Friday, 12 December 2014

The gold bar, the standover man and the bothersome detective - new charges laid as Lazar bail application continues

ANOTHER court date, another legal team and, it seems, another suite of new charges - that's how the torturous bail application of accused fraudster Ian Lazar is playing out with today's proceedings adjourned as new defense lawyer - Brian Wrench from Murphy's Lawyers - indicated that his client would attempt to have the bail application heard in the NSW Supreme Court before Christmas.

The prosecution had news for the Court too, in the form of five new charges to go with those that put Lazar in custody in the first place. These include obtaining money by deception; knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime; two counts of conspiring to intimidate a police officer, and one count of conspiring to make a collusive agreement with a member of the NSW Police.

Lazar hasn't entered a plea on the new charges but has pleaded not guilty to the original charges relating to defrauding an elderly woman out of her North Coast home back in 2003. However the charges put before the Court today - fortified by the police statement of facts obtained by Sydney Insolvency News - combine to create an amazing tale which began when police pulled over a black BMW on Trafalgar Street, Annandale on August 8, 2012 at 8:55pm.

It's not disclosed why police stopped the car. But according to the fact sheet they hit the jackpot. On checking identities of the car's three occupants they discovered the driver was a suspected drug dealer with links to outlaw bikie gangs. Then they conducted a search of the vehicle. Beside the passenger in the back seat - a gentleman identified by police as Arlo Selby - was a black bag, inside which the officers found a solid gold bar valued at $49,000. Under questioning Selby told police the gold belonged to Lazar.

When the 43 year old dealer in distressed debt was contacted by police he confirmed he was the owner. The police asked that he bring in confirmation of ownership and created a case file, which was allotted to Detective Senior Constable David Roberts. What the detective did not know at the time was that Lazar was already the subject of a covert investigation by detectives from the NSW Fraud and Cybercrime Division named Strike Force McMaster. And the McMaster Detectives were listening to Lazar's telephone conversations.

As Senior Detective Constable Roberts pursued Lazar to authenticate his ownership of the gold bar, Lazar's frustrations mounted, frustrations which he vented by phone to various associates, one of whom was given to engaging alleged standover man Helal Safi as a debt collector. According to the fact sheet, the prosecution will allege that Lazar paid tens of thousands of dollars to Safi to either assault or corrupt Detective Roberts.

Incredibly though, according to the fact sheet Safi, who provided Strike Force McMaster detectives with a statement on November 27, ended up being paid $104, 000 by Lazar despite neither  assaulting or corrupting Detective Roberts or even attempting to do so.

Lazar allegedly paid $55,000 upfront. Then, when Roberts was quietly requested to slow down on Lazar by a colleague because of the Strike Force McMaster investigation, Lazar mistakenly attributed the drop off in pressure from Roberts as the product of Safi's influence. And Safi was more than smart enough to keep shtum when Lazar allegedly told him: "no more phone calls. They've even moved the guy from his position". It was sufficient proof for Lazar, who then paid the second amount of $49,000.

The matter is due to return to the Central Local Court on Thursday, December 18, 2014.

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