Thursday, April 7, 2011

Standen trial hears of 'drug ring panic'

Jodie Minus and Tom Westbrook From: The Australian April 08, 2011 12:00AM

AS a $120 million shipment of drugs sat waiting to be collected at a Sydney port, things started to go badly wrong with former crime-fighter Mark Standen's alleged importation plot.

A Sydney court yesterday heard a series of frantic phone calls made by Mr Standen's co-accused, Sydney food importer Bakhos Jalalaty, to contacts in Pakistan and Holland, in a desperate bid to find "original documents" so the shipment could be released at Port Botany.

At first, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service had requested a "clearer copy" of a quarantine clearance ticket. Then the shipping agency, MISC, needed proof from its Pakistan office that the shipment had been paid for.

Until then, MISC in Sydney was refusing to release the shipment; and Mr Jalalaty was under pressure from alleged Dutch co-conspirator Henry Kinch.

"What seems to be the hold-up?" Mr Kinch asked in an email on Friday, May 2, 2008. "What are we waiting for?"

Adding to Mr Jalalaty's worries was the fact that the shipping container was due to be inspected and samples taken by quarantine officials on Monday, May 5.

In phone conversations, intercepted by the Australian Federal Police, Mr Jalalaty said he had already paid $20,000 for the shipment, but Pakistani-based Shahd Kahn was claiming he had "not received a penny" and would not provide the original documents until the money was received.

"I have received nothing . . . at the moment I need E20,000," Mr Kahn said.

Mr Jalalaty said he would pay the money "as soon as the bank opens on Monday", stressing that he needed the original documents to be at the MISC office in Pakistan by Monday morning, "or I am in big trouble here".

Exactly one month later, Mr Standen and Mr Jalalaty were arrested and charged with conspiracy to import $120m worth of pseudoephedrine to Australia, with the alleged drugs hidden in a shipping container of rice from Pakistan.

The crown alleges that Mr Standen -- the former assistant director of the NSW Crime Commission -- who had previously worked with Customs and the AFP, used his inside knowledge to advise Mr Jalalaty and Mr Kinch on the best ways to avoid detection.

But Mr Standen's counsel, Mark Ierace SC, has told a NSW Supreme Court jury his client's relationship with the pair had no "ulterior criminal purpose" and he had expected the container to hold only rice.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

'Ransom note' revealed at Standen trial

Margaret Scheikowski April 6, 2011 - 5:04PM

The drug plot trial of former crime fighter Mark Standen has been told of a "ransom note" demanding money for documents needed to release a Pakistani shipment.

"If I do not get the money quickly I can face big problem," the handwritten note said.

"So, please, take my request seriously and finish the problem as soon as possible."

Advertisement: Story continues below
Standen, 54, has pleaded not guilty to conspiring with drug trafficker James Kinch and foodstuff businessman Bakhos "Bill" Jalalaty, between 2006 and 2008, to import pseudoephedrine, used to make the drugs speed and ice.

The former assistant director of investigations for the NSW Crime Commission also has denied taking part in the supply of 300kg of the substance and conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

The plot allegedly involved importing the pseudoephedrine in a container of rice from Pakistan.

But the NSW Supreme Court jury has been told the container, which arrived in Sydney on April 26, 2008, did not actually contain the banned substance.

On Wednesday, the jury continued to listen to numerous intercepted phone calls and read emails, faxes and other documents including an arrival notice for the six-metre container holding 18,158 kilos of rice in various-sized bags.

The jury heard phone calls between Jalalaty and officials who spoke of the need for the original Bill of Lading and other documents before the container could be released.

Australian Federal Police Sergeant Paul Watt told the jury that a search of Jalalaty's office revealed a document which the businessman is recorded as describing as a "ransom note".

The jury was read a text sent by Jalalaty on April 29 to a member of the Dutch syndicate said to be involved in the plot.

"We just opened the envelope and there are no originals but a demand to pay for wat (sic), I don't know," he texted.

"What the hell is going on?"

In a later phone call between the pair, Jalalaty said he had received copies of the documents, which were not legible, as well as a "ransom letter".

He reads out the letter which says: "Hello man, I am sending the photocopy of the document because 4 the original B/L I must pay the money to these people who cleared the matter for me".

It also said: "If you need the original then your side should pay".

In the phone call, Jalalaty asks the Dutch syndicate member who would have written the letter but he replies he did not know.

"I want to kill this man, I don't know who he is," Jalalaty said.

In another call on the same day, Jalalaty is told to destroy the note and is reassured that the relevant documents are being dealt with.

The trial is continuing before Justice Bruce James.

© 2011 AAP

Additional Reading 3 pages PDF File