Contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence reports on the links between convicted drug dealer Tony Mokbel and the National Australia Bank.
It came as no surprise to anyone in the Supreme Court of Victoria on Tuesday, when Kuwaiti-born Antonios ‘Fat Tony’ Sajih Mokbel, so named because he is more overbelly than underbelly, learned from Justice Simon Whelan that he would be blowing out the candles on his 47th birthday cake next month, behind bars in Barwon Prison.
And another 29 birthdays after that, unless the industrial strength drug manufacturer and narcotics sales rep behaves himself and qualifies for an effective non-parole period of 22 years — two years less than his life expectancy, according to one doctor.
Or unless he meets the same fate as his late mate Carl Williams in Barwon.
Bub-faced Williams was pulverised to dead meat with a metal bar wielded by his own cellmate (go figure), the brutal recidivist offender Matthew Johnson in full view of, and clearly indifferent to, an observation camera; a horror movie right there on the CCTV.
But no-one was shocked out of their minds.
Johnson was obviously without fear of being interrupted, even going for a few victory laps after the killing in the yard with fellow cellmate and weasely acolyte, Tommy Ivanovic (go figure again) before interrupting a female prison attendant who might have been reading her horoscope or line dancing, or whatever is the designated prison warden pastime in Barwon’s Acacia maximum security unit, whilst inmates bludgeon one another to death.
The ever helpful Johnson suggested she should press the alarm bell for Williams.
Yes folks, that’s the State of Victoria for you. Not only do our prisoners openly kill their cellmates, they also have the good grace to drag the corpse back to its prison cell before they give the prison guardette the heads up.
Mokbel, too, is housed in Barwon’s Acacia MSU. Mind you, it did not escape our irony to hear His Honour say, in the light of Mokbel’s medical condition, that prison officers were trained in Level 1 First Aid.
A fat lot of good that did Carl Williams — let alone the cold comfort it might bring Fat Tony.
His Honour told Mokbel that
“You are monitored when out of your cell and there is a distress button in your cell.”
Er…not always your Honour. Who watches the watchers? No one, it seems.
Fat Tony is known to police and our headlines for many things and Justice Whelan reminded us of some of them.
Who can forget him absconding from Australia whilst on bail (go figure again).
We’re very lax about such things in Victoria.
We always give a mother sucker an even break.
Anyhow Mr Mokbel, as befitting a man of his status and discretion, got himself a yacht and sailed away for a year and a day or two to Greece, the land where the bongs and olive trees also grow.
Fat Tony took some honey, and plenty of money, with which he bought a big hair silly wig that made him look like a dork.
He grew a beard that was greasier than his reputation.
Given his Lebanese background, he looked as Greek as Demis Roussos — who was actually born in Alexandria.
All in all, for a time it was to prove a perfect disguise. Until Fat Tony was arrested five years ago on June 6 in Athens.
Mokbel fought extradition from Greece tooth and wig and it wasn’t until May 17, 2008 that he was escorted back home, finally touching down at Tullamarine Airport under armed escort in a plane paid for by the Australian taxpayer.
The Mokbel saga has cost Victoria millions of dollars — a piddling amount compared with the costs and havoc this self-serving drug seller has wrought upon the lives of thousands of Australians and their families.
It would be difficult to calculate the number of deaths of young and older people from drugs sourced and supplied by this Merchant of Menace.
Let us add suicides and accidental overdose to that ever increasing list. And not just immediate victims, either.
There are the babies who are born junkies.
If you have never heard a newly born babe screaming in withdrawal agony, you are indeed lucky.
It is a primal scream that forever haunts those who hear it.
Perhaps these screams should be included in victim impact statements before the courts. They might go some way to informing the community that not everyone who is on drugs gives informed consent.
Whilst Fat Tony had no compunction in dealing in drugs, by all accounts, he was not a user or in
the slightest way bothered by infant addicts. No try before you buy for Mokbel.
Perhaps aspects of his Christian upbringing prevailed; do unto others that which you wouldn’t do to yourself.
But Mokbel was also a compulsive gambler and became a drug dealer to fuel this obsession. He got his highs, and presumably his lows, through this addiction of another kind.
Justice Whelan’s sentencing also provided a pocketbook bio on the Mokbel story so far.
We learned that Antonios arrived in Australia when he was 8 years old. Both parents were to work in factories and His Honour told us they were illiterate, as indeed, many migrants continue to be — and as are many of us, who are lazily trafficked through our education and prison systems.
Mokbel’s own literacy skills were described by Whelan as “limited”.
His father died of a heart attack on Mokbel’s 15th birthday — after which, we are told, he left school never to return.
Earlier this year, Fat Tony had a stent inserted, after suffering a mild heart attack whilst in custody; coronary heart disease being a family trait.
It seems the teenage Mokbel had trouble adjusting to his father’s death and, according to Consultant Forensic Psychologist Ms Wendy Northey, his early criminal record
“is largely indicative of an angry, largely oppositionally defiant young man with anti-social traits and poor emotional regulation at times.”
In Court, Her Majesty the Queen was defended in this Diamond Jubilee year against her recalcitrant subject Mokbel, by her solicitors at the Office of Public Prosecutions and Counsels, Mr Peter Kidd SC and Ms Fran Dalziel.
HRH was not in attendance.
After Whelan’s sentencing of Mokbel, it didn’t take very long for his Wikipedia entry to be updated, as befitting a kingpin drug pusher and tribal punk elevated to celebrity status via Victoria’s ‘Gangland Wars’, the deep pockets of Victoria Police’s incompetence and corruption and at times a combination of both.
I have more than a passing interest in Fat Tony’s exploits and his dealings with the National Australia Bank.
For some months, I have been investigating and documenting the corrupt conduct and abuse of process and collusion by the NAB, McKean Park Lawyers and the Bankruptcy Trustee they appointed.
Readers will be aware that in a home invasion of my home and regional office in Daylesford, all of my personal possessions were stolen, among them every single box of office files and projects representing a number of investigative projects and a number of documentaries in pre-production.
In a frenzy of looting, even load bearing fittings were ripped out of the home, others left half-hanging on the walls. Curtains, curtain rods, blinds, garden hoses, tools, fire screens, even lightbulbs were illegally seized, including preserves and food in the fridge, the lawnmower and
the backyard bulldozed and old apple and apricot trees ripped out and pipes damaged as a consequence.
Those investigative files included documents, transcripts, tape recordings, memory sticks, video footage and interviews concerning National Australia Bank loans to Tony Mokbel and criminal associates and ventures and other gangland figures.
These loans amounted to multimillion dollar sums, knowingly lent to gangland and underworld players, many of whom had notched up convictions and prison sentences.
For some time, the National Australia Bank has been aware that I had this material.
The NAB is aware that I gathered extensive information and statements from whistleblowers and past and present employees.
It has busied itself ‘cleansing’ the internet from numerous references about the Mokbel and other loans to criminals and indeed wiping from the net, the NAB’s own fraudulent activities in Australia and elsewhere and, make no mistake — there are many such recorded incidents.
It is a pity that it has the words ‘ National Australia’ before ‘Bank’, because so often it is wrongly assumed overseas that this means the NAB is our government’s national bank.
Only recently, on April 1 this year, forensic financial analyst Lynton Freeman, himself a litigant in person against the NAB, revealed in his investigative article headlined ‘National Australia Bank redacts website to hide customer refunds’ on Independent Australia that the NAB sneakily redacts even its own website.
But it was no April Fools’ Day joke on unwitting customers and shareholders.
This time the NAB was caught out, when a ‘before’ webpage frame was captured and compared with the ‘after.’
One well known criminal identity informed me ‘the NAB was our bank of choice’ because “they asked no questions and filled out the forms for us and wrote their own references for us”.
Indeed they did.
In an article written by The Australian’s Natasha Robinson on September 30, 2007, headlined ‘Banker praised Mokbel’s integrity’ the extent of such helpful support of Mokbel by NAB bank managers, was exposed in these words:
‘Tony Mokbel’s integrity was praised in a series of credit reports that convinced National Australia Bank (NAB) to lend the drug baron $A5.7m. As police investigated Mokbel for the production of amphetamines, NAB business banking manager Ken Collins stated in internal documents that Mokbel’s wealth was the result of his success as a professional gambler. NAB lent Mokbel $A5.7m mostly in the late 1990s for real estate developments and his failed fashion venture. He had convictions for receiving…’
The NAB, of course, is notorious for its creative writing and fictitious court documents.
I can’t find the rest of the article at the time of going to press, but Natasha says it all anyway.
I can vouch that there were once numerous references and links to this article, but now – curiously – up comes the ubiquitous ‘page deleted’ tag every time I try to access the story. Give it a go yourself.
Sometimes the crims got high profile figures to write references on their behalf.
Sometimes these dudes were lawyers, sometimes they were politicians.
Tony Mokbel hit the referee jackpot when he got two for the price of one in then Shadow Attorney
General Kelvin Thomson, who, despite never having met Mokbel, nonetheless wrote him a reference on the vouching of a solicitor.
On March 9, 2007, AAP (Australian Associated Press) helped all potential CV writers and referees by publishing in full, Thomson’s reference.
Text of Kelvin Thomson’s reference for Tony Mokbel, dated 31st August, 2000:
To Whom It May Concern,
I have been asked to provide a reference on behalf of Mr Tony Mokbel of 25 Grandview Avenue, Pascoe Vale South, who will be submitting his application for a liquor licence to the Liquor Licensing Commission.
I understand that Mr Mokbell (sic) has been married for the past eight years and has two children. I further understand that over the past eight years he has been a responsible caring husband and father.
Mr Mokbel has in partnership purchased a number of business properties in the Brunswick area. As a result of his business and property ventures Mr Mokbel is making a significant contribution to the community and employing a substantial number of people.
I urge you to take into account Mr Mokbel’s last years of unblemished conduct, his commitment to family and his successful establishment as a local businessman in making your decision concerning his application.
Kelvin Thomson, MP
Member for Wills
The hapless Mr Thomson under the zero-tolerance standards of his Leader, Kevin Rudd, was compelled to resign over the Mokbel(l) reference.
In his famous article in the much respected Counterpunch on December 12 that same year, political economist Professor Evan Jones wrote a scathing expose about the National Australia Bank.
His article was a landmark victory for truth telling and it says much about the bleak stranglehold that the NAB has on much of the Australian media, that the Professor’s article was first published on a US-based website.
On the Mokbel matter, Jones wrote:
“In the late 1990s, NAB lent a certain Tony Mokbel A$5.7 million to pursue various business interests. The suburban Melbourne bank manager’s credit reports described Mokbel thus: ‘Visionary Mokbel’s integrity is beyond reproach Business associates hold Mokbel in the highest esteem’. Part of the credit involved unauthorized overdrafts and an unsecured loan. Mokbel was arrested in 2001 on drugs charges and his assets frozen, prompting NAB to review its credit evaluation. Mokbel, described by the media as ‘the state’s most prolific amphetamines manufacturer’, fled Australia and is currently fighting extradition from Greece.”
The materials and personal possessions that the NAB and McKean Park have stolen from me contain highly sensitive and confidential information.
I have serious concerns about the extent that the National Australia Bank, McKean Park and its sordid team of bottom feeders, will go to, to protect themselves.
I am concerned for the safety and wellbeing of my informants and sources and the brave whistleblowers who entrusted me with this information.
I am concerned for their friends and families.
Other material of mine was also stolen by the Law Institute of Victoria from the suburban offices of solicitor Ross Delahunty. Acting for the Law Institute of Victoria is none other than McKean Park Lawyers, who are also on several Law Institute committees.
On May 9 last year, at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, I was subjected to death threats and attempts to get me to change my evidence by a lawyer for McKean Park.
These both can constitute criminal offences.
The death threats and the thefts were reported to Victoria Police. Potential witnesses have not even been interviewed.
The Federal Court in Victoria persists in its refusal to ensure I am provided with a correct and complete transcript of a hearing before his Honour Justice Jessup on January 31 this year.
Despite repeated emails, phone calls and letters, I am still waiting for this transcript, given it has
information critical to my bankruptcy annulment and court matters.
Their Honours Justice Nettle and Kyrou, in the Court of Appeal on February 24, informed me that I was in the wrong jurisdiction and redirected me back to the Federal Court explaining that they had to refuse the application.
It was the Federal Court that misdirected me, insisting first that I had no avenue to appeal Jessup’s decision to refuse a late appeal (I think I was 11 days over) and then said I had to go to the High Court; when the High Court, incredulous at this, despatched me back to the Federal Court, the Federal Court insisted I had to go to the Court of Appeal.
However, their Honours adjourned the case sine die. But that fact is not on the Court records. Why not?
It is an unpleasant thing to find a dead rat and faeces in your letterbox and to get repulsive messages and threats.
Threats to me are one thing. Threats to others because of me and stories I am writing and campaigns I am involved with, are quite another thing altogether.
The National Australia Bank is on public notice that I refuse to be silenced by their thuggery and their constant and irritating, intimidating stalking and photo-taking.
I have no compunction in saying the NAB has lied to the Court. I will not use the phrase
‘misled’ the Court, because I have proof that they knowingly lied to the Court.
Further, in the shocking Matt Norman case, I have witnessed in Court not only outrageous abuses of process and unacceptable conduct from court practitioners and staff – but from Justice Judd himself. As did the dozens of Norman supporters in Court that day.
I will reveal more about the NAB, Tony Mokbel and the NAB’s other gangland/criminal relationships in due course.
It is time, now, for a national inquiry into the activities and conduct and corporate culture of the National Australia Bank.
It might well kid itself and some of its customers and shareholders that it is the fourth pillar of banking in Australia.
You can con some of the people some of the time but you can’t con all of the people all of the time.
As the NAB itself says ‘KNOW YOUR ENEMY’.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License