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Chapter 1 - Major Fraud Group – Victoria police

 

I ask you to consider two witness statements, dated 8 and 10 August 2006, referring to the 1999 and 2001 Major Fraud Group investigations: one statement was prepared by a government public servant/ex-police officer and the other by an ex very-senior Telstra protective officer (later promoted to the principal investigator). Both statements are discussed on absentjustice.com AFP Evidence File No 13. Members of the current government were provided with copies of these witness statements, without redactions. Sadly, the information in these two witness statements, to date, has not been acted upon.

The Telstra ex-senior protective service officer’s witness statement discusses a then still senior detective sergeant of the then Major Fraud Group, Victoria Police. The ex-police officer’s witness statement also describes the anguish experienced by the senior detective sergeant while he was investigating alleged fraud within Telstra during the COT arbitrations and the fears he had after being subjected to intimidation. 

Absent Justice - Where was the Justice

To add yet another alarming set of circumstances to this unbelievable story, I need to take the reader back to 1999, when the Victoria police Major Fraud Group seconded me as a witness in their attempt to prove Telstra had committed fraud against five of the twenty-one COT Cases during their arbitrations (see namely Ann Garms, Graham Schorer, Ralph Bova, and Ross Plowman. It had been common knowledge in some government circles that I had prepared two separate technical reports (see Telstra's Falsified BCI Report and Telstra's Falsified SVT Report) using Telstra late received documents (that had not been provided to me during which proved Telstra had used fraud during my arbitration that had stopped a proper investigation into the ongoing telephone problems still being experienced by the COT Cases during their respective arbitrations.

Telstra had also knowingly misled and deceived the Australian Senate, concerning this fraud.

The Victoria police wanted me to explain to the Major Fraud Group the method I had used in these two reports, which, even today, in 2022, leaves no doubt that Telstra should have been charged under Section 52 of the Australian Trade Practices Act for 'Misleading and Deceptive Conduct' and perverting the course of justice.

Over three different 3-day periods between 1998 and 1999, I worked alongside Mr Neil Jepson, Barrister for the Major Fraud Group, and assisted three other investigators. After working with the two male and one female officer, I knew I had, years before, chosen the wrong career - I wished I have joined the police force.- these three officers were dedicated to their craft.

After the Federal Government put the Major Fraud Group under political pressure to abandon the four COT claims of fraud against Telstra, I met two senior Victorian police officers who apologised for what they realised was truly an ordeal for me: not only my failed arbitration but also the failed Victoria Police investigation. I was provided with a small A4 storage box, taped shut. They advised me my four larger boxes of evidence would be couriered to my designated location. I asked if this small package could be included, as I preferred not to carry it away. The look in the eyes of the police officer in charge was stern and direct, and when he stated, “NO, you take this box with you now,” I didn’t argue!

It turned out that this box contained some startling documents I had not seen before, documents that would shock most Senators today but which clearly indicated that their predecessors had allowed only five of the twenty-one legitimate COT claimants to have access to discovery documents and had also organized compensation for those five, compensation that ran into the millions upon millions of dollars in hush money, and all of that was accomplished so that the Telstra Corporation could be privatized.  Now, if I am wrong, and that is not the case, then why were the remaining sixteen COT claimants all denied access to any of the privileges that the five ‘litmus test cases’ had been granted, and why did a letter from the Senate Estimates Committee Chair advises the police that two In-camera Hansard records, dated 6 and 9 July 1998, must not be provided to anyone outside of the Major Fraud Group and, if someone did reveal them then that person risked being sentenced to jail?  Interestingly, the 9 July 1998 Hansard clearly states that to only award compensation to the ‘litmus test cases’ that were being investigated by the Senate Committee Working Party, and not to the other sixteen claimants, would be an injustice?

It might be hard to believe, but back in August 2001 and again in December 2004, the Australian Government threatened, in writing, to have me charged with contempt of the Senate if I was to ever disclose these in-camera Hansard records, even though those documents could well have won our cases if the COT claimants had appealed against the arbitration process? Where is the justice in that? Being charged with contempt of the Senate can result in a two-year jail term, and, of course, the Government has always known that, but if I had been in a position to safely go ahead and make these documents public, they would have been an enormous help, probably resulting in me winning my appeal against Telstra for gross misconduct. So how can the Senate continue to hide this conduct and, in the process, destroy so many lives? How is this democratic?

It might be hard to believe but, back in August 2001, and again in December 2004, the Australian Government threatened, in writing, to have me charged with contempt of the Senate if I was to ever disclose these in-camera Hansard records, even though those documents could well have won our cases if the COT claimants had appealed against the arbitration process? Where is the justice in that? Being charged with contempt of the Senate can result in a two-year jail term and, of course, the Government has always known that but, if I had been in a position to safely go ahead and make these documents public, they would have been a huge help, probably resulting in me winning my appeal against Telstra for gross misconduct.  So how can the Senate continue to hide this conduct and, in the process, destroy so many lives? How is this democratic?

To understand how and why this occurred, we need to go back to 1997, when the John Howard Coalition Government was in the throes of executing the first of its three steps towards the final privatisation of Telstra. Then, towards the middle of October 1998, the COT ‘litmus test’ cases were, eventually and slowly, beginning to receive some of the previously withheld documents they had legally requested. It then became apparent that the Howard Government was selling the Telstra Corporation, i.e. a government asset, which was in a much worse state than the Government Communications Regulator had claimed it was in (see Manipulating the Regulator). After some 150,000 previously withheld documents were finally delivered to the ‘litmus test’ cases (see An injustice to the remaining 16 Australian citizens) the picture that began to emerge clearly identified exactly how bad the Telstra copper-wire network was, certainly in many rural locations. It then seemed that this was the real reason for the Government’s decision to stop the remaining sixteen COT claimants from receiving the same privileges as those awarded to the ‘litmus test’ cases, which eventually took more than two years to assess. Could the Government afford to have the truth of Telstra’s dilapidated network exposed just as they were about to privatise the corporation? I think not.

I am convinced that when the Major Fraud Group provided me with copies of these Hansard records, they believed that those records would be instrumental in eventually creating justice for the remaining sixteen COT Cases. Our webpage shows however that this was never the case.

After I provided another report to Neil Jepson, the Major Fraud Group asked me to assist them in compiling this evidence for their investigations. I did this over two separate visits to Melbourne spending two full days at the Major Fraud Group’s St. Kilda Road offices. This is important to the litmus tests cases issue because the Major Fraud Group was stunned at the evidence and how I was able to prove Telstra definitely perverted the course of justice, on two occasions, by submitting false evidence to Dr Hughes, the arbitrator appointed to my case.

It was sometime later (after the Major Fraud Group abandoned the four COT litmus cases’ claims against Telstra) that I was again seconded to Melbourne by Neil Jepson. Mr Jepson was clearly distressed – not only because the case against Telstra had folded through political pressure by the then Liberal National Party – but also because my evidence against Telstra was ignored by the Senate, despite Telstra knowingly providing this Bell Canada International Cape Bridgewater false testing information to the arbitrator as well as the Senate.

Some twelve months later, Mr Neil Jepson and I were called as witnessed in a Victorian Supreme Court Action while waiting to be called to give evidence that Mr Jepson said words to the effect that the COT story should be recorded in the public interest.

absentjustice.com  was born from that statement and the immense respect I had for Mr Jepson, who has since passed away. He was indeed a good Barrister with morals.  

Consider: if this feeling of being got at by the Telstra Corporation can reduce a fully trained senior police officer to this condition, just think how this continual and unaddressed harassment by Telstra officials left the COT cases during and after our government-endorsed arbitrations (for example, exhibit 501 in AS-CAV Exhibits 495 to 541). No COTs were ever offered counseling or apologised to by the government, which, remember, still owned Telstra when this harassment commenced in 1992 and continued well past the Major Fraud Group investigations of 1998 and 2001 (see Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1).

It is important I revisit the witness states of 8 and 10 August 2006.

It is important to raise the Victorian Major Fraud Group’s police involvement in the COT cases’ matters (as well as a number of parties associated with the Major Fraud Group), as it is clearly linked to our An injustice to the remaining 16 Australian citizens page. I was not one of the four COT cases’ litmus group, who, through Sue Owens (barrister) lodged complaints against Telstra with the Major Fraud Group in 1999. I was seconded some months later as a witness. The litmus COT cases provided my evidence of Telstra committing fraud against me, during my arbitration to the Senate estimates committee during their FOI investigations. Despite this, the chair of the Senate estimates committee discarded my evidence (even though it had been provided On Notice to Senator Ron Boswell).

It was this discarded evidence the Major Fraud Group asked me to supply at the request of their barrister, Neil Jepson.

After I provided the contents of (see Telstra’s Falsified BCI Report to Neil Jepson, the Major Fraud Group asked me to assist them in compiling this evidence for their investigations. I did this over two separate visits to Melbourne spending two full days at the Major Fraud Group’s St. Kilda Road offices. This is important to the litmus tests cases issue because the Major Fraud Group was stunned at the evidence and how I was able to prove Telstra definitely perverted the course of justice, on two occasions, by submitting false evidence to Dr Hughes, the arbitrator appointed to my case.

Moving forward to the 31 August 2006 when my local member of parliament The Hon avid Hawker MP, Speaker in the House of Representatives in the John Howard government wrote to me noting:

Many thanks for keeping me informed. As requested, issues concerning privacy breaching have been raised with Senator Coonan’s office for your meeting with the Minister set for 6 September 2006".  (Refer to exhibit AS 578 File  AS-CAV Exhibits 542-a to 588  

My privacy concerns were not addressed during this meeting. However, as shown below for the date of 17 May 2007, Senator Helen Coonan did write to me on this matter noting:

"...I also appreciate the depth of feeling regarding the matter and suggest you consider whether any court proceedings may be your ultimate option" (Refer to exhibit AS 616-B) File  AS-CAV Exhibits 648-a to 700 )

I ask you to consider two witness statements, dated 8 and 10 August 2006, referring to the 1999 and 2001 Major Fraud Group investigations: one statement was prepared by a government public servant/ex-police officer and the other by an ex very-senior Telstra protective officer (later promoted to the principal investigator), which I received during this official 6 September 2006 government meeting which the Hon David Hawker Speaker in the House of Representatives suggested I raise my concerns about the relentless harassment my partner Cathy and I had experienced since I had assisted the Australian Federal Police in 1994 and the Victorira police Major Fraud Group from 1999 to 2001.

Both statements are discussed on our Absentjustice Preface page AFP Evidence File No 13. Members of the current government were provided with copies of these witness statements, without redactions. Sadly, the information in these two witness statements, to date, has not been acted upon.

8 and 10 August 2006: Exhibit AS 517 File  AS-CAV Exhibits 495 to 541  is Witness Statement dated 10 August 2006 (provided to the DCITA) by Ann Garms, and sworn out by Des Direen ex- Telstra Senior Protective Officer, eventually reaching Principal Investigator status.  Mr Direen has been brave enough to reveal that, in 1999 / 2000, after he left Telstra, he assisted the Victoria Police Major Fraud Group, in particular Rod Kueris, with their investigations into the COT fraud allegations.  I was called into that investigation as a witness (see  An Injustice to the remaining 16 Australian citizens ).

Points 12 to 18 in Mr Direen’s statement explained that “From what (he) observed on this day, and applying the knowledge that (he) gained during (his) twelve years at Telstra, (he had) no doubt in (his) mind that the phones at Rod KUERIS’s home address were possibly interfered with". Within a few weeks of Mr Direen having assisted the Major Fraud Group with their investigations, it became apparent that Mr Kueris was very distressed. Both Graham Schorer (COT spokesperson, as a complainant and me, as a witness, reported to Mr Kueris and Mr Jepson that we believed we were also under surveillance during those investigations.

Exhibit AS 517 is also a witness statement dated 8 August 2006, prepared by Bob Hynninen, Public Servant (Australian Taxation Office) formerly Detective Sergeant of the Victoria police. At point 3 in this statement Mr Hynninen notes:

"I can recall that during the period 2000/200, I had arranged to meet Detective Sergeant Rod KURIS from the Victoria Police Major Fraud Squad at the foyer of Casselden Place, 2 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. At the time, I was assisting Rod with the investigation into alleged illegal activities against the COT Cases.

Rod then stated that he wanted me to follow him to the left side of the foyer. When we did this he then directed my attention to a male person seated on a sofa opposite our seat. He then told me that the person had been following him around the city all morning. At this stage Rod was becoming visibly upset and I had to calm him down.Rod kept on saying that he couldn't believe in what was happening to him. I had to again calm him down".  

Points 21and 22 in Mr Direen’s statement also record how, while he was a Telstra employee, he had cause to investigate “… suspected illegal interference to telephone lines at the Portland exchange” but, when he “… made inquiries by telephone back to Melbourne (he) was told not to get involved and that it was being handled by another area of Telstra” and that ... the Cape Bridgewater complainant was a part of the COT cases”.

These two witness statements were provided to the DCITA by Ann Garms, COT Case member after discussions with Senator Barnaby Joyce (now in 2021, the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia)   

Before reading our Casualties of Telstra story, we suggest you click on the following legal research paper https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2817646 where you will find there are others, not just the COT cases, who see loopholes in the justice given out by some of the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman staff. In many cases, these ombudsmen have not even been registered lawyers or judges and yet the Australian Establishment gives them the right to decide legal issues, which have – in many cases, as our story shows – ruined the lives of those who participated in the arbitrations

In October 1997, when Telstra provided the Cape Bridgewater/Bell Canada International Inc (BCI) report in response to questions raised by the Senate, on notice, Telstra already knew it was false but still no one has ever brought Telstra to account for that, even though their actions were in contempt of the Senate.

On 12 January 1998, (three months after this false Cape Bridgewtare BCI testing information had been provided to the Senate) during the same Senate estimates committee investigations into COT FOI issues, Graham Schorer (COT spokesperson provided Sue Laver (Telstra’s 2020 Corporate Secretary with a number of documents. On page 12 of his letter, Graham states:

“Enclosed are the 168 listings extracted from Telstra’s Directory of Network Products and Network Operations, plus CoT’s written explanation, which alleges to prove that parts of the November 1993 Bell Canada International Report is fabricated or falsified.”

On pages 23-8 of this letter, and using the Cape Bridgewater statistics material, Graham provided clear evidence to Sue Laver and the chair of the Senate legislation committee that the information Telstra provided to questions raised by the Senate on notice, in October 1997, was false (see Scrooge – exhibit 62-Part One – Sue Laver BCI evidence and Scrooge – exhibit 48-Part Two – Sue Laver BCI Evidence). Knowingly providing false information to the senate is in contempt of the Senate. No one yet within Telstra has been brought to account for supplying false Cape Bridgewater BCI results to the Senate. Had Telstra not supplied this false information to the Senate, the Senate would have addressed all the BCI matters I now raise on absentjustice.com concerning my ongoing telephone problems, in 1997

This evidence which I formulated into my own prepared Telstra’s Falsified BCI Report which is also discussed on our my-story/introduction/Introduction page was one of the documents along with the Tampering With Evidence – TF200 that Neil Jepson thought could assist me in winning my arbitration appeal. It is also clear from the statements made (see Major Fraud Group Transcript (1) by Sue Owens Barrister who was assisting Mr Neil Jepson in the Major Fraud Group investigations that my evidence had been compiled most professionally.

It is important to raise the Victorian Major Fraud Group’s police involvement in the COT cases’ matters (as well as a number of parties associated with the Major Fraud Group), as it is clearly linked to our An injustice to the remaining 16 Australian citizens page. I was not one of the four COT cases’ litmus group, who, through Sue Owens (barrister) lodged complaints against Telstra with the Major Fraud Group in 1999. I was seconded some months later as a witness. The litmus COT cases provided my evidence of Telstra committing fraud against me, during my arbitration to the Senate estimates committee during their FOI investigations. Despite this, the chair of the Senate estimates committee discarded my evidence (even though it had been provided On Notice to Senator Ron Boswell).

It was this discarded evidence the Major Fraud Group asked me to supply at the request of their barrister, Neil Jepson.

After I provided the contents of (see Telstra’s Falsified BCI Report to Neil Jepson, the Major Fraud Group asked me to assist them in compiling this evidence for their investigations. I did this over two separate visits to Melbourne spending two full days at the Major Fraud Group’s St. Kilda Road offices. This is important to the litmus tests cases issue because the Major Fraud Group was stunned at the evidence and how I was able to prove Telstra definitely perverted the course of justice, on two occasions, by submitting false evidence to Dr Hughes, the arbitrator appointed to my case.

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“I am writing in reference to your article in last Friday’s Herald-Sun (2nd April 1993) about phone difficulties experienced by businesses.

I wish to confirm that I have had problems trying to contact Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp over the past 2 years.

I also experienced problems while trying to organise our family camp for September this year. On numerous occasions I have rung from both this business number 053 424 675 and also my home number and received no response – a dead line.

I rang around the end of February (1993) and twice was subjected to a piercing noise similar to a fax. I reported this incident to Telstra who got the same noise when testing.”

Cathy Lindsey

“…your persistence to bring about improvements to Telecom’s country services. I regret that it was at such a high personal cost.”

The Hon David Hawker MP

“I am writing in reference to your article in last Friday’s Herald-Sun (2nd April 1993) about phone difficulties experienced by businesses.

I wish to confirm that I have had problems trying to contact Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp over the past 2 years.

I also experienced problems while trying to organise our family camp for September this year. On numerous occasions I have rung from both this business number 053 424 675 and also my home number and received no response – a dead line.

I rang around the end of February (1993) and twice was subjected to a piercing noise similar to a fax. I reported this incident to Telstra who got the same noise when testing.”

Cathy Lindsey

“Only I know from personal experience that your story is true, otherwise I would find it difficult to believe. I was amazed and impressed with the thorough, detailed work you have done in your efforts to find justice”

Sister Burke

“…the very large number of persons that had been forced into an arbitration process and have been obliged to settle as a result of the sheer weight that Telstra has brought to bear on them as a consequence where they have faced financial ruin if they did not settle…”

Senator Carr

“…your persistence to bring about improvements to Telecom’s country services. I regret that it was at such a high personal cost.”

Hon David Hawker

“All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”

– Edmund Burke