A Melbourne law firm raided by the Victoria Police anti-bikie taskforce last week has been seized from its partners and placed in the hands of a manager chosen by the legal regulator.
- Managing partner at Holding Redlich will take over day-to-day control of Stanton Grant Legal
- Police from the anti-bikie Echo taskforce executed search warrants last week at Stanton Grant
- One of the people believed to have been targeted by the raids was self-described “forensic accountant” David Graer
South Melbourne firm Stanton Grant Legal was one of dozens of homes and businesses raided as part of an investigation into alleged money laundering by the Comancheros outlaw motorcycle gang.
The Legal Services Board has now appointed Howard Rapke, a managing partner at the law firm Holding Redlich, as manager of Stanton Grant Legal, giving him control of the day-to-day running of the firm.
Mr Rapke confirmed the appointment, but told the ABC he could not comment on why the board had installed him and how long he would have control of the practice.
The board can install a manager if it feels the interests of a firm’s clients need safeguarding.
Lawyer John Voitin was until recently listed as a partner on Stanton Grant’s website, but that page has now been deleted. The remaining partner is Bronwyn Goddard.
Police from the anti-bikie Echo taskforce executed search warrants last week at Stanton Grant and a number of other businesses, including accountants, gyms, brothels, tattoo parlours and other legal firms.
They charged nine people with a range of offences, including false accounting, drug possession, recklessly dealing with the proceeds of crime and firearms offences.
At the time, police said the businesses they targeted were suspected of being “used as a front for organised crime activities and … used in money-laundering activities”.
Prominent Comanchero called in by secretive agency
One of the people believed to have been targeted by the raids was self-described “forensic accountant” David Graer, who has been linked to a property developer under investigation by the Australian Taxation Office for allegedly evading tax on the sale of apartments.
Although Mr Graer was not charged by police, a building in Braeside targeted in last week’s raids was until recently occupied by two of Mr Graer’s companies.
Last year, the ABC filmed Mr Graer and the property developer, Kevin Mingarelli, together outside the office of Stanton Grant, despite the two men claiming they had no relationship with each other.
A house next door to Mr Mingarelli’s bayside home was later peppered with bullets by unknown persons in what police and neighbours believe was an attack aimed at the developer’s home.
The ABC has also been told by a number of sources that Mr Graer has links to prominent Comanchero Mick Murray, who is currently imprisoned after refusing to answer questions at the secretive Office of the Chief Examiner, an agency set up to help police investigate serious organised crime.
In a Supreme Court hearing last week, Murray was jailed for eight months for contempt of the chief examiner after refusing to answer questions during an examination last year.
The judgement, published this week, shows that Murray refused to even take the oath of affirmation when asked.
“Mate, this is very, very simple. This is set up for people to lag. I’m not a dog. I’m not answering questions. I’m not lagging anyone,” Murray is quoted as saying.
“Can’t make it any more simple than that. You guys are gonna ask questions about people that I might know or know. I’m not gonna answer any questions.”
It is not clear what Murray was to be questioned about, but the judgement quotes the Chief Examiner as saying he wanted to question the bikie enforcer about four alleged offences.
Murray responded: “Mate, this place is the worst-kept secret in Melbourne. Everyone knows who’s been to the Crimes Commission. Everyone knows who’s talks about these types of things. This is not a secret. You guys can try and keep it a secret. It’s not.”