Friday, August 12, 2011

Cocky, confident and living the high life

Author: Geesche Jacobsen

Date: 12/08/2011

Many may wonder what fate awaits them after Mark Standen's conviction, writes Geesche Jacobsen.
It was mid March and Mark Standen was cocky - only a few months to go until his release after nearly three years in protective custody.
Surely, the jury would see the charges against him were false and he would be acquitted. It was all in the interpretation of a few key conversations, but he had a perfectly innocent explanation, he insisted.
He was so confident, he had rejected a deal in which two charges would be dropped in exchange for a guilty plea to the import conspiracy, and he would probably leave jail after eight years.
Standen stayed upbeat and confident for the duration of his trial, remembered details most of us would long since have forgotten, and spoke at length about his controversial dealings with his business partner Bill Jalalaty and informer James Kinch.
Despite some startling admissions - he had accepted money from Kinch; he thought Jalalaty believed the import was an "unlawful scenario"; he had broken NSW Crime Commission rules - his brothers who came to court every day, remained supportive.
Had he been right, the fallout, and potential damages for the former senior crime fighter would have been enormous.
Now that the jury has accepted the prosecution's interpretation of countless emails and conversations, a very different fallout from Standen's fall from grace is about to begin.
Already, authorities are investigating other allegations against Standen, against the Crime Commission and against some who worked with Standen years ago in the federal police.
For years other criminals made allegations about threats and inducements by Standen - but any examination of his prior dealings could put dozens of criminal convictions at risk.
The big question is whether Australia's law enforcement establishment can afford to fully open the lid on this can of worms - and publicly examine its contents.
While questions about Standen's probity first surfaced more than 30 years ago, little was done and he managed to build a career in law enforcement.
In 1980 he was charged under the Public Service Act with wilfully disregarding an order - after allegedly flushing seized drugs down a toilet while working for Customs' narcotics bureau.
Standen explained that he and two colleagues had seized the drugs - 18 foils of hash - during a raid but had overlooked them because of a new investigation the following day.
"It was [later] decided that it was inadvisable to follow the [narcotics] bureau policy as that would only complicate matters further and it was decided that the best course to take would be to dispose of the subject material ... It was an act of stupidity as a result of forgetfulness," he wrote.
Within weeks, in June 1980, he had started work at the federal police and could no longer be disciplined for those charges. When he joined the Crime Commission in 1996, employment checks did not reveal this incident. While concerns were raised about his dealings with informers before, the present case has brought these to a head.
Standen started dealing with James Kinch after the Englishman was arrested and charged with drug and money laundering offences in 2003. Soon Standen lobbied the Director of Public Prosecutions, including the now Attorney-General, Greg Smith, to drop the charges.
But while the DPP dropped some charges, the case against Kinch largely collapsed because a witness refused to give evidence and claimed Standen had pressured her during seven hours of interrogation. She said she was scared after being arrested by 12 men, taken to the commission's office in Kent Street, and told she would not need a lawyer. There, she was allegedly told she "had to" co-operate.
She said Standen asked her if she had children or family. "He said 'Well, we can make things very difficult for you. She got the impression the threat was coming from Mark [Standen]," said a letter from the DPP to Kinch's lawyers.
But Standen insisted Kinch was a most valuable informer.
Standen told the jury he believed Kinch had given up the drug business after leaving Australia in early 2004. But the federal police, which considered recruiting him as a source soon afterwards, became convinced he was still involved.
Before Kinch left Australia, the Crime Commission and NSW Police conducted a controlled operation to launder $300,000 of suspected drug money seized when he was arrested. But the operation failed to recover the funds or lead to any charges.
This blunder is reminiscent of the infamous operation involving an informer, Tom, in which six kilograms of cocaine reached the streets of Sydney.
Standen had been in charge of Tom, and a related drug trial shortly after Standen's arrest - but suppressed until now - heard suggestions that Standen might have had a "criminal involvement" with him similar to his relationship with Kinch.
That trial heard Tom's recruitment as an informer was "surrounded by impropriety" and he was given a paid overseas holiday, allowed to continue dealing in drugs and to keep the proceeds. He had also bribed two officers, extorted money at knife point and committed a drive-by shooting. When Standen became aware of an internal investigation into Tom's activities, he allegedly failed to tell his boss, Phillip Bradley.
The court also heard that Standen had breached guidelines for dealing with the drugs and the money earned from the sale.
In another drug trial, an informant alleged Standen had mentioned his children's safety "with a smirk on [his] face".
While the man wrote an abusive letter to Standen in January 2008 calling him an "ignorant point-scoring power boy" and a "dump of cat shit" and insisting he would not give a statement, he later became an informer and gave evidence against four men in two separate drug conspiracies. Lawyers for the men questioned his reliability.
The man, who said he believed Standen was there "to try and scare me", told the court he had also threatened to send bulldozers to pull up the pool at his sister's place, which had allegedly been paid for with drug money.
Convicted criminals Michael Hurley and Malcolm Gordon Field also made accusations against Standen. Field accused him of fabricating a document used by the commission to seize his assets, but refused requests to give evidence against Standen after his arrest. And Hurley, shortly before his death, accused him of fabricating evidence against him.
Questions have also been raised about Standen's dealings with the convicted drug dealer John Anderson, who is also the suspect in a series of rapes and murders.
Standen, who recruited Anderson as an informer in the late 1970s when he still worked for the narcotics bureau, allegedly kept in close contact and even introduced him to his family.
When he was arrested, there were rumours Standen had a gambling problem. Instead the trial heard he borrowed money from colleagues, and was constantly juggling overdue bills, while living the high life with his girlfriend.
Dinners in Sydney's best restaurants, nights in top hotels, clothes and jewellery - he had it all, but at the same time had no money to buy groceries.
The public purse paid for his defence and full light might not be shed on all of Standen's past actions until the money trail has also come under full scrutiny.
As the fallout from his conviction begins with an examination of his last employer, the NSW Crime Commission, Standen has returned to his cell under protection in a NSW jail, where he is to be kept safe from anyone who might have a grudge against him.
While he might ponder why the jury disbelieved him, or whether he should have accepted the deal offered, others must be wondering what his downfall will mean for their future.
Geesche Jacobsen analyses the Standen verdict
Base of the Dutch syndicate alleged to have conspired to import 300 kilograms of
pseudoephedrine from Pakistan to Australia. Led by Loek Weerden, an arms dealer and son of a Dutch detective.
Mark Standen, James Kinch and Bill Jalalaty met for lunch at the Marrakech restaurant in January 2007. Jalalaty and Kinch met again in November 2007 and May 2008.
Base of the company Elegant Hosiery, which negotiated with Jalalaty over the rice shipments.
James Henry Kinch, former informer to the NSW Crime Commission and accused drug
dealer. Charges in 2003 of money laundering and drug offences were later dropped. Agreed to forfeit $900,000 seized from him by the Crime Commission. Left Australia in early 2004 but stayed in touch with Standen. Allegedly co-ordinated Pakistani and Dutch sides of the operation. Now fighting extradition to Australia from a Bangkok prison.
Mark William Standen, former officer of customs, the Narcotics Bureau, the Australian Federal Police and the National Crime Authority, and the former assistant director, investigations, of the NSW Crime Commission.
Bakhos Bill Jalalaty, food wholesaler and importer. Pleaded guilty to conspiring
with Standen and Kinch to import pseudoephedrine. Now serving a six-year minimum
Dianne Jalalaty, nee James. A former AFP agent who used to work with Standen but
left the police to work in her husband s business.
MAR Kinch arrested and charged in Sydney. Becomes an informer, handled by Standen.
MAR Kinch leaves Australia after charges against him are dropped.
DEC Kinch sends Jalalaty $47,000 to give to Standen.
JAN Jalalaty meets Kinch in Thailand. FEB Jalalaty receives $1m, a loan organised by
Kinch, in cash in a sportsbag which he keeps in his cupboard. He loses $580,000 of
it in an ill-judged investment.
MAY Australian authorities start investigation after tip-off from Dutch police.
OCT 17,000 kilograms of rice arrives in Sydney, allegedly a test shipment.
APR Second shipment of rice, supposed to contain 300 kilograms of pseudoephedrine, arrives in Sydney. No pseudoephedrine or other substance found.
MAY More than 500 bags of rice delivered to Jalalaty s Blacktown warehouse. LATE MAY Dutch syndicate members and Kinch arrested. Kinch charged in
NSW over the conspiracy. JUN 2 Standen, Jalalaty arrested.
JUN Standen committed for trial.
FEB Joint trial of Standen and Jalalaty due to start, but delayed by a pending High
Court decision. MAY Jalalaty pleads guilty, further delaying Standen s trial.
MAR Standen s trial starts. AUG Jury finds Standen guilty.

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