Thursday, April 7, 2011

Standen trial hears of 'drug ring panic'

Jodie Minus and Tom Westbrook From: The Australian April 08, 2011 12:00AM

AS a $120 million shipment of drugs sat waiting to be collected at a Sydney port, things started to go badly wrong with former crime-fighter Mark Standen's alleged importation plot.

A Sydney court yesterday heard a series of frantic phone calls made by Mr Standen's co-accused, Sydney food importer Bakhos Jalalaty, to contacts in Pakistan and Holland, in a desperate bid to find "original documents" so the shipment could be released at Port Botany.

At first, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service had requested a "clearer copy" of a quarantine clearance ticket. Then the shipping agency, MISC, needed proof from its Pakistan office that the shipment had been paid for.

Until then, MISC in Sydney was refusing to release the shipment; and Mr Jalalaty was under pressure from alleged Dutch co-conspirator Henry Kinch.

"What seems to be the hold-up?" Mr Kinch asked in an email on Friday, May 2, 2008. "What are we waiting for?"

Adding to Mr Jalalaty's worries was the fact that the shipping container was due to be inspected and samples taken by quarantine officials on Monday, May 5.

In phone conversations, intercepted by the Australian Federal Police, Mr Jalalaty said he had already paid $20,000 for the shipment, but Pakistani-based Shahd Kahn was claiming he had "not received a penny" and would not provide the original documents until the money was received.

"I have received nothing . . . at the moment I need E20,000," Mr Kahn said.

Mr Jalalaty said he would pay the money "as soon as the bank opens on Monday", stressing that he needed the original documents to be at the MISC office in Pakistan by Monday morning, "or I am in big trouble here".

Exactly one month later, Mr Standen and Mr Jalalaty were arrested and charged with conspiracy to import $120m worth of pseudoephedrine to Australia, with the alleged drugs hidden in a shipping container of rice from Pakistan.

The crown alleges that Mr Standen -- the former assistant director of the NSW Crime Commission -- who had previously worked with Customs and the AFP, used his inside knowledge to advise Mr Jalalaty and Mr Kinch on the best ways to avoid detection.

But Mr Standen's counsel, Mark Ierace SC, has told a NSW Supreme Court jury his client's relationship with the pair had no "ulterior criminal purpose" and he had expected the container to hold only rice.

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