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Premier League striker Wilfried Zaha receives online racist abuse, police arrest a 12-year-old boy


A 12-year-old boy was arrested by police after Crystal Palace player Wilfried Zaha highlighted racist abuse he received ahead of Sunday’s Premier League match at Aston Villa.

The racist messages and images referenced the Ivory Coast international being black and showed the Ku Klux Klan.

They were sent on Instagram from a user who referenced central England-based club Villa in their name.

“Woke up to this today,” Zaha posted on Twitter alongside screenshots.

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“We were alerted to a series of racist messages sent to a footballer today and after looking into them and conducting checks, we have arrested a boy,” West Midlands Police said on Twitter.

“The 12-year-old from Solihull has been taken into custody.

Before kick off at Villa Park, Zaha — like all players in recent weeks — took a knee as part of the Black Lives Matter campaign.

“He is very unhappy and he’s entitled to be,” Palace manager Roy Hodgson said after the 2-0 loss.

A Premier League player goes on one knee in a pre-match ceremony.
Wilfried Zaha joined an action to support Black Lives Matters before his team’s game against Aston Villa.(AP: Tim Keeton, Pool photo)

“These cowardly, despicable acts from people … presumably trying to get some sort of advantage for the team they support, maybe trying to put some doubts into the head of one of the opposition team’s star players.

The Premier League has launched a reporting system to allow players to report abuse that can be followed up by authorities.

“This behaviour is completely unacceptable and the Premier League stands alongside Wilfried Zaha in opposing this, and discrimination in any form,” the league said in a statement.

“We will continue to support players, managers, coaches and their family members who receive serious discriminatory online abuse.”

An anti-racism message is displayed on the big screen at the ground during a Premier League match.
The Premier League described the online abuse received by Wilfried Zaha as “completely unacceptable”.(Reuters/Action Images: Andrew Boyers, file photo)

Football pundits and former players joined in the condemnation of the abuse.

Former Arsenal, Crystal Palace and England striker Ian Wright emphasised the abuse faced by Zaha was not out of the ordinary.

“People like to make these experiences seem like it’s not the norm for black people. It’s always an outlier,” he tweeted.

“‘Not one of us’. ‘Not a real (insert club) fan’. These are real people & daily experiences!!

“Sooner we accept it the better we can deal with it!!! We stand with you Wilf”.

Another former England footballer, Gary Lineker, said: “This is abhorrent, and surely a criminal offence.”

AP/ABC



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NSW Police officer rescues baby wombat named Ted


NSW Police have a new recruit – an orphaned wombat named Ted.

The eight-month-old, bare-nosed wombat’s mother was tragically struck and killed by a car.

The furry new recruit has been patrolling the halls in Queanbeyan Police Station since June after one of its officers, Senior Constable Tori Murray, rescued the orphaned animal.

Ted has since been a regular fixture at the station and is often found napping in his portable bed under Snr Cst Murray’s desk.

NSW Police said Snr Cst Murray would continue to care for Ted for at least another 18 months until he was old enough to return to his natural habitat.

And it appears Snr Cst Murray’s colleagues are more than happy to have Ted around.

Monaro Police District’s Inspector Charles Hutchins said his favourite animal was a wombat.

RELATED: 90,000 animals rescued

RELATED: Heartbreaking video of burnt koala

“I love them because they’re cute but they’re also strong. They burrow into holes to protect themselves or live and survive,” he said.

“They’re also cute and cuddly. Particularly Ted because he’s a baby wombat and how can you not love a baby wombat.”

Insp Hutchins said crashes involving animals occurred regularly on our roads and urged drivers to keep an eye out for our native animals.

“With school holidays and everyone travelling along the highway, we encourage people be aware of your surroundings, which may include our native wildlife,” he said.

“If you see an animal near the road, we encourage you to slow down if possible, exercise caution and drive to the conditions so that way we’ll show some kindness to the animals by the roads.”

Snr Cst Murray, who rescued Ted, has volunteered with Wildcare during the last five years where she helps rescue, care for and rehabilitate injured native animals across the Monaro region.



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Police will catch those not following rules


Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has issued a blunt warning to those who planned on flouting restrictions as the state faced another spike in coronavirus cases overnight.

“The stakes are so high. The police will not issue warnings. The commissioner made it clear,” he said as he addressed media this morning about the state’s COVID-19 outbreak.

“That’s his call. I support the call he made. These rules are not new. We are frustratingly aware of what it takes to bring this under control and that’s what we must do and everyone has a part to play.

“I don’t think it’s too much to ask every Victorian, only go out for the four reasons. Not asking you to enjoy it, no-one will be enjoying it. It’s what has to be done and police are out there in force, well supported by the Australian Defence at checkpoints and other important functions that Victoria Police have stood up to have that hard border.

“Every Victorian has a part to play.”

RELATED: First Aussie treatment option for severe cases of COVID-19

While the Premier applauded the “vast majority” for adhering to the restrictions, he was quick to discourage rule breakers from thinking they won’t get caught.

“I would thank every Victorian doing the right thing. That’s the vast majority. That’s a deeply impressive thing. There will always be a small number who don’t do the right thing.

“Not only is it wrong, it’s not very smart. Victoria Place will catch you. Police will catch you.”

When asked if there had been any incidents of rule breaking so far, the Premier responded, “Not that I can speak to, no. The Chief Commissioner and the Police Minister may be able to provide you with further details of standouts, as it were.

“There’s no need for anyone to get fined. These rules are really clear. If you do the right thing, you won’t be at any risk of getting a fine, but if people do the wrong thing, then this is so serious.”

And police have not shied away from making examples of people.

A late-night trip to KFC in Melbourne yesterday cost a group of “selfish” revellers $26,000, with police ramping up lockdown enforcement.

Victoria Police Commissioner Shane Patton was noticeably frustrated as he gave an update yesterday, touching on the incident.

“We had ambos who were at a KFC at Dandenong and while they were getting something to eat they saw two people in there and they were ordering 20 meals at 1.30 this morning,” Commissioner Patton said.

Police were called and given the registration of the car, which was traced and led officers to a nearby townhouse, he said.

“When we went in, there was two people asleep but there were 16 others hiding out the back and they (had) just got the KFC meals at a birthday (party).

“That is ridiculous, that type of behaviour. It is an expensive night when you think apart from the KFC, we have issued 16 infringements.

“At that amount, that is $26,000 that birthday party is costing them. That is a heck of a birthday party to recall. They will remember that one for a long time.”

RELATED: Five virus cases lined to Sydney pub

The warnings come after Victoria confirmed another massive spike in virus cases, with 216 new infections recorded overnight.

Mr Andrews also revealed a man in his 90s died in hospital overnight from the virus.

He warned residents that if the virus isn’t brought under control then “it will spell tragedy for many more Victorian families”.

Yesterday the state recorded 288 new COVID-19 cases, the highest spike since the pandemic began.



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Melbourne lockdown checkpoints crowded with motorists, Victoria Police, some unstaffed


Most drivers heading north were through in minutes, with those waved into the queue of five waiting officers asked to first display their drivers licence.

Bar codes on the back of licences were scanned using an electronic device, with drivers then asked about their journey. Many said they were going to the nearby town of Wallan for work. Some showed work passes to back up their story or were asked for the names of job sites.

Police wearing masks and gloves stop drivers at a checkpoint on the Hume Freeway.

Police wearing masks and gloves stop drivers at a checkpoint on the Hume Freeway.Credit:Jason South

A police officer said he had not had to fine or turn anyone around in about 90 minutes of working on the roadblock. Those furthest from their destination were some NSW residents who were travelling to Bondi, the officer said.

“There’s a few roadblocks for them between here and there,” he said. On the Calder Freeway, a similar checkpoint was operating just south of Gisborne. Like on the Hume, it was a quick process for most who were stopped.

Earlier in the morning, a caller to radio station 3AW said the checkpoint was set up but was not stopping any cars.

Wayne said he had no problems travelling to Bendigo for work: “I’ve just been through Gisborne. [At] the Gisborne South exit there’s roadblocks set up – that’s all great – I’m thinking, ‘I’m not going to get away from the ring of steel’. I drive through, they’ve got all the roadblocks up, but nobody’s home.”

There were also roadblocks at Melton, Coldstream, Longwarry, Avalon and Lang Lang.

Motorists faced 45-minute delays for part of the morning on the Geelong-bound lanes of the Princes Freeway near Avalon, callers to ABC Melbourne said.

Police also set up checkpoints on South Road in Bentleigh and Royal Parade in Parkville, asking motorists why they were on the road during the lockdown.



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Serving detective accuses police command of intentionally derailing murder inquiry


The conduct allegedly included obstructing the homicide investigation by withholding evidence, interfering in the questioning of a suspect and providing potentially confidential information to Ms Gobbo while she was a person of interest in the case.

Terence and Christine Hodson, who were murdered in their home in May 2004

Terence and Christine Hodson, who were murdered in their home in May 2004

Sergeant Solomon’s account has also been backed in a sworn statement provided by the lead investigator into the Hodson murders, former detective Cameron Davey, who is now an investigator at the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission.

Lawyers for the royal commission have since sought another, more detailed statement from Mr Davey that further documents the steps allegedly taken by senior police to conceal Ms Gobbo’s history from investigators when she became a key witness in the prosecution of Mr Dale.

Sergeant Solomon does not individually name those who he believes were the “powerful force” at police command during the time he was senior investigator at Petra from 2007 to 2010.

The allegations are particularly damning because they come from Sergeant Solomon, a highly respected officer who has run some of the most prominent homicide investigations in the state’s recent history, including the 2017 Bourke Street incident and the murders of Karen Chetcuti and Aiia Maasarwe.

Nicola Gobbo during an interview with the ABC's 7.30 program last year.

Nicola Gobbo during an interview with the ABC’s 7.30 program last year.Credit:ABC

Victoria Police declined to comment on the contents of Sergeant Solomon’s and Mr Davey’s statements because the matters raised are still before the royal commission.

Despite one of the most intensive police investigations ever, the 2004 execution-style murders of the Hodsons remains unsolved. The couple were shot and killed in their Kew home in May 2004 after a leaked police file revealed that veteran criminal Terence Hodson had become a police informer.

Petra’s prime suspect for ordering the hit was former drug squad detective Paul Dale, who had also been implicated by Hodson in the burglary of a drug house. Mr Dale denies involvement in any crime.

The prosecution case against Mr Dale collapsed in 2010 after Ms Gobbo refused to testify and the star witness, drug kingpin Carl Williams, was murdered in prison.

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton testifying at the royal commission

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton testifying at the royal commission

But Sergeant Solomon alleges Petra’s work had already been undermined by senior officers and members of the source development unit who were determined to prevent exposure of Ms Gobbo’s work as a registered police informer from 2005 to 2009.

The unit was responsible for running Ms Gobbo and distributing the intelligence she collected. She provided information on a who’s who of Melbourne’s underworld, including some of her own clients.

Ms Gobbo became embroiled in the Petra murder inquiry because of suspicions she was involved in leaking the file on Hodson, and the discovery of questionable connections she had with Mr Dale and Williams, who allegedly hired a hitman at Mr Dale’s request. Ms Gobbo denies leaking the file and there is no suggestion she was aware of the alleged murder plot.

Sergeant Solomon has previously alleged in a sworn statement to the royal commission from January 2019 that senior police unduly interfered in the day-to-day operation of the taskforce, including setting strict requirements over how investigators could interact with Ms Gobbo and insisting she could never appear as a witness.

Former detective Paul Dale leaving the royal commission after testifying in May 2019

Former detective Paul Dale leaving the royal commission after testifying in May 2019Credit:Jason South

But after reviewing evidence later given at the royal commission by senior figures, including former chief commissioner Graham Ashton and Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius, Sergeant Solomon and Mr Davey filed new statements in March 2020. They were released by the royal commission this week.

“Looking back, I wonder how on earth my team managed to progress the investigation to where we got it, that is, to arrests, charges and committal, with so much turmoil and interference going on in the background,” Sergeant Solomon wrote.

This included somebody allegedly providing Ms Gobbo with information about the murder investigation and how it related to her, withholding evidence from investigators about the relationship between Ms Gobbo and Mr Dale, and interfering with a potential suspect ahead of a lie detector test.

Sergeant Solomon and Mr Davey have also documented the lengths other officers allegedly went to to conceal Ms Gobbo’s history as an informer even after she became a key witness against Dale.

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“Neither of us was aware of Gobbo’s true status. We were never told, and it seems obvious now that important matters which were occurring impacting on our efforts to solve this murder were deliberately kept from us which I will never reconcile,” he wrote.

The process of obstruction allegedly culminated in Sergeant Solomon being removed as head investigator in 2010 for what he claimed was “no justifiable reason”.

“I suspect it was done to keep from me the fact that Gobbo was a registered informer and to be able to manage the risk of disclosure with me out of the picture.”

Mr Solomon and Mr Davey have also challenged testimony to the royal commission from one of their former managers, Inspector Steven Smith. Mr Smith claimed both detectives had been aware Ms Gobbo was a registered informer from at least July 2008, when it was discussed at a Petra briefing.

But Mr Solomon and Mr Davey deny that disclosure ever occurred.

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Local News - Victoria

ADF and police to man ‘rolling’ borders in Melbourne lockdown


“It has to be done. I do understand that,” Mr Kandel said. “But as a business we do suffer heavily under lockdown.”

Newly appointed Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said police from outside Melbourne were being called in to assist with enforcement as the state’s 500-strong COVID-19 taskforce prepares to increase by “several hundred” officers.

The force is preparing for a rise in fines issued to people caught breaching restrictions, with calls to the state’s Police Assistance Line soaring from a recent average of 60 a day to more than 800 on Tuesday.

“It won’t be an absolute ring of steel, but there’s going to be a significant police presence on a whole among those main arterial roads. [Those] you’d expect to see, on the Hume Freeway heading out to the Calder and going down to Geelong, heading to Gippsland,” Mr Patton said on Wednesday.

“We’re going to be there from midnight tonight, we’re going to be checking people, we’re going to be making sure they’re adhering to those guidelines.

“If you don’t have a reason to leave, you will be turned back around.”

Smaller communities south-west of Melbourne that straddle the lockdown border are bracing for possible confusion around stage three restrictions.

They include the town of Little River, which is divided by the river that forms the border between Wyndham Shire and the City of Greater Geelong.

Mr Patton said issues around staging checkpoints in such situations were still being worked through.

Police speak to drivers at a roadblock in the COVID-19 hotspot of Ascot Vale on Saturday.

Police speak to drivers at a roadblock in the COVID-19 hotspot of Ascot Vale on Saturday.Credit:Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

Police would meet with transport operators including regional train service V/Line to determine how the “rapidly unfolding” situation would be best addressed, he said.

“We’re not saying we’re going to be in absolutely every area, we’re going to have moving checkpoints,” the Chief Commissioner said.

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“It’ll be a little bit complex but we’re still working through that.”

Mr Patton, who as deputy commissioner was responsible for reviewing all fines issued to people caught breaching restrictions, said his replacement Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent would now oversee the mammoth task.

Victorians, he said, should be prepared for almost no discretion being given if they were caught doing the wrong thing.

“We’ve done this before. People know what to do,” Mr Patton said. “They know what to expect.”

Victoria recorded 134 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, 123 of which are under investigation.

Premier Daniel Andrews said that brought the total number of active cases in the state to 860, with 41 people undergoing treatment in hospital and seven people in intensive care.

Premier Daniel Andrews addresses the media on Wednesday.

Premier Daniel Andrews addresses the media on Wednesday.Credit:Jason South

He said the city must have a “hard border” to safeguard much of regional Victoria from the “significant community transmission” occurring in Melbourne.

“There will be a rigorous process, randomised but constant. It will be there throughout every day and every night to make sure only those who have a lawful reason … to travel to regional Victoria are doing that,” Mr Andrews said.

Police Minister Lisa Neville said authorities were bracing for a further spike in calls to the Police Assistance Line, with numbers of about 60 a day in May rising to 810 on Tuesday.

She encouraged Victorians to continue reporting obvious breaches.

Under the restrictions, there are only three reasons to leave metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire: shopping for food and essential items; medical care and care-giving; work and study if it cannot be done at home.

A government spokeswoman said public transport services across the state would continue to run as normal for people who need to make essential journeys in line with the three reasons to travel.

V/Line services that usually cross into NSW will terminate on the Victorian side of the border.

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Police murder probe far from over


It was nearly 22 years ago that Sergeant Gary Silk and Senior Constable Rod Miller left their unmarked police car to chat with the driver of a Hyundai sedan in Cochranes Road, Moorabbin.

Sergeant Gary Silk.

Sergeant Gary Silk.

It was part of a Melbourne-wide investigation, code-named Hamada, to sit near likely armed robbery targets in the hope of grabbing two gunmen who had pulled 10 stick-ups on suburban restaurants. Each robbery was carried out by an older man and a younger apprentice, both armed with handguns.

Silk and Miller, from the Elwood Regional Support Group, were assigned to watch the Silky Emperor restaurant in nearby Warrigal Road. The sedate Hyundai was hardly considered the getaway car of choice for bandits and perhaps that is why they didn’t call in the registration number. After all it was just a routine check.

There were no witnesses when the police were fatally shot with two handguns. The fact there were two guns used, the robberies were conducted by two men and Miller desperately fired shots in two directions led investigators to search for two gunmen.

As he lay dying Miller allegedly said there were two offenders, a statement immediately radioed to D24. “CHELTENHAM 206: He’s been shot twice, once in the chest, once in the stomach. He said there’s two offenders, there’s two on foot. There’s two on foot, at this stage no idea of direction of travel from here.”

Rod Miller and wife Carmel Arthur.

Rod Miller and wife Carmel Arthur.Credit:The Age

Five first responders say Miller said two offenders while others at the scene didn’t hear the reference.

A taskforce codenamed Lorimer was set up, largely consisting of armed robbery and homicide detectives. The two-year investigation led to the arrests of Bandali Debs, 47, and his daughter’s boyfriend Jason Roberts, 19.

At their trial both denied they were the killers or the robbers. The jury didn’t believe them. In 2003 Debs was sentenced to life with no minimum and has since been convicted over two more murders. Roberts was sentenced to life with a minimum of 35 years.

In 2016 mandatory life sentences for all police killers became law, meaning Roberts was ultimately re-sentenced by Parliament. If he doesn’t win the appeal he is likely to die in jail.

Roberts pushed for his case to be reviewed. He now says while he was Debs’ partner in all the 1998 robberies and helped cover up the police murders he was not in the Hyundai in Cochranes Road.

Debs, he contends, acted alone. In late 2013 veteran homicide investigator Ron Iddles produced a report declaring a miscarriage of justice.

In July 2017 Attorney General Martin Pakula refused to send the case to the Court of Appeal saying there was no new compelling evidence.

It looked as if the case was finally closed. That is until a statement turned up, made by Glenn Pullin, one of the first police to arrive at Cochranes Road.

In that statement, taken hours after the shooting, Pullin (badly shaken and later diagnosed with PTSD) made no mention that Miller said there were two offenders.

But in his statement, altered ten months later and submitted to court as original, Pullin says he did hear Miller say there were two.

Now this is a different ball game altogether. If police fabricated evidence to “prove” there was a second offender (which had to be Roberts) the conviction is unsound.

Rightly it was sent to the Court of Appeal that found in March there was sufficient concern to review the case.

The court said Roberts’ case relied on claims evidence and testimony gathered by IBAC established, “An officer or officers of Victoria Police fabricated evidence relating to [dying] statements made by Senior Constable Miller.”

This relates largely, but not exclusively, to the Pullin statements over what he heard Miller say. But what if that assertion is wrong? What if the evidence before IBAC (and the trial) was not fabricated?

What if IBAC found the altered statements submitted to court from Pullin contained no fake facts? What if he did hear Miller say two offenders?

The call to D24 that Miller said two offenders came directly from Pullin repeating to a third officer, Colin Clarke, the dying policeman’s words.

Should not the Court of Appeal be provided with the IBAC report to come to its own conclusions?

The IBAC investigation (code named Gloucester) was not a probe into the guilt or innocence of Roberts. It was into the procedures used by investigators and those conclusions will not be pretty, finding police used improper methods to gather evidence and failed to disclose statements weren’t originals.

So why were the initial statements shoddy? Let’s go back to the night for a moment. It was chaotic. One senior officer, more interested in his career than justice, walked up to the coroner near Gary Silk’s body to say, “I want it recorded that I opposed this operation.” A veteran armed robbery squad detective who overheard the conversation briefly considered punching him in the face.

Cochranes Road the day after.

Cochranes Road the day after.Credit:Jason South

Back at the Moorabbin police station near dawn there wasn’t enough computers to take statements, police from the scene were in shock, some were crying, and others were sleeping on desks. Then the word came through Rod had died.

Later attempts to review and alter statements were to tidy up loose ends. The trouble was they tried to hide the loose ends completely.

There was no conspiracy to railroad Roberts as he didn’t become a suspect until five months after Pullin’s statement was altered. Five police heard Miller’s dying declaration (backed by the D24 tape), notes taken at the time referred to two offenders and there was no fake evidence.

Police statements were altered and upgraded (in itself not unlawful), the originals destroyed (which is) meaning defence lawyers at the first trial were robbed of the legitimate tactic of casting doubt on the first responders’ declarations.

While Miller did declare two offenders that doesn’t alter the fact the defence should have been told original statements were reviewed, clarified and altered.

In approving the right to appeal the Court of Appeal found, “It may be inferred that if the changes to the [Pullin] statement had been known to have been made 10 months after the first statement, then the course of cross-examination may have been radically different. “

At the appeal Robert’s barrister Peter Matthews said at the initial trial there had been a “deliberate manipulation of the evidence”, that was so contrary to the spirit of justice Roberts should be freed without retrial.

In the case of Cardinal George Pell the High Court released him because it found the jury should have acquitted. In the Roberts appeal this is clearly not the case. The argument is if the defence had a chance to damage Pullin’s credibility then a jury could have acquitted.

Another issue for the Court of Appeal is if you let the conviction stand you are rewarding sloppy, improper and possibly illegal police practices.

If the appeal is allowed police and the Office of Public Prosecutions are geared for a retrial and are confident of a conviction.

Bandali Debs was sentenced to life in jail.

Bandali Debs was sentenced to life in jail.Credit:Joe Arrmao

They argue that Roberts’ admission he was Debs’ armed robbery partner in the 10 stick-ups means he would have been there for the one they were to commit at The Silky Emperor, and he was in the Hyundai.

Debs liked to have a junior robbery partner.

A police image of the man seen beside the stopped car when Rod Miller and Gary Silk were killed, released within days of the murders and based on descriptions by senior constables Frank Bendeich and Darren Sherren. This cannot possibly be Debs, which means there must have been two men present.

A police image of the man seen beside the stopped car when Rod Miller and Gary Silk were killed, released within days of the murders and based on descriptions by senior constables Frank Bendeich and Darren Sherren. This cannot possibly be Debs, which means there must have been two men present. Credit:Victoria Police

Between 1991 and 1994 he committed 28 armed robberies with a second young partner. They only stopped when they were nearly caught on October 9, 1994, during a stick-up in Patterson Lakes.

The Lorimer Taskforce found Debs and Roberts, “Were constantly involved in criminal activity together, such as thefts, burglaries and armed robberies. The evidence shows that the accused spent many nights together stealing.”

The D24 tape is not the only independent audio indicating there were two offenders. This is from Debs’ own mouth in a bugged conversation discussing the murders.

“Those were the ones [Silk/Miller] that were sittin’ there, when we drove in just to quickly look [at the restaurant], they seen us so they drove behind us, and drove down the street to stop us, they stopped us. Then it’s not good . . . . Cause we heard it on this, we heard it on that [police radio], they said oh one is gone [Silk] we can’t find the other one [Miller]. After we left they come in 30 or 40 seconds. Thirty or 40 seconds they were there, that means they had a few [police] cars in the area.”

It all happened nearly 22 years ago but it is far from over.

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Police raid Wirecard HQ as administrator kicks off asset sales


They are also now investigating Wirecard’s Chief Financial Officer Alexander von Knoop and Chief Product Officer Susanne Steidl, in addition to former Chief Executive Markus Braun and operations boss Jan Marsalek.

None of the four could immediately be reached for comment.

Braun, who is Austrian, was arrested last week and released on bail. Germany has issued an arrest warrant for Marsalek, who was last believed to be in the Philippines. His lawyer declined to comment. Von Knoop and Steidl were still working for Wirecard, according to recent information from the company.

In parliament, the head of Germany’s financial regulator BaFin defended its record in the face of criticism that its supervision of Wirecard was lax.

‘Round-tripping’

BaFin, which oversaw Wirecard’s banking subsidiary, has taken most of the flak for the scandal so far. Sources have told Reuters that regulators discussed labelling Wirecard a financial holding company in 2017 and 2019, which would have allowed BaFin greater scrutiny, but took no action.

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BaFin President Felix Hufeld told lawmakers in a closed-door session the decision not to change Wirecard’s status was taken with the Bundesbank and European Central Bank (ECB), according to his spokeswoman, who stressed Hufeld did not blame the ECB.

The ECB declined to comment.

The central bank and financial services regulator in Mauritius said on Wednesday they had launched an investigation into whether Wirecard was linked to “round-tripping” with an entity registered in the offshore African financial centre.

Round-tripping is a kind of accounting fraud that entails booking fake transactions with counterparties that appear to be at arms length but are not, and is typically undertaken by companies seeking to inflate reported revenues.

Wirecard’s administrator Michael Jaffe, meanwhile, has started scouting for potential buyers of the company’s assets to recoup some money for creditors. He said investors from around the world had contacted him already.

Wirecard’s US subsidiary – which was Citi Prepaid Card Services before Wirecard bought it in 2016 – has already been put on the block.

Police and prosecutors raided in Wirecard's headquarters in Munich, Germany, on Wednesday.

Police and prosecutors raided in Wirecard’s headquarters in Munich, Germany, on Wednesday.Credit:Bloomberg

Investment banking boutique Moelis has been hired to find a buyer for the US business while Alvarez & Marsal is sounding out interest in Wirecard’s UK subsidiary, according to people familiar with the matter.

Alvarez & Marsal declined to comment while Moelis was not immediately available for comment.

“For any buyer, the most interesting aspect may be Wirecard’s customer list and the contracts for processing payments for credit card firms,” one investment banker said.

Losing patience

Wirecard, which was founded in 1999, started out handling payments for gambling and adult websites and now processes payments for major global companies including Visa and Mastercard.

Jaffe has started marketing Wirecard’s assets to rivals such as Ingenico, Adyen, Worldline and Nets, as well as to banks and private equity groups, though time was of the essence, people familiar with the matter said.

“Key customers and employees are starting to turn their backs on Wirecard, significantly reducing its value. If Visa and Mastercard pull out it’s game over,” one of the people said.

While some of the operating assets were expected to find new homes, the fate of Wirecard’s bank – which has been ring-fenced to prevent any outflow of cash – remains unclear.

“Wirecard Bank is still not insolvent. Payouts to merchants and customers of Wirecard Bank are being executed without restrictions,” the administrator said.

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While the administrator may recover some money from selling Wirecard’s assets, some creditors are losing patience.

British bank Lloyds sold a €120 million tranche of Wirecard’s revolving credit facility to 10 investors at about 24 cents on the euro, a person close to the matter said, adding that other creditors were also trying to offload loans.

German asset manager Union Investment, which had big investment in Wirecard, followed other investors in saying it was considering legal action.

Wirecard bondholders are also discussing whether or not they can take legal action against the banks that organised the sale of the securities, according to a source close to the investors.

Reuters

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Heritage Victoria, police launch investigation into Brighton house fires


“Spurling House was the architectural innovation that introduced the iconic North American shingle style home to Melbourne back in 1888.’’

Spurling House before it was damaged in a fire in October 2015.

Spurling House before it was damaged in a fire in October 2015.

The heritage listed home was built for Phillis Spurling by the Canadian architect John Horbury Hunt, one of the first important North American architects to practise in Australia. Spurling House is his only known work in Victoria.

Spurling House was then included in the Victorian Heritage Register in 1974 for its architectural and historical significance to the State of Victoria.

The design is notable for being the first Victorian house to be built in the Shingle style, a North American technique that used organic materials in a way that elevated their natural qualities.

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In January, the owner of the historic 131-year-old house lost their battle with the Heritage Council to demolish the property after arguing the 2015 fire had left the property uninhabitable because it is infested with mould.

At the time, Heritage Victoria said the demolition would result in the complete loss of the cultural heritage significance of the place.

Heritage Victoria subsequently issued two repair orders to the house’s owner, which required works to be carried out to prevent the further deterioration of the building.

This prompted the owner to launch an appeal against the repair orders in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Spurling House has since been demolished in compliance with an emergency order issued by the City of Bayside, following the most recent fire.

Heritage Victoria said there were about 2300 places included on the Victorian Heritage Register including Flinders Street Railway Station, Parliament House, the Murtoa Stick Shed and the Brighton Bathing Boxes.

Spurling House in Brighton in January 2020 before the second blaze.

Spurling House in Brighton in January 2020 before the second blaze.Credit:Eddie Jim

It is an offence under the Heritage Act 2017 to demolish, damage or despoil a place on the Victorian Heritage Register. Anyone convicted faces fines of up to $793,056 and, or five years’ jail.

Moorabbin Crime Investigation Unit detectives are investigating whether both attacks are linked.

A police spokeswoman said a person previously contacted Crime Stoppers regarding this matter with investigators believing there are others who may also have information.

Police are urging these people, or anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or online at crimestoppersvic.com.au.

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BMW found as police investigate Cranbourne man‘s murder


A silver BMW found abandoned in a quiet Cranbourne street could be the key to unlocking the murder mystery of Melbourne man Michael Mammone.

The 47-year-old’s 2008 BMW 118i sedan was found in Miller Court, Cranbourne on Saturday night less than one kilometre from where his body was discovered dumped next to a primary school the day before.

Homicide Squad detectives are yet to reveal if the car contained any clues that could help in solving Mr Mammone’s murder, but the street where it was found was scattered with home CCTV cameras.

Mr Mammone’s body was found in a car park at Cranbourne’s Donnelly Recreational Reserve next to Rangebank Primary School by a father and his children at 7.15am on Friday.

His devastated daughter Brodie Mammone told reporters she had no idea why he was killed.

She said those responsible had “ruined a family beyond recognition”.

“There is no coming back from this,” she said.

“They’ve robbed a niece and my daughter from having their grandfather in their life.”

At this stage it’s not known what time Mr Mammone’s body was left in the car park, and detectives are keen to speak to anyone who noticed suspicious activity in the area on Thursday night or Friday morning.

Police are also urging anyone driving through the area with dashcam footage in the 24 hours prior to the discovery of his body to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.



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