Four criminal lawyers arrested and charged with numerous offences
The Crime and Corruption Commission in Queensland has arrested and laid charges against six men, comprising four lawyers and two former clients, for alleged fraud and money laundering following an 18-month major crime investigation into the activities of a Brisbane-based law firm.
The investigation, code-named Operation Stockade, culminated on Sunday morning when the CCC and Queensland Police Service officers executed search warrants at residential addresses across Brisbane of four men.
Two additional men were arrested and charged on Monday, again on alleged fraud and money laundering offences.
It will be alleged by CCC that some of the men were involved in “serious fraud offences against Legal Aid Queensland to a value of approximately $340,000 and fraud involving the failure to comply with the Legal Profession Act 2007 in relation to the requirement to deposit over $765,000 into a trust account”.
It will also be alleged that some of the men “laundered the proceeds of serious criminal offenses”.
The four lawyers and two former clients arrested and charged include: a 47-year old Tarragindi man on two counts of aggravated fraud, fraudulent falsification of records and aggravated money laundering, a 30-year-old Alderley man and 28-year-old Wynnum man, both on counts of aggravated fraud, a 30-year-old Inala man on charges of aggravated fraud and money laundering, a 31-year-old Bowen Hills man for alleged aggravated fraud in relation to the failure to deposit money into a trust account, and a 33-year-old Woodford man was issued with a Notice to Appear on charges of aggravated fraud and aggravated money laundering.
The 47-year-old and one of the 30-year-old men have been remanded in custody in anticipation of appearances before the Brisbane Magistrates Court.
The other 30-year-old, the 28-year-old and the 31-year-old men were bailed to appear before the court.
The 33-year-old issued with a Notice to Appear is expected to appear before the court on 19 November 2018.
Speaking about the arrests, CCC chairperson Alan MacSporran QC said Operation Stockdale has focused on individuals who have “allegedly facilitated and supported serious and organised crime”.
“The fact some of these allegations relate to individuals involved in the legal profession is concerning,” he said.
“Any fraud committed on Legal Aid Queensland is, in my view, a fraud on Queensland taxpayers and it has the potential to interfere with the administration of justice.”
The Queensland Law Society has responded to the arrests and charges, noting that it “stands ready” to assist CCC and will cooperate fully with the ongoing investigation.
“QLS takes matters such as this very seriously and the public deserves answers when a lawyer is charged with committing criminal acts,” said QLS president Ken Taylor.
“All four accused [lawyers] have a duty to notify QLS about the details of the charges against them and if substantiated the Society will take appropriate action as part of its regulatory responsibilities.”
It is important to remember, Mr Taylor added, that the charges at this stage remain simply allegations, and that the men are entitled to the presumption of innocence until the matter is handled by the courts.