Australia Rohan Arnold walked into Serbian trap over $1.5b drug deal, court told

02:51  03 august  2018
02:51  03 august  2018 Source:   watoday.com.au

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Mr Arnold appeared via audio-visual link before the Supreme Court on Thursday, where he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison, for each of the five charges of importation. Seven hours in Paris with the AFP. Australian Federal Police officers took an alleged international drug trafficker, Rohan

Seven hours in Paris with the AFP. Australian Federal Police officers took an alleged international drug trafficker, Rohan Arnold, on a sightseeing tour of Paris during a mid-extradition stopover on the trip home from Serbia.© Fairfax Media Seven hours in Paris with the AFP. Australian Federal Police officers took an alleged international drug trafficker, Rohan Arnold, on a sightseeing tour of Paris during a mid-extradition stopover on the trip home from Serbia. Rohan Arnold has been charged with five counts related to the importation of a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs.© radfordcollegians.com.au Rohan Arnold has been charged with five counts related to the importation of a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs. In his own words Rohan Arnold is a “white collar, successful businessman”.

But the Murrumbateman man sported only prison greens on Thursday, when he failed in his bid for release from jail, where he is awaiting trial over the alleged importation of 1.28 tonnes of cocaine in a shipping container in April last year.

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David Campbell, now 49, was arrested at gunpoint in the foyer of the Metropol Palace Hotel in January, along with Canberra steel importer and stockyards' director Rohan Arnold , 43, and former Canberra nightclub owner Tristan Waters, 34. Campbell was flown into Sydney under police escort on Tuesday

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The Supreme Court heard extraordinary details about how the shipping container arrived in Australia, its covert seizure by authorities and an undercover operative who led the syndicate to believe the missing container had ended up in New Zealand. The operative said it could only be retrieved by way of a $3 million payment to be handed over at a meeting in Serbia.

But when the 44-year-old and two other Australian men travelled to Serbia in January this year, they walked blindly into the trap.

Mr Arnold - along with Tristan Waters, 34, and David Campbell, 48 - was detained during a dramatic gunpoint arrest by local authorities in a Serbian hotel in January, where a bag containing $1 million cash was allegedly being exchanged.

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A 49-year-old NSW man has been extradited from Serbia over his alleged role in an international cocaine-smu David Campbell, now 49, was arrested at the Metropol Palace Hotel in January, along with Canberra steel importer and stockyards' director Rohan Arnold , 43, and former Canberra

Canberra businessman Rohan Arnold has appeared in a NSW court after being extradited from Serbia over his alleged involvement in a 0 million international He's been charged with five offences including importing and attempting to import a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug .

David Campbell, who was also arrested in Serbia over the cocaine seizure.© Linked In David Campbell, who was also arrested in Serbia over the cocaine seizure. Rohan Arnold's defence barrister Jack Pappas leaving the Supreme Court on Thursday.© Lucy Cormack Rohan Arnold's defence barrister Jack Pappas leaving the Supreme Court on Thursday. as the culmination of a lengthy surveillance operation linked to the discovery of the cocaine - worth an estimated $1.5 billion - hidden inside hollow prefabricated steel on a Chinese container ship in Sydney last April.

The cocaine was sent from a company located in China’s steel district, which has the same street address as one of Mr Arnold’s own steel businesses.

Mr Arnold has since been charged with five counts related to the importation of a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs, each of which carries a potential life-time jail sentence.

His co-accused and business partner, Mr Campbell, was extradited to Sydney on Tuesday evening. He did not apply for bail at Parramatta Local Court on Wednesday, however bail was formally refused.

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ACCC calls for million fine for Heinz. NSW man extradited from Serbia over drugs . In March this year, the second person – 43-year-old steel importer Rohan Arnold – arrived in Sydney after being extradited and will appear in the state Supreme Court on August 2.

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The third accused, Mr Waters, remains behind bars in Serbia, where he is fighting extradition.

In the Supreme Court on Thursday Justice Natalie Adams denied Mr Arnold’s bid for freedom, despite a bail application arguing it may be 2020 before he stands trial over the charges, due to the complexity of the case.

Mr Arnold’s barrister Jack Pappas also argued the stockyard director was “not a flight risk”, supported by claims he was taken on a sightseeing tour of Paris, without handcuffs, while being extradited to Australia under federal police escort.

On Thursday the Herald revealed Mr Arnold enjoyed a mid-extradition stopover on the trip home from Serbia this year, during which the alleged trafficker took happy snaps of five Australian officials near the Eiffel Tower, using one of their mobile phones.

“Clearly the police who had the job of bringing him to Australia … did not regard him as a flight risk,” Mr Pappas told the court.

Seven hours in Paris with the AFP. Australian Federal Police officers took an alleged international drug trafficker, Rohan Arnold, on a sightseeing tour of Paris during a mid-extradition stopover on the trip home from Serbia.© Fairfax Media Seven hours in Paris with the AFP. Australian Federal Police officers took an alleged international drug trafficker, Rohan Arnold, on a sightseeing tour of Paris during a mid-extradition stopover on the trip home from Serbia. However while Justice Adams accepted that “he did not flee to the backstreets of Paris” on the “somewhat unusual” day trip, she acknowledged the stockyard director was not then aware of the extensive surveillance to which he had been subjected, nor the strength of the prosecution case against him.

Seven hours in Paris: cops go sightseeing with alleged drug trafficker

  Seven hours in Paris: cops go sightseeing with alleged drug trafficker <p>Australian Federal Police officers took an alleged international drug trafficker on a sightseeing tour of Paris during a mid-extradition stopover on the trip home.</p>At one point during the seven-hour stopover, an unrestrained Rohan Arnold says he took happy snaps of five Australian officials near the Eiffel Tower, using one of their mobile phones.

Salesyard director and steel importer Rohan Arnold and the other two Australian men are locked up in a Serbian jail following a dramatic arrest at a five-star hotel over a syndicate that tried to bring more than a tonne of cocaine into Sydney via China last year.

Prominent Australian businessman Rohan Arnold , 43, was arrested at The three are suspected of having ties to an international drug ring that tried to smuggle the drug haul into Sydney. Photo: Serbia Police. Serbian media outlets have dubbed Mr Arnold the "Australian king of steel".

The prosecution argued that, in any case, “with no wallet, no money and on foot,” there were not many avenues for his escape in Paris.

She said it was likely Mr Arnold now had access to funds through his “very complex business structure,” which presented too great a risk.

The Supreme Court heard extensive details about last year’s alleged importation and the subsequent attempts to retrieve the missing haul by Mr Arnold, Mr Campbell and their associates, including that Mr Arnold had been in China in March, in the days prior to the shipment arriving in Australia.

According to intercepted communications obtained during a lengthy surveillance operation, Mr Arnold considered himself no stranger to a boardroom, due to his business experience in property development, the steel industry and the livestock trade.

It was this business acumen he allegedly offered to the major international drug syndicate, court documents claim.

“I do not fit the stereotype of the normal here ... I am a white-collar, successful businessman, where I sit on a number of boards,” he allegedly wrote in an encrypted messaging chat group between syndicate members late last year.

“Throughout my involvement I have tried to ... get this group to make decisions like a board ... right now we have a board at war with each other ... While my fingerprints are not directly on the project … I have given logistics advice ... [so] the manufacturer may potentially come looking for my blood.”

The court heard the message was sent at the end of last year, more than six months after the shipping container had been covertly seized by Australian authorities, and the syndicate was desperately seeking its return.

In September an undercover operative had contacted Mr Campbell to tell him the missing container had been located in New Zealand, but could be returned for a payment of $3 million.

According to court documents, Mr Arnold said he was “personally willing” to pay his share of the importation to retrieve the container, when under the mistaken impression it had been sent to New Zealand.

By December 9, Mr Arnold had flown to Melbourne and then Perth, where he met with an undercover operative and agreed to exchange the money for the return of the container in Serbia.

Mr Arnold flew to Serbia in January, where he was ultimately arrested and extradited.

The prosecution brief against Mr Arnold is expected to be at least eight volumes and will be served later this year.

Outside court Mr Pappas said preparing the defence case with Mr Arnold behind bars would be “very difficult without the appropriate facilities, and that was one of the reasons we applied for bail”.

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