NEWS THAT MATTERS
Thomson granted bail
over alleged migration fraud
Former Labor MP Craig Thomson, whose sex-with-union-funds scandal nearly brought down a government, was granted bail yesterday after appearing in Gosford Court on charges for alleged visa migration fraud.
Former Labor MP and trade union official Craig Thomson granted bail amid migration fraud accusations.
19 November 2021
AFTER spending a night in the Gosford cells Craig Thomson was released on bail to face court again in February.
Craig Thomson, 57, appeared via video link at Gosford Local Court yesterday (18 November) after Australia Federal Police officers arrested him at his Terrigal home on the NSW Central Coast on Wednesday.
Gosford Local Court was told the allegations related to the alleged migration fraud, of which Mr Thomson was said to be a “pivotal” facilitator, and an allegation he made a fraudulent application for the JobKeeper benefit relating to a cafe he operated.
Mr Clements said his client had operated three distinct businesses for the last seven years – a labour-hire business, which is the subject of most of the allegations, a business exporting fruits and vegetables to India with a man who happens to be a migration agent, and a cafe which no longer trades, which is also the subject of allegations.
“It is a very complicated matter, your honour, involving numerous different agencies,” Mr Clements said. “It will be a matter which will rely on expert reports.”
Mr Clements said Mr Thomson had been aware of the investigation since July this year, when he was interviewed by police, and had “fully cooperated” including participating in two voluntary interviews.
Crown Prosecutor Chelsea Brain opposed bail being granted. She said the facts of the case indicated Mr Thomson had a “propensity towards dishonesty and the involvement in falsification of documents”.
Ms Brain said it would be alleged Mr Thomson and an accountant discussed the potential fabrication of evidence in the case as recently as October 2021, when amendments were made to a business activity statement from 2020. This was after Mr Thomson’s police interview.
She said the current charges related to 10 visa applicants, all said to have been sponsored by a business called Peppermint Grove. However, in total there were up to 130 visa applicants sponsored at 25 small businesses connected to Mr Thomson, she said.
Magistrate Jennifer Price described the facts of the case as being somewhat complex.
However, Magistrate Jennifer Price granted Mr Thomson bail with strict conditions after his lawyer described him as a family man with no assets to his name, currently on the JobSeeker benefit, who was not a flight risk because he did not want to be separated from his children.
Although the crown prosecutor argued that Thomson was a serious flight risk, his legal counsel, former NSW Labor boss Jamie Clements, said his client denies any wrongdoing and will fight the charges.
Mr Clements argued that his client's close ties to the community and connection to his three children would negate any flight risk.
"He is a family man. Why on earth would he want to flee the jurisdiction, never to return, never to see his children again?" Mr Clements said.
Mr Thomson "denies any wrongdoing and intends to vigorously fight the charges".
Mr Thomson’s current arrest follows an earlier development where NSW police secured a restraining order to protect the wife of Mr Thomson.
Police granted an apprehended violence order on Ms Arnold's behalf at Gosford Local Court.
The two-year AVO prevents 57-year-old Mr Thomson going anywhere Ms Arnold lives, works or to other places listed in the order.
While serving as Member for Dobell, Craig Thomson was investigated by Fair Work Australia for nearly four years over allegations that he used his Health Services Union credit card for improper purposes, commonly referred to as the Health Services Union expenses affair.
In April 2012 Craig Thomson asked to be suspended from the Labor Party after a discussion with the then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and announced his intention to sit on the crossbench as an independent member of parliament. In a statement to the House on 21 May 2012, Mr Thomson professed his innocence and used parliamentary privilege to name a number of individuals and claim that he was set up.
Following criminal proceedings where Thomson was found guilty of theft and fraud charges, the Federal Parliament voted in favour of a motion of "regret" and apologised to the individuals named in Mr Thomson's statement to the House on 21 May 2012. The matter was also referred to Parliament's Privileges Committee to investigate whether Mr Thomson deliberately misled the House.
On 4 April 2014 the New South Wales branch of the Labor Party expelled Thomson as a member of the party.
On 11 October 2016, Craig Thomson applied to the Law Society of New South Wales for a practising certificate. The Law Society refused to grant a practising certificate on the basis of his criminal convictions and informed the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court of NSW of that refusal. That led to an application by the Prothonotary to the Supreme Court for declarations that Mr Thomson was not a fit and proper person to remain on the NSW roll of lawyers, and that his name should be removed from the roll. The declarations sought were made by the Court on 17 October 2018.
Zoe Arnold defended Thomson him when he was found guilty of using trade union funds to pay for prostitutes.
Ms Arnold was Mr Thomson's third wife and by the time he was sentenced they had two daughters.
Grapevine News Online
Central Coast NSW
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