Corruption among Australian airport, customs, law enforcement employees

Discussion in 'Aviation Passenger Security in Other Countries' started by Mike, Dec 21, 2012.

  1. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    It's not just our own CBP and an occasional baggage handler that's up for sale ...

    Western Australia Today: Corruption across the nation's borders


    According to security expert and former senior government official Neil Fergus, a corrupt customs insider can help organised criminals defeat any security system. "Corrupt customs officers, they know how the system works," he says. If they are in a position "where they can support organised crime … [they] are undermining the entire organisation."

    In 2005 Fergus was one of three leading security experts (including Sir John Wheeler) who led Australia's biggest review of airport security. The review was prompted by allegations of corruption inside Australian airports, first made in late 2004 by supporters of drug smuggler Schapelle Corby and later, in May 2005, in a leaked customs intelligence report that warned baggage handlers and other workers at Sydney airport were involved in drug trafficking.

    Wheeler and Fergus's final report in September 2005 (known as the Wheeler report) was damning. It found that ''policing at major airports in Australia is often inadequate and dysfunctional, and security systems are typically unco-ordinated''.

    It also said there was a culture of underreporting, and tolerance, of theft at airports and cargo areas and that terminal staff who had ''major criminal associations'' were gaining access to secure areas, including baggage screening zones. ''At its most basic, a culture of lax security or petty criminality can provide opportunities for terrorists to exploit weaknesses in airport security,'' the report warned. Not surprisingly, the report led to promises by the federal government of an immediate overhaul of airport policing, with federal agents to take the lead policing airports role around the country.


    The ACC responded by summoning airport staff for questioning at secret star-chamber hearings, where suspects were required to answer questions honestly or risk jail. Soon, it was looking at the waterfront as well.

    In 2009 the ACC gave state and federal police forces copies of its investigation, the Crime in The Transport Sector inquiry. A public summary of the ACC's confidential findings said they included ''a comprehensive picture of control system weaknesses, which provide opportunities for criminal exploitation within these (maritime and aviation) environments''.


    But these successful operations - both men have recently been convicted of drug trafficking - only increased mutterings in policing and political circles about serious problems in customs. Much of it was generated by policing agencies, who believed customs had become more drug-trade facilitator than detector.


    A confidential report in February 2012 by a NSW anti-waterfront corruption policing taskforce Polaris left no one who read it in any doubt that this was indeed the case. "Polaris investigations have identified employees of law enforcement and regulatory bodies providing assistance to criminal groups.

    ''This assistance is less common but of higher consequence than private-sector corruption. The employees have included members of customs and employees of AQIS [the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service]," it said.

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