator has announced there will be no further penalties against executives from the collapsed fuel additives business Firepower.

It is six years since Firepower collapsed, leaving investors who had poured $100 million into the company with nothing to show for it.

The business had spent liberally on sporting sponsorships and celebrity connections to promote its fuel additives, which were subsequently discredited.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) was successful three years ago in banning Firepower chairman Tim Johnston from managing another company for 20 years, while another executive was banned for six years.

The regulator says it has now finalised its investigation into possible criminal charges.

ASIC says the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions has reviewed its brief of evidence and decided there is not a reasonable prospect of securing a conviction against Mr Johnston or anyone else linked to the company.


Lack of money ends Firepower investigation

Updated 21 May 2012, 9:48am

Firepower’s liquidator believes the former head of the fuel technology company, Tim Johnston, could have stashed millions of dollars offshore.

The liquidator Bryan Hughes has also confirmed that an investigation into the collapsed company is closed because investigators can no longer afford to bankroll it.

He says creditors are unwilling to put more money into it.

Firepower collapsed in 2008 with debts of at least $100 million owed to more than 1200 investors.

Mr Johnston was declared bankrupt last year.

Mr Hughes says trying to find out exactly where the money is, is not worth the cost of continuing.

“I believe there is some money offshore, we can prove it in a commercial sense,” he said.

“It’s very difficult to prove it to the requirements required by law to substantiate it but the trouble is we can track it so far.”

Worrell is the forensic accountancy firm that was doing the investigating but Mr Hughes says they cannot continue doing so any longer.

“They have no further funds,” he Mr said.

“They’ve approached all creditors, including myself, as to whether we have any funds to contribute to their investigations into his [Mr Johnston’s] bankruptcy and his personal estate.

“We don’t and obviously other creditors are disinclined to contribute funds.”

Mr Hughes says this effectively ends the chances of private investors recouping money from Mr Johnston.

“It’s in third parties, it’s in offshore jurisdictions, it’s in other companies,” he said.

“And, until somebody can find exactly where it all is and how that sheets home to Mr Johnston, it wouldn’t be worth the cost of doing it.”

Mr Hughes says the difficulty of investigating the collapsed company highlights flaws in Australia’s business framework


ASIC bans Firepower boss for 20 years

Updated 21 Jul 2011, 5:10pm

The Federal Court in Perth has banned the founder of the discredited fuel pill technology company Firepower from managing companies for 20 years.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) brought action against former Firepower chairman Tim Johnston after the company collapsed in 2008, leaving investors more than $100 million out of pocket.

Justice John Gilmour said Mr Johnston should be excluded for a very long period of time from having access to or control over shareholders’ investments.

He said it was the kind of conduct which diminishes investor and public confidence in the commercial markets.

Mr Johnston’s investment manager Quentin Ward has been banned from managing a company for six years.

Mr Johnston did not turn up in court today to hear the decision


 

Former top Vic Lib Damien Mantach charged over $1.5m taken from party


 Updated 18/11/15 2.30pm

Not the first time either…. he had a go at making some extra bucks in the apple isle of Tassie too a while back and was moved on…mmm just like those priests who have rumours made about them tongue in cheek)

Former Victorian Liberal Party state director Damien Mantach.

Former Victorian Liberal Party state director Damien Mantach.

Former Victorian Liberal Party state director Damien Mantach has been charged with 44 counts of obtaining financial advantage totalling about $1.5 million.

In August, Mantach was accused of embezzling election campaign funds, with the money alleged to have vanished over four years to fund his lifestyle.

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

Victoria Police fraud and extortion squad were called in to investigate.

Police said a 42-year-old man from Ocean Grove is to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court this afternoon.


Victoria Police investigate Liberal Party state director over embezzlement claims worth $1.5m

Updated 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.


 

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


A matter of trust…

05/11/2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Millions remain unaccounted for due to poor record keeping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase of cars for teens triggered ‘distrust’

Not all of the community were benefiting from the largesse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Government stepped in and a statutory manager was appointed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Auditors under the microscope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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