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Friday, 21 December 2012

The surplus is gone, Customs is stripped of money, Middle Eastern Gangs ship guns in to order

UP TO two dozen illegal handguns - including some bought by Sydney crime  gangs - passed through Port Botany after customs officers falsified paperwork to  wrongly claim they had X-rayed the container in which the weapons were  hidden.

A six-month Fairfax Media investigation - conducted in association with the  ABC's 7.30 Report - can also reveal that customs is investigating about  100 criminal allegations involving its staff - the highest number in the  agency's history - and has received more than 1300 allegations of misconduct  since 2008.

It has also emerged that acting Customs Service CEO Michael Pezzullo was  frozen out of parts of the federal police's probe into corruption at Sydney  Airport because his brother, a customs officer, works and associates with  several members of the allegedly corrupt customs airport cell.

■Dozens of pages of sensitive customs documents were leaked to a crime  syndicate controlled by drug and illegal tobacco smuggler Mohamad Jomaa, who ran  a syndicate that boasted of having several contacts inside customs.

■A joint police taskforce has identified up to 12 suspected corrupt customs  officials working on NSW's maritime border security, adding to the cell of 15  allegedly corrupt officers at Sydney Airport, including some still working  there.

■Employees of Menzies Aviation Services with federal government security  clearances  are being investigated over their links to alleged drug trafficking  within customs. Menzies provides baggage handling services at the airport.

The smuggled handguns were identified by a police operation codenamed Otford,  which discovered that the guns were smuggled in engine parts that a small number  of customs officers falsely claimed they had scanned. Further investigations  found that the officers falsified paperwork to give the engine parts the  all-clear.

While the customs officers were caught lying about their failure to scan the  container, there is no evidence they knew it contained guns.

It is unclear if any of the smuggled guns, which included four semi-automatic  pistols recovered by police, were used in any of Sydney's spate of gangland  killings.

Customs has dealt with the case as a matter of misconduct and incompetence  and said in a statement that the officers involved had been subject to "code of  conduct provisions" and in October "received remedial training and workplace  counselling".

However, senior NSW police are believed to have been furious about customs'  role in the affair, especially after it followed a string of so-called  "misdetections" by customs staff of drug shipments.

Regarding the ongoing airport probe, there is no suggestion that Mr  Pezzullo's brother is involved in corruption. (Fairfax made several attempts  to contact Mr Pezzullo's brother but was not successful.)

One of the aspects of the probe is whether customs staff not involved in  corruption nevertheless knew that some of their colleagues may have had  inappropriate associations or may have been engaged in questionable behaviour in  or outside of work hours. At least four  customs officers still working at  Sydney Airport attended the  court case of an allegedly drug-using officer  without informing their bosses.

Asked about his brother's relationship with suspected corrupt customs  officials, Mr Pezzullo said: "I was advised by the previous CEO that I was to be  excluded from all briefings and information related to allegations concerning  possible corrupt activities at Sydney Airport on the basis that I had a family  member who worked at the airport."

Of the suspected corrupt customs officers on the waterfront identified by the  joint-agency Polaris taskforce, several are suspected to be involved in  facilitating illegal tobacco or drug importations.

A confidential Polaris report from this year states that the Customs  Examination Facility at Port Botany has been "infiltrated" by criminals.

"Polaris investigations demonstrate links between CEF staff [including  customs officers] and criminal syndicates which are involved in the importation  of illicit drugs and tobacco into Australia," it says.

One of the customs officials suspected to be aiding maritime drug and tobacco  importations was allowed access to highly sensitive information despite having  two brothers known to NSW police as drug traffickers.

This officer was also one of at least two customs staff with strong ties to a  crime syndicate led by convicted drug trafficker Mohamad Jomaa, as well as to  two alleged tobacco smugglers who are currently before court and are facing  charges of bribing a third customs official.

Asked about the suspected corrupt customs officer with links to Mohamad  Jomaa, Mr Pezzullo told Fairfax that he "chose to resign while customs … was  making an assessment of his suitability to continue to hold a security  clearance".

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/smuggled-guns-customs-officers-lied-about-scan-20121220-2bplc.html#ixzz2FcnwcLFF

 And thanks to reader Jim for the tip and this commentary on Jason Clare's performance on ABC's 7.30 last night.

Chris Uhlmann hammered Clare of his neglect and asked him why nothing had been done depite numerous reports warning of the fiasco. The irony is that similar questions could have been asked of him about the PM’s involvement in the AWU fraud and the shameful series of cover-ups and he would have been force into embarrassing denials and blather. Australian Customs have been plagued with allegations of corruption for decades. It is also a mistake to single Customs out.  Customs works cheek by jowl with other federal and state law enforcement agencies and there is no way as yet to measure how far the contamination has spread. One danger is the influence of unions, especially the CPSU in neutralising attempts to rid Customs of its crooks through wholesale sackings which must include incompetent or incapable managers and senior executives; and not just the few low level scapegoats. When you have a tainted PM there is no will emanating from the very top of the nation to stamp out the evil of organised crime capturing or infecting law enforcement. Until the election the nation needs anyone but Julia “I have decided to take control” Gillard as Prime Minister. She must be ousted by the appalling weaklings in Caucus.



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Where it Started

Gillard & the AWU scandal

Interview with Bob Kernohan