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Bikie leader had role in trucker fraud, court told

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Comanchero MC

BY: Ben Butler and Georgia Wilkins

Australia - The Victorian president of the Comancheros outlaw motorcycle gang, Amad "Jay" Malkoun, led efforts to conceal from authorities trucks and other assets at the centre of a multimillion-dollar fraud, a court has heard.

The court also heard that Steve Iliopoulos, the chief executive of the trucking company at the centre of the alleged fraud, Viking Group, was involved in the "severe bashing" of a lawyer working for his ex-wife.

Details of Operation Hagar, the Victoria Police investigation into the collapse of Viking Group, emerged on Tuesday in the County Court during a hearing into an unrelated fraud committed by the company's former chief financial officer, Loukia Bariamis.

Mr Iliopoulos and Ms Bariamis face fraud charges over documents used to secure tens of millions of dollars in loans to Viking Group, which collapsed in 2011. Mr Iliopoulos denies the charges. Advertisement

The possibility of large-scale fraud at Viking Group was revealed in July 2011 when Fairfax Media reported the Commonwealth Bank's concerns that more than $30 million in invoices written by the company may have been falsified.

On Tuesday, the court heard Ms Bariamis is to plead guilty to the Viking Group charges and has agreed to give evidence against Mr Iliopoulos, supplying fraud squad detectives with a detailed 82-page statement.

She has also pleaded guilty to one charge of defrauding the Tax Office of $1.8 million in 2004-05 and has given police an instructional paper detailing how to exploit weaknesses in the ATO website.

On Tuesday, her counsel, David Grace, QC, told Judge Paul Lacava his client's co-operation with Operation Hagar should earn her a reduced sentence for the ATO fraud.

Holding back tears, Ms Bariamis told the court she feared for her safety in relation to Mr Iliopoulos "on the basis of the people that I know who are involved with the family that have hurt other people for vindictive purposes".

Fraud squad detective Senior Constable John Lal told the court that Jay Malkoun's cousin, Mark Malkoun, was operations manager at Viking Group.

He said that Ms Bariamis had provided valuable evidence about the involvement of the Malkouns at Viking Group and also about an assault on Mrs Iliopoulos' lawyer, Arthur Hallett.

Under questioning from Mr Grace, he confirmed that Ms Bariamis told police she committed fraud at Viking Group under orders from Mr Iliopoulos, who allegedly told her: "Just do it and shut the f--- up."

Mr Lal said police had established that Mr Iliopoulos' family and his mistress benefited from $700,000 in credit card spending on travel, accommodation, restaurants, jewellery, handbags, fuel and motor cars.

"Indeed, $100,000 to [travel to] Europe," Mr Lal said. "$20,000 on a watch … it's quite substantial."

He said that after Viking Group collapsed, its liquidator demanded the return of its fleet of trucks and other equipment.

"What we'll allege is that they refused to return those trucks and equipment and used members of the Comancheros to move and hide that plant and equipment in Victoria and Tasmania," he said.

Judge Lacava adjourned the plea hearing to May 27.


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Posted on 4/9/2013 9:30 AM | 1%er News

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