Updated 21 December: Two Civic lawyers and an accountant from Kingston have indicated they would plead not guilty to money laundering and other charges after appearing in the ACT Magistrates Court on Monday (21 December).
Lawyers Ben Aulich, Bridie Harders and accountant Michael Papandrea appeared at the ACT Magistrates Court where it is alleged the prominent Civic lawyer, Mr Aulich, recruited Mr Papandrea to engage in criminal activity.
Mr Papandrea is accused of meeting with a fourth man, who has not been charged.
In court, the prosecutor said the money laundering and proceeds of crime charges would need to be amended to allege that the trio had conspired to commit their offences.
Mr Aulich and Ms Harders are being represented by Aulich law firm managing director Peter Woodhouse.
The prominent Civic law firm last week named Mr Aulich, 47, and Ms Harders, 35, as the two Canberra lawyers arrested earlier and charged with money laundering and other offences.
Kingston-based accountant Michael Papandrea, 54, has also been charged.
Aulich law firm managing director Peter Woodhouse said in a statement on 17 December on the firm’s website that its founding partner Mr Aulich and his associate Ms Harders “have the full support of the firm” and the charges against them “will be met and ultimately dealt with in the New Year”.
“As you may have seen in the media, there have been allegations made against two partners of the firm, Ben Aulich and Bridie Harders, in relation to allegations of dealing with the proceeds of crime,” Mr Woodhouse said in the statement.
“From the firm’s perspective, it is business as usual.”
Mr Aulich and Ms Harders were arrested on Wednesday (16 December) and charged with money laundering and dealing with the proceeds of crime of $100,000 or more.
Mr Aulich was also charged with recruiting people to engage in criminal activity.
Mr Papandrea was also charged with dealing with the proceeds of crime of $100,000 or more, money laundering and recruiting people to engage in criminal activity.
Mr Aulich and Ms Harders will face court again on 24 December to apply for variations to their bail conditions, while Mr Papandrea will appear in court again on 1 March.
Mr Aulich is a founding partner of the law firm Aulich. He was admitted to legal practice in 2000.
Ms Harders has been a civil and criminal lawyer for more than eight years in Canberra.
Mr Woodhouse said the law firm had received support from its clients, friends and professional colleagues regarding the charges.
“We would particularly like to thank the many hundreds of you that have reached out to us personally to offer your support. We will continue to deliver the high standard of service that we have always offered and nothing will change in that regard,” he said.
Lead investigator Detective Superintendent Scott Moller said earlier this week he expected further arrests to be made as part of their ongoing investigations targeting professional facilitators of organised crime in Canberra.
ACT Policing alleges Mr Aulich facilitated an introduction to the 54-year-old accountant for the purposes of “arranging to legitimise large quantities of cash”.
According to police, the men met on a number of occasions to discuss how legal contracts and agreements could be used to support a business purchase to facilitate the laundering of proceeds of crime.
“This was a highly sensitive eight-month investigation that targeted covert business practices and services that allowed criminals to commit further crime and hide assets within our community,” Det Supt Moller said.
Anyone with information that could assist police is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via the Crime Stoppers ACT website. Quote reference 6695673. Information can be provided anonymously.