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TravelGuides – Former Labor MP Craig Thomson granted bail after being charged over alleged migration fraud | Craig Thomson

TravelGuides – Former Labor MP Craig Thomson granted bail after being charged over alleged migration fraud | Craig Thomson

The former Labor MP for Dobell and trade union leader Craig Thomson has been granted bail in Gosford local court but has surrendered his passport and agreed not to approach any witnesses involved in a complex visa scheme.

Wearing a white open-neck shirt, Thomson appeared by video link from Gosford police station and was represented in court by another Labor figure, the former New South Wales secretary of the ALP, Jamie Clements.

Thomson has been charged with allegedly facilitating more than 130 fraudulent visa applications – focusing on the food service and regional farmworker industries – over four years, resulting in more than $2m allegedly being gained from this activity.

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The multi-agency investigation, led by the AFP and comprising the Australian Border Force (ABF), Austrac, the taxation office and Department of Home Affairs – allegedly found evidence of a scheme intended to defraud legitimate visa programs.

Chelsea Brain, for the commonwealth director of public prosecutions, opposed bail, saying Thomson was an “unacceptable flight risk” because he had significant contacts in India and there was evidence he had been attempting to access his superannuation.

She also told the court the AFP had evidence that after his first interview with police in July 2021 he had attempted to tamper with evidence.

She said the commonwealth would allege Thomson was “a facilitator” of the visa scheme and though he had not lodged the fraudulent applications himself, he was the “common thread” between the more than 130 applications that are the subject of the case.

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She said if found guilty he faced a lengthy custodial sentence.

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Clements told the court his client would plead not guilty and needed bail to prepare for what was likely to be a lengthy and complex case.

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“Mr Thomson denies wrongdoing and will defend the charges vigorously,” he said.

He said his client did not pose a flight risk because of his deep ties to the community and his three young children.

Clements said Thomson had recently separated from his partner.

“He is a family man and his children are what he has left. Why would he flee the jurisdiction never to return and never to see his children?”

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Clements said his client had no assets and that any property was in his wife’s name. He said he was not able to offer a substantial surety.

He also argued that while Thomson agreed not to run his labour hire company, he should be allowed to continue to run his fruit and vegetable export business to India.

Magistrate J Price granted bail, subject to conditions including that Thomson surrender his passport, not approach an international airport or port, and not approach a long list of people who are either witnesses or co-accused.

Thomson will also have to report daily to Terrigal police station and cannot travel outside greater Sydney or Newcastle area.

He is permitted one mobile phone, which he must register with police, and he is not to download any encrypted apps.

TravelGuides – Former Labor MP Craig Thomson granted bail after being charged over alleged migration fraud | Craig Thomson

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