NEWS THAT MATTERS

A rooster one day,

a feather duster the next

The former Central Coast Member for Dobell and Union official Craig Thomson was arrested at his home in Terrigal yesterday (17 November) by Australian Federal Police. Thomson has been accused of facilitating more than a 130 fraudulent visa applications, resulting in more than $2m allegedly being gained from this activity.

Former Member for Dobell Craig Thomson is facing more than 130 charges for fraudulent visa applications.

18 November 2021

ALAN HAYES

 

CRAIG Thomson, prior to his arrest yesterday, was implicated in the Health Services Union expenses affair. On 15 December 2014 Thomson was found guilty in the County Court of Victoria of thirteen charges of theft, and later convicted and fined $25,000.

 

The funds were spent on sex workers and fine dining with his wife – personal expenses not permitted by the union.

 

Other charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception were dismissed on appeal.

 

His conviction followed an appeal against a conviction and sentence in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 25 March 2014 when Thomson was found guilty of 65 charges of fraud and theft for using Health Services Union funds for personal benefit; and sentenced to twelve months imprisonment, with nine months suspended over two years. Thomson was initially released on bail and the conviction and sentence subsequently overturned on appeal.

 

Thomson was the national secretary of the Health Services Union from 2002 until the 2007 federal election, when he was elected to the House of Representatives as the Member for Dobell for the Australian Labor Party. In April 2012 he announced his intention to sit on the crossbench as an independent member of parliament. Thomson lost his seat at the 2013 federal election.

 

On 17 October 2018, Thomson was struck off as a lawyer.

 

Yesterday Thomson was arrested over his alleged role in a migration fraud. The visa fraud applications, which were over a four-year period,  were focused on the food service and agriculture industries.

 

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) have charged Thomson with "multiple offences, including 19 counts of providing false documents and false or misleading information, five counts of a prohibition on asking for or receiving a benefit in return for the occurrence of a sponsorship-related event, two counts of obtaining a financial advantage by deception and one count of dealing with proceeds of crime.

 

If found guilty he could face as much as 10 years in gaol.

 

Thomson was taken into custody and bail refused at Gosford Police Station to appear before Gosford Magistrates Court today.

 

The AFP’s commander of investigations for Eastern Command, Craig Bellis, said “The alleged offences in this matter involved the exploitation of federal government programs designed to assist Australian businesses, and it is incumbent on the AFP to investigate and prosecute instances of large-scale fraud against Australian taxpayers.

 

“The charges involved a serious breach of public trust.”

 

The Australian Border Force’s (ABF) Erin Dale said the agency took a zero-tolerance approach to anyone allegedly trying to profit through the exploitation of vulnerable foreign workers.

 

“This investigation demonstrates the unwavering resolve of the ABF and AFP in preventing the exploitation of foreign workers in Australia. ‘Cash for visa’ schemes, as they are often known, target vulnerable visa holders who may not be aware of Australian laws and workplace entitlements”, she said.

 

Search warrants were executed on properties in nearby Wamberal, Terrigal and Copacabana, as well as in East Maitland, the Sydney suburbs of Rockdale and Revesby, and the Queensland town of Bundaberg West.

 

The investigation involved units from the AFP, Border Force, AUSTRAC, the Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Home Affairs.

Grapevine News Online

Central Coast NSW

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