Clive Palmer’s media adviser Andrew Crook has been arrested by Queensland Police as part of an investigation into the alleged kidnapping of a National Australia Bank executive in Indonesia.
The ABC is reporting police have also detained Gold Coast private investigator Mick Featherstone and issued a warrant for former Sydney Swans player Tony Smith, who lives in Bali.
Crook has reportedly been detained after police raided his home earlier today.
As well as being a long-serving adviser to businessman-turned-politician Clive Palmer, Crook’s company, Crook Media, is a public relations firm with a large portfolio of clients including Flight Centre, Ray White real estate, Di Bella coffee and legal giant Slater + Gordon.
Palmer confirmed Crook had been detained at his offices in Brisbane and suggested that the police investigation might be a political conspiracy, saying it seemed “coincidental that this is happening just before the state election”.
Police said while its criminal economy team was investigating another matter they uncovered evidence which resulted in the arrest of two men in Queensland today.
“The charges stem from an elaborate scheme which police will allege was planned partly in Queensland with key elements executed in Singapore and Indonesia before returning to Queensland where the offences were committed,” Queensland Police said.
Police said the arrested people are a 51-year-old man from the Gold Coast and 48-year-old man from the Brisbane suburb of New Farm. The third man, aged 48, is not currently in Australia and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
According to the ABC police are investigating claims Crook and Smith used a possible job offer from Clive Palmer to lure the executive to Singapore and on to Batam Island in Indonesia.
It is not thought Palmer had any involvement or knowledge of the alleged incident in question.
Police will allege Crook and Smith in January last year were involved in an attempt to coerce a witness in a $70 million civil case. They will also allege the pair threatened violence if the NAB employee didn’t retract his evidence.
They will also allege the witness was strip-searched and forced to make a statement retracting his evidence.
Smith has been involved in a legal battle against NAB since 2009 in which claims have been made the bank caused him to lose $70 million during the GFC.
NAB confirmed it has provided Queensland Police with details of “unsolicited approaches made to an employee in regards to evidence they gave in a civil court trial involving a former customer”.
“NAB’s primary concern is for the safety and well-being of its employee and their family,” a spokesperson from the bank said.
“This has been a difficult time for our employee. They have been concerned for their own safety and that of their family.
“Our employee has done nothing wrong. Our employee did the right thing in reporting these approaches when they happened.
“These are serious matters that should now be investigated and dealt with by Queensland Police and any other relevant authority.
“NAB will continue to co-operate with Queensland Police to provide any further information required as part of the police investigation.”
Palmer said he was “concerned to know” what the matter is allegedly about and that he had no knowledge of any allegations.
Palmer said he was worried police had seized Crook’s computers which hold information about the Palmer United Party’s strategies for the Queensland state election.
Detective Superintendent Michael Niland and Detective Inspector Phil Stevens from Taskforce Maxima will hold a media conference this afternoon.
Crook Media has been contacted for comment.
More to come.
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