CJC warned about Mr X case

by Chris Griffith
Published 19 May 1996 in The Sunday Mail


my face


Outspoken Queensland MP Vince Lester yesterday warned that the Criminal Justice Commission could be held in contempt if it had misrepresented the truth in its report on the infamous Mr X international car scam.

The CJC's report dealing with Mr X was tabled in State Parliament last week.

While on a CJC witness protection program, the 31-year-old Mackay man accepted tens of thousands of dollars from over a dozen victims to import customised American cars and motorcyles, and to convert them to right-hand drive.

However, he failed to deliver.

According to the CJC report, between 1989-1995 Mr X used five different names and proceeded to make a mockery of Australian authorities. He held Victorian birth certificates under four names, Victorian drivers' licences under three names, Queensland drivers' licenses under three names, and two Australian passports.

But in its report the CJC said it had "no knowledge" of Mr X's "renewed business activities" while under Witness Protection until September last year.

When Mr X fled to the United States in September last year, CJC officers said they were unaware that Mr X was returning calls to them from the USA while still under their care.

"The CJC still had possession of Mr X's passport, and at no time provided him with a new identity or assisted him to change his identity," the report said.

Yesterday victims of the scam branded the report as a "whitewash" and "a farce" and said they would provide submissions on the report to Mr Lester. A meeting to discuss their responses would take place in Townsville this week.

They said they were preparing evidence which would show that some CJC officers were aware of Mr X's allegedly fraudulent activities and helped him establish economic credibility under at least one alias.

David Clay, a Rockhampton car dealer who gave $39,000 to Mr X, said he was seeking advice about taking civil action against the CJC for "inconsumable conduct and no duty of care".

Townsville-based victim Peter Collard said he was "disgusted" with the report. "The report is farcical and we'll be writing to Mr Lester as soon as we get together."

A third victim, who asked not to be identified, said at face value, the report inferred anyone who held a Victorian birth certificate could easily adopt alternative identities and, through the issue of multiple birth certificates, obtain passports, drivers licences, and credit cards under different names.

"This report suggests Australia is an open haven for criminals who can come and go from the country as they please on any passport of their choosing. It is a national joke if anyone can obtain multiple passports and six different drivers' licences without authorities giving a damn."

The report said three of Mr X's name changes were effected through applications to change his name sent to the Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in Victoria.

The forth name-change was accepted when Mr X applied for a Queensland drivers licence claiming he had changed his name by Deed Poll, when, according to the report, "his name was not changed by Deed Poll in southern Queensland or in Victoria".

Despite Mr Lester's committee drawing this report's attention to federal and state authorities, The Sunday Mail last week detected little enthusiasm for it by the Queensland Police, the Australian Federal Police, the Victorian Registrar, and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Queensland Police media spokesman Ian Hatcher said the police were yet to receive any official complaints about the activities of Mr X, a claim vehemently disputed by the three victims who said their complaints had been registered in Townsville and Rockhampton.

Mr Hatcher said: "At this point, we are not investigating anything to do with this case at all."

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Australian passports were regularly reissued in new names when women married and when migrants applied to shorten their names.

He said new passports still required the "original base documents" (birth certificates) which were not overridden by name changes by Deed Poll. He inferred the problem lay with Victorian authorities.

However a spokeswoman for the Victorian Registry of Birth, Deaths, and Marriages said Victoria was "happy" with its "very stringent requirements for making name changes to birth certificates".

An Australian Federal Police spokesperson said the AFP would investigate the issue of Mr X holding two passports "if the matter was referred to us by either immigration or foreign affairs".

Mr Lester yesterday hit out at this apparent lack of interest.

"What's the point of a committee reporting, making suggestions, and highlighting problems if nobody is going to take any concern? We expect the authorities to act, and I suggest they get off their tails otherwise there's no point in having these committees."

He said he would "most definitely" welcome the victims providing him with "the hard" evidence of flaws in the CJC's report.

by Chris Griffith