Friday, March 27, 2009

Police to begin new inquiry into Standen

Kate McClymont - March 27, 2009
MARK STANDEN, the NSW Crime Commission officer arrested last year over his role in an alleged international drug importation syndicate, is now the subject of a Police Integrity Commission investigation.

The Herald understands that the PIC is investigating Standen's role in the handling of cash and assets confiscated from criminals. Each year the Crime Commission seizes millions of dollars in assets and properties confiscated as a result of investigations. Property can be seized without obtaining a criminal conviction if the Supreme Court finds it is more probable than not that the person has been involved in serious crime-related activities.

Last year the commission obtained forfeiture orders which netted the State Government more than $29 million. According to the commission's 2007-2008 annual report, the property forfeited included vehicles, jewellery, property, cash and funds held in bank accounts.

The most significant single item of property forfeited during the year was the sum of [about] $11 million in cash," it said.

One of the matters under investigation by the PIC involves a boat which Standen is alleged to have sold privately several years ago. The boat, worth more than $100,000, is alleged to have been sold by Standen at half its market value. A spokesman for the PIC said the organisation was unable to comment on any investigations.

Yesterday in the NSW Court of Appeal, the convicted drug importer Malcolm Gordon Field accused Standen of fabricating a document used by the commission to seize his assets. Having already seized Field's Australian assets, the NSW Crime Commission took action in the Supreme Court in 2001 to confiscate a villa in the south of France, claiming Field had bought it with the proceeds of crime.

Twice Field refused to give evidence in the matter and last year he was sentenced to 4½ years in jail for contempt of court. Representing himself, Field told the court yesterday that on June 3 last year, the day after Standen's arrest, a Crime Commission solicitor, John Giorgiutti, visited him in jail, offering to have his sentence reduced if he gave information about Standen. Field said he rejected the offer.

Ian Temby, QC, representing the commission, told the court that Field's allegations about the restraining orders were not relevant to the appeal and that the issue related solely to his two convictions for contempt of court in refusing to give sworn evidence at examinations in August 2001 and July 2005.

In his written submission, Mr Temby stated, "The examination order had to be obeyed, even if there was something wrong with it, which has not been demonstrated."

Field's seven-year sentence for drug and passport offences concluded in January last year. He will remain in jail until 2014 for his contempt of court if his appeal is unsuccessful.

Standen was arrested in June after an investigation by the Australian Federal Police into his role in an alleged plot to import chemicals from the Netherlands to manufacture the methamphetamine ice.

On the final day of Standen's committal hearing last month, the Crown prosecutor successfully asked for more time so that documents could be obtained from the Netherlands.
These will be presented to court when Standen's committal hearing resumes next month.

 Ref: Field v New South Wales Crime Commission [2009] NSWCA 144 (12 June 2009)

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