Source: BY NOEL TOWELL
07 Jun, 2008 09:30 AM
Senior Australian Federal Police officers were aware of corruption allegations against Mark Standen dating back to the 1980s, former officers say.
They allege Standen an assistant director of the NSW Crime Commission who has been charged with conspiring with an international syndicate to import $120million of drugs into Australia was named by witnesses at a 1996 inquiry into corruption in the force. The inquiry, chaired by Sydney barrister Ian Harrison was set up to investigate allegations of corruption among mostly Sydney-based AFP officers,
The report of the inquiry has never been made public, but several officers were dismissed in its wake and it is also alleged that Standen, along with several others suspected of corruption, was allowed to leave the AFP quietly by taking voluntary redundancy around the time of the probe.
An AFP spokesman declined to comment on the claims made by the former officers yesterday.
Standen was arrested on Monday at his Sydney desk and charged, along with another Australian man, with conspiring with a Dutch-based gang to smuggle 600kg of pseudo-ephedrine, the raw material of the drug ''ice'', into Australia.
It has also been revealed that in 1982, the Stewart Royal Commission into drug trafficking heard that then Federal Narcotics Bureau agents Standen and Stephen Innsley had both been charged after being caught flushing drugs down a toilet.
AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty said he was not aware of the charges.
''That's well before my time in this position and I've got to say that I was totally unaware of that case,'' Mr Keelty told radio yesterday.
Meanwhile, former NSW detective and anti-corruption campaigner Michael Kennedy said Standen who was well known to have a gambling addiction was closely associated with a group of corrupt members of the Joint Drugs Taskforce in the 1980s. The group had all come through the ranks of the disgraced Federal Narcotics Bureau in the 1970s, said Dr Kennedy, who gave evidence to the Wood Royal Commission into police corruption in NSW and the Harrison inquiry which sat for six months in 1996 and 1997.
Dr Kennedy accused members of Standen's Sydney drugs unit, then commanded by Clifford Samuel Foster who later killed himself while subject to corruption allegations, of stealing money from suspects and recycling drugs seized in raids.
''The problem we had was with a group of people who had come from the Narcotics Bureau when it was disbanded,'' Dr Kennedy said.
''Harrison could have been under no illusion, and neither could anyone else, who the people were that there was a problem with.''
The former head of operations for the AFP's internal investigations group, Ray Cooper, who was based in Canberra, said he raised the alarm about Standen in the late 1980s after an encounter with Standen who was then with the Sydney branch of the AFP's internal affairs unit.
''We were investigating corrupt cops in Sydney and he [Standen] was in internal affairs there and the place used to leak like a sieve,'' Mr Cooper said. ''We were investigating a bloke who was later convicted of corruption and this bloke [Standen] turned up on his day off and he was very interested in what was going on.
''I just sent him away and I suspected that he wasn't kosher at that stage and I passed a message on to his boss at internal affairs that they should watch him, put an intelligence report on him, but I don't know what happened after that.''
Mr Cooper, who retired from the AFP in 1995 said the Sydney AFP office was rife with corruption at the time and many of Standen's clique became caught up in graft inquiries.