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Comanchero trial: Intercepted calls between lawyer and cash handler played to court

Published in 1%er News

Intercepted calls between alleged drug dealers, a lawyer and the president of the Comancheros Motorcyle Club have been played to a jury.

The money laundering and drug trial against Pasilika Naufahu, Connor Michael Tamati Clausen, accountant Wiwini Himi Hakaraia, a media personality who has name suppression, and a woman also with name suppression began on Monday at the High Court at Auckland.

The five were arrested following a series of raids across Auckland in April 2019 which saw more than $3.7 million in assets seized along with luxury cars, motorbikes, luxury luggage and jewellery.

Pasilika Naufahu arrived in New Zealand and set up the country’s chapter of the Comancheros Motorcyle Club.

On Monday, Crown prosecutor David Johnstone said a man charged alongside Naufahu and Clausen for conspiring to import drugs will give evidence at the trial.

The man, who the jury has heard is at the “heart of the case”, has admitted the charges and was also the cash handler, depositing money into various bank accounts.

Wiwini Hakaraia and Connor Clausen have denied the charges against them.

On Wednesday, Detective Sergeant Damian Espinosa​ detailed police observations of Naufahu and the man meeting in March 2018 at a park in Bucklands Beach.

Espinosa said the pair were seen sitting on the grass but threw cell phones off to the side at the start of the meeting.

Intercepted phone calls were also played to the jury between the man and his associates in Fiji.

Most of the calls are in Fijian.

Andrew Simpson was jailed for aiding money laundering for the Comancheros.

Intercepted phone calls were also played of the man and lawyer Andrew Simpson, who was jailed for laundering $2.2 million for the gang.

In court on Wednesday, in a call, the man and Simpson could be heard discussing what the Crown says are “money drops” in bank accounts.

Police observed Pasilika Naufahu driving a white Range Rover to meet a man.

The man was observed by police visiting various banks across Auckland.

He rings the lawyer saying “Kiwi” wants to buy another car using money from a trust.

In another call the man rings Simpson to follow up on an issue with money in an account.

“I’ve been busy with actual legal work than chasing around after these guys,” Simpson says.

An intercepted call between the man and the woman on trial for money laundering was played to the court.

“Darling I need a huge favour, I’m going to come and pick you up and we go to the bank together… Please I need your help. Bring your ID,” the man says.

The woman replies: “You just tell me what to do”.

Various amounts of money was deposited in banks across Auckland.

Police observed the pair entering various banks across Auckland, Espinosa said.

That same day, the man rang Simpson back and said “47” had been deposited between two of them.

Further intercepted communication between the man and a drug dealer based in Fiji revealed the pair talked about setting up the company for cassava. The Crown says cassava was a code name for drugs.

“Because you’re the source of the cassava. The farm,” the man can be heard saying.

He talks about giving the man a “green light”, however the man seems frustrated due to delays.

“I’ve talked to the, the, the president of the market here, you know what I mean?”

”But I suggest your bro or somebody when I return will meet me on the ground, because if not I will go elsewhere,” the drug dealer replies.

Pasilika Naufahu can be heard on intercepted calls talking about setting up a “crew”.

Earlier on Wednesday the court heard an intercepted call between Naufahu and an unknown male, where the president can be heard talking to the man about “opening up” in New Zealand.

“Brother we’ve got a good name up here too brother… I’ve got a small crew. No one doesn’t want to come close to us…”

“Oh I’ve got a f…… heavy New Zealand team here brother… tight crew, just a carload brother, that’s all I need.”

(listen to audio report)

THE CHARGES

Naufahu has denied conspiring to import a class A drug, conspiring to supply the class B drug pseudoephedrine and three charges of money laundering.

Clausen is charged with conspiring to supply the class B drug pseudoephedrine

The media personality is charged with participating in an organised criminal group and two charges of money laundering.

Hakaraia has denied participating in an organised criminal group; two charges of possession of a class A drug for supply, namely cocaine and methamphetamine; and three charges of money laundering.

The woman has also denied engaging in a money laundering transaction.

The trial is set down for four weeks in front of a jury and Justice Graham Lang.

Location: New Zealand
Writer: Catrin Owen
Source: stuff.co.nz
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