Costigan Commission Going After Kerry Packer

Written by:
Greg Tingle
Published on:

G'day punters, casino and gambling millionaires and billionaires, media magnates, journalists, legal eagles, Big and all. Yes, today we bring you a special Kerry Packer tax history special. The legend lives on, but today its not a Kerry Packer artistic endeavor. No, that was last month. We're on the hard nosed issue of tax and political 'fun and games'. There's also a tie in with the Costigan Commission. No, different "Costigan" that the one most readers will be familiar with! In the meantime 'Our James' (James Packer) continues to fly the flag and do the family legacy proud with his Crown Limited empire. Media Man and Gambling911 present The Kerry Packer taxing report...

The senior legal eagle, a barrister no less, who assisted the Costigan royal commission has now revealed that apparently a 'brief for prosecution' was at the ready to fire all guns blazing against Kerry Packer for tax evasion.

Could this all just be an attempt at positive PR for the Australian Tax Office and the Aussie government in general? Folks, you will just have to keep reading won't you, and after that you might be in the mood to spin to win on Cleo or The Godfather hey.

Three wise men...yes, three of the senior barristers aka 'wigs' recommended prosecution. Were they just trying to get even on a "rich bastard"? (KP).

Speaking to the hard core release of the said documents relating to the establishment of the Painters and Dockers royal commission some 3 decades ago, Doug Meagher QC (Queens Council) told Rupert Murdoch's News Limited "I had no doubt that the allegations against Packer called for very serious investigation. Very much so."

It was on site at KP's state memorial service at the Sydney Opera House in 2006, his son, James, described the Costigan commission as the darkest chapter in his father's life. His father had never forgiven Costigan and "nor could we".

The quite public slanging match and occasional war of worlds, with a dash of media war, has survived the death of both Packer, in December 2005, and Costigan, in April 2009.

Meagher has now disclosed that briefs for prosecution were prepared against Packer in relation to tax evasion after the commission was closed and what would have seemed to be dead and buried, so to speak.

Costigan had told him 3 "very senior counsel" based in 'Sin City' Sydney "each looked at them independently and recommended prosecution, but it didn't occur".

"Packer was a man of great influence," Meagher said. "He wasn't cleared. Not at all."

After JP (James Packer) attacked Costigan, Meagher advised him against responding. "I certainly wouldn't have. I would have just ignored the attack."

The quite sensational allegations were the gold nuggets in a report for the incoming National Crime Authority circa 1984, in which Costigan provided case summaries of many, perhaps dozens we understand, incomplete investigations, code-naming the targets!

One concerned Packer, code-named the Squirrel. It linked Australia's richest man to tax evasion, drug trafficking, pornography and a murder.

The sensational report was leaked to the now defunct Fairfax owned National Times, which published it in full in September 1984, only changing the code-name to "the Goanna" (no, not squirrel). Oh, animal lovers, do check out our feature on gambling animals, birds and other wildlife from the past few months, but on with the story at hand.

It was under massive speculation, Packer identified himself as "the Goanna" and his lawyer, a young Malcolm 'No Bull' Turnbull, wrote up an 8000-word public denial, naming the "gutter allegations" as "grotesque, ludicrous and malicious".

KP had become a prime target with neon bulls eye of the commission in October 1983 over $225,000 grand he had secured from Surfers Paradise property developer tycoon Brian 'Rich' Ray some 3 years prior.

Ray had caught a flight to 'Sin' Sydney to hand Packer a modest $50,000 grand in hold hard cash, while his biz partner Ian Beames had dropped off payments of $100,000 grand and another $75k. Pretty fantastic hey.

Packer later advised the commission he'd had a quite a bad day at the races and Ray, who at the time was in a bankruptcy arrangement with his creditors, had offered to lend him the money.

Quizzed why he wanted it in cash, Packer replied..."I wanted it in cash because I like cash. I have a squirrel-like mentality."

Ray and Beames were later charged, along with a number others, of conspiring to defraud the commonwealth of $16 mill in so called "bottom of the harbour" tax schemes, Australia's biggest tax evasion racket in history. Beames pleaded guilty. Ray, who died in a plane crash in July 2005, was acquitted in March 1987.

He celebrated and threw a hell of a party on the Gold Coast attended by the whose who...Queensland premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen, businessman John 'Singo' Singleton and Kerry Packer, where Sir Joh wanted folks to know his thoughts with his announcement "I have always been proud to have Brian as a friend and to know he is on my team."

Federal attorney-general Lionel Bowen told the parliament there was no basis to justify any charges against Packer, who was "entitled to be regarded by his fellow citizens as unsullied by the allegations and insinuations which have been made against him".

A touch odd, the Fraser government established the Costigan commission after a series of articles about murders on the Sydney waterfront in Packer's now defunct ACP (Australian Consolidated Press) magazine The Bulletin aka 'The Bully', and a tad of extra coverage in Playboy. Well, they say folks buy it for the articles, and maybe they are right.

Folks, stay tuned for more on the life of times of the late, great, Kerry Packer. Hell of a nice and smart bloke our late mate Tim 'Earthquake' Bristow told me, but as they say, "dead men don't tell tales". We know you'll be glued to this dial as more of the 'Real Life Underbelly' true tales of 'Sin City' Sydney continue to be dug up.

Wrap Up...

Readers... er, punters, how did you like The Kerry Packer Tax Special? Tell us in the forum.

If you have a bet, please bet with your head, not over it, and for God's sake, have fun.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man  is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. They cover a dozen industry sectors including gaming and offer political commentary and analysis.

*The writer owns shares in Crown Limited

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