MARK Standen, the top criminal investigator charged this week over an international drug-smuggling conspiracy, was introduced to his alleged partner in crime by a former workmate at the Australian Federal Police.
Mr Standen, 51, was an AFP agent at the same time as Dianne Jalalaty (nee Jones). Ms Jalalaty is the wife of Bakhos (Bill) Jalalaty, the Sydney food importer also facing charges relating to the attempted importation of chemicals that were to be used to make $120 million worth of the deadly drug ice.
|NSW Crime Commission chief Phillip Bradley|
AFP Deputy Commissioner Tony Negus said yesterday that Ms Jalalaty had been an AFP officer but had left the force some years ago.
"All links to the individuals will be investigated but at this stage she has not been charged and we don't anticipate that in the near future, but we don't rule anything out," Mr Negus said yesterday.
Mr Standen, the assistant director of the secretive and powerful NSW Crime Commission, was arrested at his desk in his Sydney office on Monday.
The cases of Mr Standen and Mr Jalalaty, 45, came separately before the Sydney Central Local Court yesterday. They face the same three charges: conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of a border controlled precursor; conspiracy to supply 600kg of pseudoephedrine; and conspiring to pervert the course of justice by using "privileged information" in relation to the judicial power of the commonwealth. Neither man applied for bail and they have been remanded in custody. Mr Standen is expected to make a bail application next week.
If convicted, they could face life imprisonment or a $600,000 fine.
Mr Standen was arrested by AFP agents as part of a series of co-ordinated raids in Europe, Thailand and Sydney.
NSW Crime Commission chief Phillip Bradley yesterday made a rare public appearance to insist Mr Standen's arrest was an isolated incident.
"It's very damaging, there's no doubt about that," Mr Bradley said at a media conference at AFP headquarters in Sydney.
Mr Bradley confirmed that Mr Standen had a gambling problem, saying it had recently come to his notice. "Yes, recently we became aware of that," he said.
Former colleagues described Mr Standen as a fearsome investigator with a "photographic mind" and zest for rooting out corruption.
When Mr Standen joined the commission he was put in charge of what is known in the body as the Gymea Reference, which has responsibility for investigating organised crime, drug importation, and the manufacture and distribution of drugs. In his position he was privy to every major drug and organised crime operation in NSW.
Mr Standen and Mr Jalalaty appear to be an odd couple. While Mr Standen is a successful, high-ranking law enforcement agent, Mr Jalalaty is an odd-jobs man, with a chequered professional career that included a stint as a stripper with the curious nickname of "Boxhead".
"Some people used to say he was the hairiest stripper they had ever seen," one associate said yesterday.
The two met through Ms Jalalaty, who worked as an AFP agent at the same time as Mr Standen and introduced her husband to her colleague.
Ms Jalalaty left the AFP about the same time Mr Standen left to join the NSW Crime Commission in 1996. But her husband and her former workmate allegedly stayed in touch.
Mr Standen and Mr Jalalaty have been under surveillance by the AFP for the past 12 months and it will be alleged that they had been working with a criminal syndicate in The Netherlands to import the chemicals.
Last week police swooped, arresting 11 Dutch nationals. Mr Kinch was arrested in Thailand. The AFP will seek his extradition.
Mr Negus said it had been a highly intricate and complex investigation. "The ability to co-ordinate this across multiple agencies, jurisdictions and legal systems has been unprecedented," he said.
Additional reporting: Ean Higgins