EXCLUSIVE: Audio has been leaked to True Crime News Weekly of the very moment Border Force officials promised a whistleblower detained in immigration detention he would be immediately deported after he blew the lid off an explosive alleged “bribes for visas” corruption scandal now enveloping the scandal-ridden Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton. Serkan Ozturk with this investigation.
Earlier this week, on Monday, February 18, a story broke out in the mainstream media of an alleged “bribes for visas” scheme involving organised crime figures and corrupt individuals with high-level access to Peter Dutton’s Home Affairs office.
It was alleged that sometime in 2017 convicted drugs trafficker, William Sualauvi Betham, had given a bribe of $80,000 to a contact in Brisbane who could get back his cancelled visa. On August 22, 2017, Betham was for some reason released. His lawyer, Jennifer Samuta, has told media this week that Betham was released on humanitarian grounds to look after his wife and child.
Samuta told Nine newspapers that Betham “denies offering a monetary payment to any official who might be in a position to reinstate his visa, or to an official who might be able to impact a similar decision”.
She also says that Betham further denies “bragging to fellow detainees at Christmas Island that he could get his visa back for a monetary payment after it was mandatorily cancelled”.
Convicted drugs trafficker William Sualauvi Betham who for some reason was not deported despite being a member of a highly organised drugs syndicate (Image: Facebook / Supplied)
According to media reports, Samuta has apparently got four other drugs traffickers off in a similar way, all of whom were also facing deportation.
Betham was in immigration detention and due to be deported to his native New Zealand after his visa had been cancelled automatically on character grounds under Section 501(s) of the Migration Act. The laws had been toughened up by Dutton only in February 2015, who told media at the time:
“Essentially [the law] provides for a mandated arrangement for visas to be cancelled for people who had a conviction of 12 months or more imprisonment, or for people who have been here on a visa and have been convicted of a sexual offence against a child,” the Home Affairs Minister said.
“It confers a power on the minister to, in the national interest, decide that a visa should be cancelled of somebody who, for example, had been involved in a serious crime.
“It may be that they’ve been involved in trafficking of illicit drugs, it may be that they’ve been involved in gang rapes or it may be that they’ve been involved in sexual assaults of another nature.”
Betham was placed into immigration detention in 2016 directly after serving an eight-and-a-half year sentence for being part of an organised drugs trafficking network involved in the widespread distribution of MDMA and cocaine.
According to court documents, Betham would purchase at least 5,000 MDMA pills at any one time, with his network regularly raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars. Such was the seriousness of his drugs offending, it was an investigation by the Australian Crime Commission which brought Betham down in 2006. His court case was only finalised two years later, and in 2008 he received a sentence with a maximum 10 years imprisonment.
The unusual story of Betham’s strange escape from deportation had started gaining traction just under a fortnight ago after a student held in Western Australia’s Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre published a long post on the Medium blogging site.
The article was titled: ‘Dutton’s Secret Drug Cartel Connection: The William Betham Case’.
Curiously, True Crime News Weekly has discovered that Betham shut down his Facebook account just a day or two after the Medium post was published.
After Independent Australia ran a short story on February 13 analysing the man’s claims, five days later on February 18, Nine newspapers published the whistleblower’s claims in an article titled ‘Hundreds of foreign criminals are being handed back their cancelled visas’.
On the same day the article was published, the whistleblower is said to have been visited by Border Force officials wanting to immediately deport him.
Green Senator Nick McKim questions Australian Border Force commissioner Michael Outram why the detainee who levelled the bribery allegations had been told on Monday, February 18 that he was to be deported. It was only earlier on the same day that mainstream media had reported on the man’s corruption claims.
When questioned by Greens Senator Nick McKim at a Senates Estimates hearing late on Monday, February 18, about the coincidence of the whistleblower being threatened with deportation on the same day his claims hit the mainstream media, Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram said:
“The idea that we’d react within within 24 hours to a media article to remove someone from the country I’d find remarkable”
Home Affairs has since said it has launched an investigation into the whistleblower’s claims.
However, True Crime News Weekly can now reveal the “remarkable” audio that proves that Border Force indeed visited the man to discuss his “removal” from Australia just hours after his explosive claims hit the mainstream media.
LISTEN HERE TO THE LEAKED AUDIO OF BORDER FORCE OFFICIALS THREATENING A WHISTLEBLOWER WITH DEPORTATION
The whistleblower claims the deportation order was in direct retribution for revealing the alleged corruption occurring within the department and so as to hobble any investigation before it began.
According to the leaked recording, a Border Force official by the name of ‘Brad’ tells the whistleblower that the orders for his removal have “possibly” come from high up within the department.
Betham, meanwhile, is living as a free man somewhere in Queensland, believed to be the Gold Coast.
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32-year-old Commerce student Nauroze Anees has been in immigration detention for almost three years now. One day in October 2016, he heard a knock on the door of the Melbourne apartment he shared with his wife.
“I was wondering who it could be as we live in a secured building,” Nauroze told True Crime News Weekly earlier this week from Yongah Hill Detention Centre in Western Australia.
“You need a key card to get in. I thought it was one of my neighbours.”
The knock was from Border Force officials. After confirming his identity, the officers then took Nauroze away to what would be a succession of stays in different detention centres, including Christmas Island.
“They move you around to try break your spirit and to make it hard for any friends or family to visit,” Nauroze tells True Crime News Weekly.
Having come over from Pakistan in 2007 originally under a student visa, his visa was nullified in 2011 due to non-compliance. Nauroze had met a woman who he fell in love with, but his studies began to fall by the wayside as he became a carer for his partner who has complex mental health concerns. Fighting homelessness, Nauroze would end up committing a series of petty crimes before being arrested and found guilty of recklessly causing injury. He was sentenced to three months in jail – his only term of imprisonment.
Pakistani student and immigration detention whistleblower, Nauroze Anees, with members of his legal team fighting moves to deport him from Australia (Image: Supplied)
While deeply remorseful about his actions, Nauroze says the most serious charge against him which resulted in jail time came about as a result of an incident at a cinema involving up to eight youths who began intimidating his partner. He told True Crime News Weekly his lawyer at the time suggested he plead guilty to avoid waiting over a year on remand.
“I wish now that I never pleaded guilty and fought the charges,” Nauroze says.
“My partner was also charged but she plead not guilty and the CCTV used in her case proved it was self-defence. I think that I too would have been found innocent in court.”
After his release from prison in 2013, Nauroze had been living in the community with his partner free of any criminal or other trouble for almost four years. Until, that is, the knock on the door from Border Force in 2016 after his attempts for a partner visa had been rejected, despite being his partner’s primary carer.
Interestingly, a few months following his prison release, Nauroze went to the media after being racially harassed by a Victoria Police officer at a suburban railway station while with his father. The officer asked to see Nauroze’s ID because apparently he looked like a terrorist. The incident left his father “freaking out and crying”, according to a report in the Herald-Sun of the incident in July 2013. Nauroze has never been on any terror watch list. The then-Commissioner of Victoria Police, Ken Lay, later admitted the force had a racism problem.
While in immigration detention, the Home Affairs department has previously recommended to the minister’s office that Nauroze be considered for a bridging visa, but that was rejected.
Just a week ago, Pakistan’s High Commission made an unusual intervention in the case, calling for the Australian Government to offer early redress to Nauroze.
“This overstretched and uncomfortably prolonged detention has been causing him and his partner a lot of discomfort, mental stress and hardships,” the high commission said.
“It is pertinent to mention here that his partner, an Australian citizen, is suffering from severe mental challenges and Mr Anees is her only support and carer.”
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Nauroze Anees is the whistleblower who has made the claims of a “bribes for visas” scheme operating within high levels of the Home Affairs department. In the case of William Betham, Nauroze sensationally alleges it was Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton himself who signed off on the decision to reinstate the convicted drugs trafficker’s visa.
According to Nauroze, while both were in the Christmas Island Detention Centre, Betham had bragged to him about being released soon because he had paid an official with high-level links to the Home Affairs office.
“He [Betham] would get all sorts of favours while in immigration because he knew a senior Serco manager at Christmas Island from his time in the New Zealand Army,” Nauroze explains to True Crime News Weekly.
“One day, I accidentally walked into his room while looking for another person to come to the gym with me. And there was this white powder on his table. Betham looked very happy and alert.”
When asked if he believes the drug was cocaine, Nauroze says immigration detention centres are awash with drugs as detainees try to deal with the Kafkaesque nightmare of being shuffled from detention centre to the next, while fearing deportation at any time.
“The Serco guards are notorious for running a drugs trade across all the onshore detention centres,” Nauroze says.
“Almost all the drugs in detention centres is because of guards bringing it in and selling it to those stuck inside.”
Embattled Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is facing questions of possible widespread corruption within his department (Image:Wikipedia)
A video leaked to SBS just last week from Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre seems to back up Nauroze’s claims. Groups of detainees can be viewed pretty openly consuming a range of intoxicants and pharmaceuticals. Drugs such as methamphetamine and cannabis as well as cocaine and ecstasy are said to be easily available inside after being smuggled in by guards employed by Serco.
While in Betham’s room, Nauroze says he was shocked with what the convicted drugs trafficker told him next.
“He said not to bother with filing appeals and going through court. He told me he was going to get out soon and have his visa back because he paid $80,000 to a contact in Brisbane who could arrange everything. He told me if I had the money, that I should do it too. I couldn’t believe it.”
Nauroze says he knows of at least one other detainee who paid to get his visa back. That man claimed to Nauroze that Betham’s suggestion of $80,000 was a “rip off”, as he knew people who could help get a visa back after paying a $70,000 bribe.
Nauroze tells True Crime News Weekly he has been threatened by some detainees, who are now upset with him for revealing the inner workings of how some criminals are allegedly getting back their visas.
Convicted paedophile rapist, Ivan Abela, who is awaiting deportation to Malta is apparently not happy about the “bribes for visas” scandal being publicised (Image: Twitter / Supplied)
One of those threats to Nauroze came from the notorious convicted paedophile rapist, Ivan Abela, who used social media to send him a message alleging he was “a dog”. Abela, who raped a mother and her 12-year-daughter in 2003, is currently awaiting deportation to Malta.
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The police operation against Betham and his associates was led by the Australian Crime Commission. Following its merging with CrimTrack in July 2016, the Crime Commision was renamed as the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), and placed under the auspices of the new wide-ranging Home Affairs portfolio. The minister responsible for the changes was of course, our friend Peter Dutton.
Now, it’s definitely an extremely odd occurrence that Dutton allegedly signed off to allow a dangerous and big-time drugs trafficker to stay in Australia. He has always publicly proclaimed to be tough on drugs, tough on crime, tough on thugs, tough on foreigners breaking the law. One wonders what officers attached to the former Crime Commission turned ACIC think of the decision to not deport Betham.
Before entering politics, Dutton was a police officer in Queensland, and for a fair while was attached to its drugs department. Dutton left the force in 1999 just a short time before he was up for 10-year service and the benefits that go with that. One of his colleagues at the time was future Operation Sovereign Borders commander, the controversial Roman Quaedvlieg who lost that job last year over claims he had helped his much younger girlfriend, Sarah Rogers, score a job within Border Force without alerting others to their close relationship.
Late yesterday evening, Dutton released a statement denying the claims of a “bribes for visas” scheme operating within Australia’s onshore detention centres as “entirely false”. Which is a pretty odd thing to state, when the Home Affairs department has confirmed a supposed investigation has only just commenced.
“I was not a decision maker in the matter in question,” Dutton said in the statement.
“Neither did the matter come to my office for consideration. It was decided by an official in the Department.”
It’s not the first time a senior Liberal Party politician has been allegedly involved in the granting of a visa to a highly questionable character.
Former Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone who decided to give a visa to notorious Calabrian Mafia figure, Frank Madafferi, who soon after would go onto be implicated in and jailed for serious offences such as drugs trafficking and murder (Image: Wikipedia)
In 2005, then-Immigration Minster Amanda Vanstone decided to give a visa on humanitarian grounds to senior Calabrian Mafia figure, Francesco ‘Frank’ Madafferi, so that he could remain in Australia with his wife and children. Madafferi had been in immigration detention since 1997 after it was discovered he had overstayed his visa by six years, after entering Australia in 1989 where he soon married a local woman. By the year 2000, Vanstone’s predecessor, Philip Ruddock, had ordered Madafferi to be deported due to his extensive links to organised crime as well as his criminal history in his native Italy.
Vanstone’s intervention in the case came after Madafferi had exhausted all his legal avenues after years of appeals and petitions to the Federal Court. From about 2003-2005, it is believed though that associates tied to the Madafferi family donated tens of thousands of dollars which was funneled into the Liberal Party’s notorious Millenium Forum fund. Vanstone and three other Liberal MPs involved in lobbying on behalf of Madafferi have denied any wrongdoing.
Just a year-and-a-half after Vanstone gave Frank Madafferi his visa, he was then implicated in what was then regarded as the world’s biggest ecstasy drugs importation. Police claim the bust was worth about $440 million. In 2008, he was charged with drug trafficking, for which he was later jailed, and in 2009, with conspiracy to murder. Madafferi is due to be deported from Australia when his prison sentence is served. However there are now fears his sentence could be ruled as null and void thanks to the Lawyer X Scandal in Victoria, which saw police using high-profile criminal lawyers as covert informants for years.
Italian organised crime figure, Frank Madafferi, who received his visa after tens of thousands of dollars were donated to the Liberal Party about 15 years ago. Madafferi is now back in prison over serious drugs charges (Image: SMH)
Frank Madafferi is the brother of well-known Melbourne market grocer and restaurant owner, Antonio (Tony) Madafferi, who Victoria Police allege is the head of that city’s Mafia. Tony Madafferi has never been charged with a crime and he strenuously denies any wrongdoing or connections to organised crime. However, he has been banned from all Victorian race tracks and casinos by the police.
According to The Age, “in the early 2000s, police intelligence linking Mr Madafferi to allegations of ‘murder, gunshot wounding and arson’ was detailed in court but vehemently denied by Mr Madafferi. Prior to that, he was named as a suspected hitman in two coronial inquests in the 1990s”.
Tony Madafferi is also of course the infamous dining partner of the lobster swallowing former Victorian Liberal Party leader and current state MP, Matthew Guy.
* * * * *
Asked why he has now decided to publicly reveal his concerns about a corrupt “bribes for visas” schemes operating in Australia, Nauroze says it’s just a matter of basic fairness and respect for the law.
“There are people here in immigration detention with me who are Rohingya refugees. There are plenty of people across Australia detained longer than Betham when they haven’t even committed a crime,” Nauroze says.
“Why aren’t they let out?
“Where is the fairness? The transparency? The democratic process? What happened to the Australian idea of a fair go?”
Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre in Western Australia where whistleblower Nauroze Anees is currently being held (Image: Wikipedia)
If Nauroze’s claims are to be believed, combined with the Paladin Affair which True Crime News Weekly has also been investigating, it seems that a system of graft, corruption and money laundering is operating across Australia’s immigration and asylum seeker detention centres.
It is likely costing the Australian taxpayer billions of dollars, while certain wily and perhaps corrupt individuals connected to the Federal Government are enriching themselves to a great extent, and almost certainly paying little tax back too.
It is the financial flipside to the industrial and institutional torture apparatus that has seen widespread deaths and even the murder of asylum seekers in recent years.
It is why True Crime News Weekly, just like leading independent outlet Crikey has done so earlier this month, is now calling for a Royal Commission into the Australian government’s handling of immigration matters.
We are also calling for the immediate dismantling of Peter Dutton’s Home Affairs office due to gross conflicts of interest.
The case of William Betham and serious allegations of corruption within the Home Affairs department is also yet another clear reason for the immediate formation of a strong, independent anti-corruption commission.
“I know I will be punished by Dutton and others for speaking out, but it’s the truth and the Australian public needs to know,” Nauroze says.