Sunday, July 29, 2007

Australia: Corrupt Policeman, Nigerian Scam Links

Concerns on corrupt officer ignored
Geesche Jacobsen | July 2, 2007

A COLLEAGUE raised concerns about the fraud detective Con Kostakidis more than two years before he was charged by the Police Integrity Commission, but police dismissed his allegations.
Kostakidis, who was sentenced six weeks ago for fraud over a colleague's mortgage application, has since been allowed to resign.
But the commission is investigating further allegations against him, including those raised by a former colleague from the state crime command's asset confiscation unit nearly three years ago.
In 2004 the former colleague, who does not want to be named, wrote a report about perceived problems with Kostakidis's investigation of a Nigerian email scam.
Soon afterwards the officer alleged he was being harassed in the unit.
He has since left the police after a dispute about his contract. When applying for jobs he has been told his previous managers have accused him of disloyalty. He fears he is being victimised.
The whistleblower's claims included concerns about the seizure of assets in the investigation of the Nigerian scam, in which victims contacted by email paid a man, Nick Marinellis, processing or banking fees.
Kostakidis headed the investigation. After charging Marinellis, the asset confiscation unit said it had seized $1.5 million of his assets. But the whistleblower predicted many of these assets, including a house covered by a mortgage, could not be seized and would yield no money for police because they had not been bought with money from his victims. He said Kostakidis had failed to seize other assets bought with victims' funds.
The whistleblower said some of the dealings between Marinellis and a man called Viron Hondros should be investigated. The Herald previously revealed that, within days of Marinellis being sentenced, Kostakidis started business dealings with Mr Hondros and two of his daughters. Mr Hondros, a self-styled mortgage broker, is now bankrupt. Neither he nor his daughters have been charged.
Kostakidis ran an Oxford Street cafe believed to have previously been seized by the police. It is at this cafe that he claimed to have employed the wife of a colleague, who is yet to face court, to help their application for a mortgage.
The Police Integrity Commission is believed to be still investigating the handling of the Nigerian scam and other matters raised by the whistleblower. It is also overseeing an internal police investigation into the handling of his original complaints.
Five months after the original complaint to the professional standards unit, it dismissed concerns about the asset confiscation unit's management. But other concerns, including those about Kostakidis, were not addressed.
Nearly a year after the initial complaint - about seven months after Kostakidis established dealings with Mr Hondros - the concerns about the Nigerian investigation were referred to the fraud squad boss, Superintendent Col Dyson, who found no basis for them.
Five weeks later, in August 2005, Mr Dyson awarded the head of the asset confiscation unit the "outstanding performer award" for the seizure assets from the Nigerian investigation.
A spokeswoman for the state crime command could not tell the Herald how much money was recovered from the Nigerian scam. She said the whistleblower's original complaint did not contain allegations about that investigation. Because a new complaint was being investigated, police would comment no further.
A spokesman for the Police Commissioner, Ken Moroney, said there were no benefits that Kostakidis would receive through resignation that he might have been denied through being dismissed.

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