Showing posts with label fraud. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fraud. Show all posts

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

One of the reasons why local government, traditional owners and communities in the Clarence Valley should be very wary of home-grown and foreign lobbyists, investment consortiums and land developers

On 15 August 2016 four representatives of United Land Councils Ltd & United First Peoples Syndications Pty Ltd gave evidence before the NSW Legislative Council General Purpose Standing Committee No. 6 INQUIRY INTO CROWN LAND.

One of the projects put forward to the Inquiry by those representatives was the industrialisation of the Clarence River estuary by way of construction of a mega freight port.

The following tale involves a number of persons or firms associated with the aforementioned  companies and this mega port & rail project, including Nick Petroulias aka Michael Felson aka Nick Peterson.

The Newcastle Herald, 21 October 2017:

HE WAS brash and brilliant. A young lawyer from Melbourne who became a rising star of the public service, hand-picked to serve as assistant tax commissioner by the age of 30.

That was until a spectacular fall from grace left Nick Petroulias jailed for using his plum position to do the very thing he was tasked with stamping out: defrauding the tax office.

Since his release from prison in 2010, Mr Petroulias has kept a low profile, going by a number of aliases including Michael Felson and Nick Petersen.

He described himself as a “disabled pensioner” on bankruptcy forms in 2015, with his debts estimated at an eye-watering $104 million.

But Fairfax Media can reveal that he has been accused of working behind the scenes to dupe a wealthy Chinese property developer into the illegal purchase of $12.6 million of Aboriginal land across Newcastle.

The matter is the subject of a Supreme Court legal battle that veteran lawyers have described as one of the most extraordinary cases they have seen in their careers.

Labelled by a lawyer familiar with the case as a real-life version of “Alice in Wonderland”, its cast of characters includes an international fugitive known as Robbie Rocket, a convicted drug dealer and a dead company director who somehow continued signing agreements a year after he was cremated in a Sydney cemetery.

The existence of an international money laundering syndicate and a karaoke junket intended as a bribery attempt are among the other sensational allegations contained within thousands of pages of evidence that have been tendered to the court.

Collectively, the lands were valued at $12.6 million.

Two Awabakal board members met with Mr Zong. At the negotiating table, they introduced him to Mr Petroulias – an agent for the parties involved – and Knightsbridge North Lawyers, a firm enlisted to broker the deal.

The only catch, Mr Zong was informed, was that the portfolio of land had already been sold to another buyer a year beforehand.

But he was assured that in return for a payment, that purchaser would remove themself from the picture.

By the end of the year, things appeared to be proceeding smoothly. 

Mr Zong had signed sales contracts, begun pursuing the land’s rezoning and outlaid nearly a million dollars – money he believed was a combination of a deposit and a payout for the former buyer.

But then came a shock announcement that threatened to derail the transaction: the state government had launched an investigation into the land council.

The investigation followed complaints about the land council’s governance and finances.

But Mr Zong alleges he was reassured the deal was still on a steady footing. He claims to have been told by Mr Petroulias that “there was no reason arising from the investigation that would compromise the validity of the transaction documents”. 

However, damning findings from the government’s investigator resulted in the land council being placed into administration. Then, the confirmation came: the sale was off.

Mr Zong ordered the immediate repayment of his $1 million, but his demands were refused. His property development companies – Sunshine Property Investment Group and Sunshine Warners Bay –  launched a civil claim for damages and to recoup the losses.

Caught in the legal crossfire was the land council, its law firm Knightsbridge, and the land’s original buyer, a mysterious company registered under the name Gows Heat.

Since it was placed into administration last year, the Awabakal land council has been under the control of Terry Lawler, a prominent Newcastle financier and philanthropist awarded an OAM in January.

Mr Lawler has recruited a high-powered legal team – including top silk Jeremy Kirk SC – to defend the land council and launch a cross-claim.

They have argued that the sales contracts Mr Zong signed were bogus and none of the proceeds found their way into the land council’s coffers.

Read the full article here.

The Newcastle Herald, 15 December 2017:

A wealthy Chinese developer appears set to withdraw a lawsuit against the Awabakal Aboriginal Local Land Council. 

Tony Zong and his Sunshine Property Investment Group had alleged they were conned into a deal to purchase $12.6 million of Aboriginal land across the city.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court heard the matter – involving disgraced former assistant tax commissioner Nick Petroulias – was “painfully close” to being resolved. 

It’s understood Awabakal lawyers want the land council’s costs covered as part of the settlement. 

“There doesn’t seem to be terribly much at issue in the Sunshine matter now except for the terms of discontinuance,” Justice Darke said. 

A separate action against Awabakal is also making its way through the courts. 

Knightsbridge North Lawyers has placed a caveat over the old Newcastle Post Office while it pursues the land council for $26,743 in alleged unpaid fees. 

Justice Darke indicated mediation could occur if the matter remained unresolved when the case returns to court in February. 

Monday, 11 December 2017

Adani Group still cannot find financial backers for Galilee Basin mega coal mine

Indian multinational, the family-owned Adani Group, appears to have financed its Queensland mining venture with debt.

The book value of Adani Enterprises' Carmichael mine project was just under US$2.3bn by mid-2017. While latest report shows its debt has risen by almost US$400m to US$3.83bn.

This debt is further complicated by fraud allegations and investigations by the Indian Government.

The Guardian, 7 December 2017:

Adani’s operations in Australia appear to be hanging on by a thread, as activists prove effective at undermining the company’s chances of getting the finance it needs.

China seems to have ruled out funding for the mine, which means it’s not just Adani’s proposed Carmichael coalmine that is under threat, but also its existing Abbot Point coal terminal, which sits near Bowen, behind the Great Barrier Reef.

The campaign against the mine has been long. Environmentalists first tried to use Australia’s environmental laws to block it from going ahead, and then failing that, focused on pressuring financial institutions, first here, and then around the world.

The news that Beijing has left Adani out to dry comes as on-the-ground protests against construction of the mine pick up. Two Greens MPs, Jeremy Buckingham and Dawn Walker, have been arrested in Queensland for disrupting the company’s activities.

Is China’s move the end of the road for Adani’s mega coalmine in Australia, and will the Adani Group be left with billions of dollars in stranded assets?.........

While threats to reputational damage were not effective against Adani Group, since it is family-owned, the same was not true of Australian banks, which were targeted heavily by activists.
And one by one, each of the big four Australian banks ruled out financing the mine.

The first of the big four banks declared it would not lend to the project two years ago. NAB distanced itself from the mine in September 2015 and ANZ followed suit in December.
Then in April this year Westpac became the third of the big banks to rule out funding the project, drawing criticism from resources minister, Matthew Canavan, who said the bank had a conflict of interest because of its interest in other coal-producing regions, and called for a boycott of the bank.

Undeterred, and in the face of a large campaign by environmental groups, the Commonwealth bank followed suit in August this year.

By then Adani had seen the writing on the wall, and had shifted to seek finance from overseas institutions. It entered negotiations with the state-owned China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC), which was thought to raise the potential of subsidised Chinese government loans.

The Australian government, which was seeking to give Adani its own subsidised loan, had supported the company’s efforts in China, according to a freedom of information request by the Australia Institute that reveals “several hundred pages” relating to formal representations to foreign financiers by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade…….

Friday, 10 November 2017

Turnbull Government employment services program a mess

Meanwhile in Australian Minister for Employment and Liberal Senator for Western Australia  Michaelia Cash’s ministerial portfolio…..

The Australian, 31 October 2017:

The Coalition’s flagship $7.3 billion employment services program has been branded a “hopeless mess” with fewer than 40 per cent of unemployed clients finding long-term work, more than a third of job agencies performing so badly they should be disqualified and warnings that fraud may go undetected.

The Australian has uncovered evidence of job agencies inducing or harassing former clients for pay slips from their new employers to claim taxpayer ­bonuses worth thousands of dollars each.

Agencies are handed incentive payments four weeks after a ­client starts a job and again at three months and cumulatively can get up to $13,750 at six months if the client stays in the job.

Fewer than 40 per cent of ­clients remain employed after six months and almost half of the $1.7bn the department spends on the program each year goes on administration.

An analysis by The Australian of the five-year program ­reveals 569 employment services sites out of 1648 around the nation have failed a measure set by the ­Department of Employment that requires their business be reduced or taken away entirely, but only 12 companies have had their share reduced.

The problem is particularly ­severe in Western Australia, the home state of Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, where just 14 per cent of the 107 employment services sites met the grade for service standards. Only two sites were operating above the national average but the department has “deferred” any shake-up of the private companies “to give providers an opportunity to ­improve their performance”.

The bonuses under the re­designed “jobactive” program launched by the Coalition are big business and, in many cases, ­securing them is the only revenue keeping the organisations afloat.

The Australian understands there are active moves within the Labor Party to reconsider the ­entire employment services model, and while opposition ­employment services spokesman Ed Husic was tight-lipped on the issue in August, he admonished the system in a speech to service providers.

“We spend roughly $9bn on government jobs programs, the second largest area of procurement outside of defence,” he said.

“We have 730,000 people out of work … 40,000 employment services consultants and only 20 per cent of the people helped by the government’s jobs programs find work for more than 26 weeks.”

The Salvation Army lost more than $1 million a month in the first 18 months of the scheme launched in July 2015 because it was not qualifying for the bonus payments it needed to.

David Thompson, the chief executive of Jobs Australia, the peak organisation for non-profit providers, said the system was a “hopeless mess”, not “hugely ­effective” and had been run to the advantage of the largest companies.

“On average, the staff who work at these places have a high-school-level education and a caseload of 150 jobseekers,” he said. “That’s average. Some of them have 300 people they have to see in a week. They do not have a ­relationship with anyone. It’s cheap.”….

The department declined to release the names of the companies in the “low-impact breaches” because it said it was “concerned that publishing such information may cause commercial harm to the relevant providers”.

Of the 65 providers contracted to deliver employment support services on behalf of the federal government, the Department of Employment has classified more than 43 per cent of having a risk rating of “extreme or high”.

Of this number, more than half were rated extreme or high due to concerns about their ongoing financial viability, more than one-third due to overall service standards, 28 per cent were deemed compliance risks and ­almost 4 per cent were categorised as being at risk of fraud.

Friday, 13 October 2017

File this one under 'Who's guarding the guards?'

The politicians forming Australian state and federal governments assure us they are upright, ethical people with histories as pure as the driven snow. They tell us their advisors are trustworthy beyond doubt and their senior public service appointees & finance/security consultants ditto. While their big business mates like Gina, Twiggy and Co are genuinely true blue and philanthropic.

Yet, as step by step these same politicians lead us towards authoritarian governance and Big Brother mass surveillance, their feet of clay can’t help but show.

North Coast Voices readers may remember that SMEC Holdings Limited (now SMEC and Surbana Juronghas been a favourite of Malcolm Turnbull's since he was the Minister for the Environment and Water Resouces in the Howard Government ministry.

This company provided an error-ridden desktop study for Turnbull supporting damming and diverting water from NSW North Coast river systems, with a preference for visiting this environmental vandalism on the Clarence River system.

It is now allegedly a corrupt multinational corpration.

The Age, 4 October 2017:

An arm of the company tasked with advising the Turnbull government on its signature infrastructure project, Snowy Hydro 2.0, has been banned by the World Bank for alleged bribery and corruption, prompting further calls for a federal anti-corruption watchdog……

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull poses for a photo during his announcement of Snowy Hydro 2.0 in March.
Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Engineering company SMEC had five of its subsidiaries banned by the World Bank last week after an investigation into "inappropriate payments" linked to projects in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. 

SMEC was chosen to undertake the $29 million feasibility study back in May and the work is due to be finished by the end of the year. The firm was selected by the state and federal government-owned Snowy Hydro corporation, which runs the current power plant.

Last year, Fairfax Media revealed the details of some of the allegations around improper payments involving SMEC, including allegedly corrupt dealings between the firm and Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena when he was a cabinet minister in 2009.

Those dealings and others are still under investigation by the federal police.

This is one wealthy individual audited by the Australian Taxation Office - venture capitalist and independent consultant to business & government for over twelve years, Anthony ‘Tony’ Castagna.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 October 2017:

Anthony Castagna's company helps protect the cyber secrets and detect financial crimes within the world's most powerful institutions, including the Serious Fraud Office in Britain, US Homeland Security, the Australian defence force, ASIC, even the Office of the President of the US.

Now the Sydney-based co-founder and chairman of Nuix, majority owned by Macquarie Bank, faces a potential 20-year jail term after being charged with tax evasion and dealing with the proceeds of crime.

Dr Castagna, 70, has been the target of two of Nuix's major clients: the Australian Federal police and the Australian Tax Office through Project Wickenby, their long-running tax probe.

The charges relate to payments from Macquarie Bank which were allegedly channelled into offshore companies controlled by his cousin Robert Agius, who was sentenced to a non-parole period of 6 years and 8 months' jail in 2012 for operating unrelated tax avoidance schemes via his Vanuatu-based accountancy firm.

In addition to Dr Castagna's criminal charges, the ATO is pursuing him for unpaid taxes and penalties in excess of $10 million.

For decades, the tech guru has been a rainmaker for Macquarie Bank. The bank has ploughed millions of dollars into his cyber security and forensic services company Nuix. A totally owned Macquarie Group subsidiary owns more than 70 per cent of Nuix and over the last year Macquarie advisors have been talking up a billion-dollar float of Nuix on the Australian stock exchange....

Dr Castagna, who denies any wrongdoing and is vigorously defending the charges....

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Phone scammer stung by ABC radio presenter

ABC News, 12 September 2017:

A man claiming to be from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has given an expletive-ridden spray to ABC presenter Nick Rheinberger after being told their conversation was being recorded.

It was a voicemail likely to make even the most honest taxpayer frightened — a message from someone claiming to be from the tax office accusing you of tax fraud and asking you to call back immediately.

This is what happened to the ABC Illawarra presenter recently, so he called them back from his radio studio.

The phone call (which was not broadcast live) started politely with a man identifying himself as an ATO employee, who then asked for Rheinberger's details.

The conversation quickly turned offensive when the ABC presenter told him he was in a radio studio.

"I need to let you know I'm recording this call as well," Rheinberger said.

"F*** you, and the recording, and put this recording to your ass as well mother f***er," the man said.

"Right, OK, that's what I'd expect from the Australian Taxation Office," Rheinberger said sarcastically.

"OK? So go and get f***ed, go and f*** your mum."

The call was recorded because Rheinberger suspected it was a scam and wanted to highlight the problem, which the ATO warns has already scammed Australians out of $1.5 million this year.

The caller (who sounds as if he is an Australian resident) has been attempting to make contact with a number of people this month. See

The name “Michael Anderson” or “Mike Anderson” appears to be associated with a number of scams and more than one scammer – lottery win, advance fee, cash advance debt recovery, scam victims compensation fund, next of kin inheritance fraud, unlawful prescription drug purchase, application fee, romance and more.

One of these “Michael Andersons” was caught, charged and convicted sometime between 2006 and 2008.

A number of the other Mr. Andersons appear to still be busy dialling and emailing – trying to get the unwary to either hand over their cash or volunteer enough personal information to allow the caller to attempt identity theft.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

And so the spotlight hovers over Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and NSW Regional Water Minister Niall Blair......

When both the NSW Coalition Government (2 April 2015) and Federal Coalition Government (21 September 2015) gave a minister dual responsibility for agriculture and water one could almost hear the political train careening wildly in the distance.

Unfortunately two years later the people of Australia woke to discover that handing over responsibility for water in a complex major river system to two National Party MPs meant it was also a social, economic and environmental train wreck as well.

All the audits and investigations in the world will not unmake the disaster that the Murray-Darling Basin Plan has become under Barnaby Joyce and Niall Blair unless the political will is there, however this is a good start.

"The Auditor-General will investigate how Barnaby Joyce's Dept is monitoring use of environmental water by NSW." [@Tony_Burke]

In an effort to wrest back control of the situation Prime Minister Turnbull has reportedly 
ordered the Murray Darling Basin Authority to conduct an allegedly ndependent basin-wide review into compliance with state-based regulations governing water use. The review report will be presented to the December 2017 Council of Australian Government (COAG) meeting.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Would you trust these men with your personal health information? Part Two

Left to Right: Minister for Human Services and Liberal MP for Aston, Alan Tudge
Minister for Health and Liberal MP for Flinders, Greg Hunt

The Guardian, 8 July 2017:
The government found itself facing heavy criticism this week over how it handles Australians’ personal information, after a Guardian investigation revealed a darknet trader was illegally selling the details of any Medicare card holder on request by “exploiting a vulnerability” in a government system.
The data had been for sale since at least October 2016, and the seller appears to have sold the Medicare details of at least 75 Australians…..
“What’s happening is the community is wrapping these attacks together and seeing them as a threat, and it adds to a perception that their data is not safe,” said Australia’s privacy commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim. “All the players need to work out a way to build up that trust.”
But why do these breaches keep happening? And is the government doing everything it can to stop them, and reassure the public when they do happen?
After being alerted by the Guardian to the Medicare breach, the minister took swift action, referring it to the Australian federal police for investigation. Pilgrim welcomed this as an appropriate response…..
The most critical risk to Australians from the misuse of Medicare card data is one of identity fraud. A fake Medicare card with legitimate details can get a criminal a quarter of the way to an entire fake ID. This could then be used by organised crime groups in any number of ways, for example by leasing property or equipment. It could also be used to fraudulently obtain services from Medicare itself.
In this case, the darknet was the vehicle for this particular identity fraud scam. But it didn’t need to be, and it is likely similar, less-sophisticated scams are taking place right now.
Tudge has used an unusual line to explain the breach. He has said it was not a hack or cyber attack, but “traditional criminal activity”. What he’s edging around is that his department believe this was a case of an individual using a legitimate method to access Medicare data – but for an unauthorised and illegal purpose.
But contrary to Tudge’s assertion, access control is very much a matter of cybersecurity. And there are a lot of problems with the way Medicare card details can be obtained.
For instance more than 200,000 individual users can potentially look up Medicare card details through the department’s system. The department has declined to answer whether each access is logged, which could allow it to trace when a particular card was looked up. If those controls aren’t there, it’s unlikely the darkweb vendor selling this data will be found.
It doesn’t mean someone sitting in a doctor’s clinic has been supplying the data. A prospective patient could show up at a GP’s reception, pretending to be someone else, and just ask for that person’s Medicare card details. Guardian Australia has spoken with one employee at a medical practice who said people regularly asked for their card details to be supplied.
Identity fraud using Medicare cards is coming to be seen as a big problem in the government. The human services department acknowledged in February 2016 that there had been 1,500 “probable” cases of Medicare fraud, a jump from 269. The Australian reported that in 2014 the justice minister, Michael Keenan, set out to quantify the scale of Medicare card fraud taking place. A study found Medicare cards and driving licences were the mostly commonly used forms of ID for fraudsters.
The problem appears to be growing worse as those given credentials to access Medicare card details legitimately has increased – jumping 25% in the last financial year – and as organised crime groups grow more sophisticated in their methods.
All of this contributes to the loss of trust….

Friday, 2 December 2016

Former Queensland LNP politician found guilty of fraud

What started with this……

Hockings v Queensland Retail Traders and Shopkeepers Association (Industrial Organization of Employers) [2014] QIRC 037
Hockings, John Norman
Queensland Retail Traders and Shopkeepers Association (Industrial Organization of Employers)
Application to re-open proceedings
19 February 2014
12 and 26 April 2013
30 May 2013
Deputy President Bloomfield
1.  Matter No. RIO/2012/155 be re-opened on the Commission's own initiative.
2.  Orders in Matter No. RIO/2012/155, issued on 10 September 2012 and formalised on 5 December 2012, be vacated.
3.  Mr Scott and Mrs Emma Driscoll be referred to the Queensland Police Service for investigation.
4.  Mr  Scott Driscoll  be referred to the Speaker of Queensland Parliament for possibly misleading Parliament.
Ended with this…….

Brisbane Times, 25 November 2016:

Former Queensland politician Scott Driscoll has admitted to soliciting thousands of dollars in secret commissions and falsifying records during his term as the Member for Redcliffe.

Driscoll was expected to stand trial in the Brisbane District Court next week but on Friday pleaded guilty to 15 charges, including fraud.

The 41-year-old was released on bail and is due to be sentenced next year on March 6.

The former Liberal National Party MP won office in the Newman government's landslide in the March 2012 election victory.

Driscoll resigned in disgrace from State Parliament in November 2013for misleading the House about his financial interests and his role in the Queensland Retail Traders and Shopkeepers Association.

A year later, Driscoll was charged by the Crime and Corruption Commission for soliciting secret commissions worth at least $400,000 on behalf of the QRTSA from Wesfarmers and Woolworths in October 2012 while he was in office……

Driscoll did not speak to the media as he left the court with his wife Emma, who was sentenced in September to three years jail, wholly suspended, for multiple counts of falsifying a record and making a false declaration.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Is PayWave picking your pocket at the checkout?

Tweed Daily News 3 September 2014:

PAYWAVE card payments have improved efficiency at the checkout, but the experience of one South Grafton man suggests you should be vigilant near one of the terminals.
Last week, Don Booth, of South Grafton, was waiting behind another customer at the cash register of a Grafton business.
As he watched the cashier, he noticed she did something different and asked her what happened.
He was shocked to find that instead of billing the customer in front of him, the terminal had picked up the card in his wallet and completed the transaction with his money.
"Because the girl at the checkout noticed it, we were able to fix it up straight away," Mr Booth said.
He said the girl at the checkout told him it was not her first experience of a payWave transaction going wrong.
"She said it happened in Coles to a customer, in the same way it happened to me," Mr Booth said.
Mr Booth said he would be taking extra care to check his next card statement.

Perhaps the rise in credit card fraud NSW Police Coffs Clarence Police Command has recently complained about may also be a result of flaws in wireless near field communication technology.

In October last year Among Tech posted this information on electronic pickpocketing:

The fact that you can use your smartphone to pay at a restaurant or a store is great and with NFC (Near Field Communication) technology you can do just that, but what else? Several months back a report from CBC showed us how easy it is to steal credit card credentials using an App and NFC technology which is integrated in most of the high end Android smartphones, but even after 6 months it is still possible to download one of these Apps and hack someone’s credit card and Google has made no changes to its software in order to make it harder for people to steal someone else’s credit card info.
Apps like SquareLess allow users to see a credit cards number, security code and expiration date which later can be used by hackers to purchase products online without the credit card holder to give them permission to do so. SquareLess is just one of the many apps available on the Play Store that allow you to do just this, which is a very serious issue. A study done by xdadevelopers that any of the following credit cards can be hacked using NFC:
American Express Blue Cards
Chase Credit Cards
MasterCard PayPass
Visa payWave Cards
So, How can an App and NFC read credit card credentials? NFC technology is also what is used in stores to read our credit card, a credit card will give its information which allows you to make the transaction once it finds a valid payment terminal device but the credit card doesn’t look at what type of terminal device this is (since it doesn’t know this information), it is just interested in finding one. Making the smartphone function like a payment terminal can allow you to “fool” the credit card making it think it is what it is looking for, easily allow the app to read all the necessary credentials. In order to do so, all that is required is for the smartphone with NFC to be approximately 10cm close to the credit card. Here is a video demonstrating just how easy it can be done……

Channel 7 Today Tonight also broadcast an item on this subject in July this year.

Internet websites are now offering RFID-shielding passport holders/wallets/sleeves to prevent remote scanning and skimming of Paywave or touch-and-go-credit cards, although the effectiveness of these products is open to question.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Attorney-General George Brandis and his bravura performance as Pot-Kettle-Black

Australian Attorney-General George Brandis in opposition and government on the subject of members of parliament and honest/ethical conduct.

In Hansard 17 August 2011:

Finally, it was only yesterday, when this matter was brought to light, that the member for Dobell sought to amend his register of a member's interests by lodging with the Register of Members' Interests for the House of Representatives a letter that identified the payment of a sum of money in May 2011 by the Australian Labor Party's New South Wales branch, in settlement of a legal matter to which I was a party. Why was that amendment made only after its disclosure was revealed?

On ABC The Drum 29 August 2011:

Senator Brandis has pursed the ALP backbencher Thomson with a vigour that is disturbing on a number of levels.
Firstly, there are the telephone calls to ministers and police commissioners. Senator Brandis called New South Wales Attorney-General Greg Smith, a fellow Liberal, in early August. Smith says that Brandis was alerting him to a forthcoming media story which would reveal Brandis had asked the New South Wales DPP to look at the Thomson matter.
Then a couple of weeks later Brandis was on the phone again, this time to speak with New South Wales Police Minister Michael Gallacher to again alert him to the fact that Brandis would be sending a brief to the Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione. Gallacher himself alerted Scipione to look out for the Brandis brief.
Then there was Brandis's call to Australian Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus last week. Brandis apparently wanted to clarify whether the AFP would be investigating the matter.
On Channel 7 Sunrise:
"Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis has provided information to police in relation to a number of matters concerning a federal Labor MP," police said in a statement on Tuesday.
"This correspondence has now been referred for internal assessment to determine whether a criminal offence has occurred."

In Hansard 5 February 2013:

Meanwhile, in the coming week there are the fraud charges against the other man upon whose vote the Gillard government depends, Mr Peter Slipper.

In The Sydney Morning Herald 23 September 2013:

he regarded the wedding as a chance to ''foster collaboration'' over Mr Smith's work covering the then prime minister and the Craig Thomson scandal

In the Herald Sun 30 September 2013:

Yesterday, Senator Brandis said he would repay the money to avoid any uncertainty about the circumstances of Mr Smith’s wedding in December 2011.
But he said he still considered he was within parliamentary entitlements to make them.
“I considered that those costs were within parliamentary entitlements, since they were incurred in the course of attendance at a function primarily for work-related purposes. I remain of that view,” he said in a letter written today to the Finance Department.

George Brandis’ July-December 2011 Parliamentarian’s Expenditure Record covering the period in which he travelled to and from the private Smith wedding at taxpayers’ expense:
Domestic Travel 4 Dec 11 Brisbane Sydney 5 Dec 11 Sydney Brisbane $1,191.06
Com Car Brisbane 4 Dec 11 $82.83 Brisbane 5 Dec 11 $44.23
Hire Car Sydney 4 Dec to 5 Dec 11 $143.40
TOTAL $1,461.52 8 April 2013:

Mr Slipper, who stood down from the role of Speaker of the House of Representatives amid controversy last year, faces charges relating to three occasions in which he allegedly dishonestly used Cabcharge dockets to visit Canberra wineries in hire cars in 2010, amounting to $1194 in charges to the taxpayer.

It would appear that the more a member of parliament or senator owes the Department of Finance, the less likely he or she will be held accountable at law.

While the Attorney-General’s attitude seems to be that it is fraud when someone considered a political enemy makes a dubious claim for expenses over and above his/her parliamentary salary or fails to accurately record financial details, but it is perfectly alright when he or a member of his party does so. Additionally, Brandis appears to believe he is entitled to use his expense claims to hide the cost of actively pursuing such a perceived enemy.

The rules relating to parliamentarians' travel allowances/entitlements can be found here.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Fracking PsyOps. Yesterday America, today New South Wales?

For all those NSW Northern Rivers 'insurgents' out there.........

CNBC 8 November 2011:

CNBC has obtained audiotapes of the event, on which one presenter can be heard recommending that his colleagues download a copy of the Army and Marine Corps counterinsurgency manual. That’s because, he said, the opposition facing the industry is an “insurgency.”....

Another told attendees that his company has several former military psychological operations, or “psy ops” specialists on staff, applying their skills in Pennsylvania....

In a session entitled “Designing a Media Relations Strategy To Overcome Concerns Surrounding Hydraulic Fracturing,” Range Resources communications director Matt Pitzarella spoke about “overcoming stakeholder concerns” about the fracking process.
“We have several former psy ops folks that work for us at Range because they’re very comfortable in dealing with localized issues and local governments,” Pitzarella said. “Really all they do is spend most of their time helping folks develop local ordinances and things like that. But very much having that understanding of psy ops in the Army and in the Middle East has applied very helpfully here for us in Pennsylvania.”
At another session, Matt Carmichael, the manager of external affairs for Anadarko Petroleum , spoke on the topic of “Understanding How Unconventional Oil & Gas Operators are Developing a Comprehensive Media Relations Strategy to Engage Stakeholders and Educate the Public.”
He said he had several recommendations for the oil industry media professionals at the event, one of which, he said, involved the military.
“Download the U.S. Army-slash-Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual, because we are dealing with an insurgency,” Carmichael said. “There’s a lot of good lessons in there and coming from a military background, I found the insight in that extremely remarkable.”
Audio here.
Approximately 472 page U.S. Army -Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual (December 2006) here.

Excerpt from U.S. Army - Marine Corp Counterinsurgency Field Manual: Afghanistan Edition here.