15 March 2022

Ben Aulich's attempt to get info in alleged money-laundering conspiracy case called a 'fishing expedition'

| Albert McKnight
Ben Aulich

Ben Aulich, from the law firm Aulich, leaves court on Tuesday. Photo: Albert McKnight.

Canberra lawyer Ben Aulich has been dealt a blow in his fight against the allegations he was involved in a money-laundering conspiracy after an attempt to force the release of information his legal team claimed was connected to the case failed.

On Tuesday (15 March), Magistrate Michael Crompton told the ACT Magistrates Court he couldn’t be satisfied the subpoena issued by Mr Aulich’s team was anything other than a “fishing expedition”.

The 49-year-old has been charged with counts of conspiracy and recruiting people to engage in criminal activity, while accountant Michael Anthony Papandrea has also been charged with conspiracy. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Magistrate Crompton had to rule on an application by the chief police officer to set aside a subpoena from Mr Aulich’s lawyers issued in June 2021 seeking information such as affidavits, photos, surveillance running sheets and documents regarding the operation into Mr Aulich.

Michael Anthony Papandrea

Michael Anthony Papandrea (left) leaves court with his lawyer Kamy Saeedi on Tuesday. Photo: Albert McKnight.

He said Mr Aulich’s team submitted it was arguable the operation against him was “from inception, unlawful”.

However, Magistrate Crompton said there had to be some foundation as to why the information was sought, and on the facts before him, there was none.

He granted the application to set aside the subpoena issued to the chief police officer and said he would reserve the question of costs.

Prosecutor Skye Jerome sought to amend charges against the two defendants, but the amendment was opposed.

READ ALSO More dates set as case against Canberra lawyer Ben Aulich will continue next year

Barrister David Campbell SC, for Mr Aulich, said the current charges alleged both defendants each conspired with three people to deal with the proceeds of crime, but the prosecution wanted to amend that to delete reference to two persons and allege it was a conspiracy only between his client and Mr Papandrea.

“That is a completely new agreement,” according to Mr Campbell, but Ms Jerome said it had always been the Crown case that there was an alleged agreement between both defendants.

Magistrate Crompton adjourned the case to hear arguments on the issue to 20 June.

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