Thursday, June 5, 2008

I knew he had a gambling problem, admits Standen's boss

AFP deputy commissioner Tony Negus, centre, with NSW Crime Commission head Phillip Bradley, right.
Photo: Kate Geraghty
ALLEGATIONS that Mark Standen had a gambling problem appear to have been widely known among law enforcement officers but how much his superiors knew is unclear.

When asked about the reputed gambling yesterday, the head of the NSW Crime Commission Phillip Bradley said, "Yes, recently we became aware of that."

Standen's barrister, Paul "Chewy" King, a former federal police officer, was angry about the "prejudicial comments" that those "in high positions" had made about his client yesterday.

Standen, 51, did not appear in court yesterday. Mr King, who had been up most of the night with his client, said Standen was "stressed" but was coping as well as could be expected.

Corrective Services was making sure he was kept in protection, Mr King said.

The arrest of the well-respected officer was the talk of the town among crime-fighters yesterday.
Given Standen's encyclopedic knowledge of organised crime in Australia, as well as his access to such sensitive areas as police informants, there was speculation about past NSW Crime Commission investigations that had gone awry.

Mr Bradley was keen to play down any speculation that other cases may have been tainted.

"We had a great deal of coverage [with] physical surveillance and electronic surveillance and that gave us some confidence that this was the only crime that he was involved in," he said.

However, questions are being asked about any connection Mr Standen might have had with James Henry Kinch, who has been arrested in Thailand in connection with the plan to import drugs.

Kinch was initially arrested five years ago over a plan to import ecstasy tablets concealed in pot plants.

The brief of evidence against Kinch was dropped and he subsequently fled the country. He is understood to have been one of Standen's informants.

Also arrested with Standen was Bakhos (Bill) Jalalaty, 45, of Maroota, near Wisemans Ferry. Court attendance notices revealed the pair's alleged conspiracy began two years ago at 9am on June 1, 2006, and continued until their arrest on Monday afternoon.

Jalalaty and Standen met through Jalalaty's wife, Dianne, who worked beside Standen when they were with the Australian Federal Police

The Lebanese-born Jalalaty, a former body-builder, is a providore. His family business BJ's Fine Foods has provided restaurants and David Jones Foodhalls with upmarket produce.

It has been alleged that Standen and Jalalaty were planning to hide 600 kilos of the precursor chemical pseudo- ephedrine in a shipment of basmati rice. Sent from Pakistan, it was due to arrive on Anzac Day but was apparently stolen.

Standen is best known for his work on the organised crime syndicate which led to the arrest of underworld figure Michael Hurley, who died in prison last year.

Although Hurley was a regular target for law-enforcement agencies, his connections with corrupt police over the years enabled him to stay one step ahead. Police moved against his gang in May 2005, but Hurley had been tipped off that a member of his syndicate was wearing a wire.

Hurley was arrested in 2006 after nine months on the run.

The tip-off led to a souring of relations between the federal police and the NSW Crime Commission. Senior federal police officer Gerry Fletcher was sacked after Standen and others accused him of leaking to Hurley.

Fletcher was cleared and has been reinstated by the AFP.

The federal police removed their seconded officers from the crime commission over arguments about the commission authorising the controlled sale of seven kilos of cocaine which Hurley had organised Qantas baggage handlers to bring into the country.

The AFP was opposed to the controversial plan to allow the commission's informant "Tom" to sell the drugs, which subsequently disappeared.

The arrest of Standen by the federal police is unlikely to thaw the frosty relationship between the two crime-fighting bodies.

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