Written on the 6 January 2015 by Nick Nichols


FORMER Gold Coast tourism entrepreneur Tony Smith handed himself to police in Brisbane today after returning to Australia to face explosive allegations that he was involved in a plot to alter a witness's testimony.

Taskforce Maxima's Criminal Economy Team say they have charged Smith, 48, as part of ongoing investigations which have already seen Clive Palmer's former PR man Andrew Crook and Gold Coast private investigator Mick Featherstone also charged.

The charges are alleged to have arisen from an elaborate ruse by the accused to alter witness testimony in a $68 million civil action brought by Smith against the National Australia Bank.

News of the police investigation broke last month and Smith was said to have been prepared to return to Australia to answer the charges.

Smith, who built a fortune through the BreakFree holiday business before losing much of it following the collapse of former Gold Coast funds manager MFS, has been living in Bali where he has been developing and operating luxury resorts over the past four years.

Smith presented himself to police in Brisbane this morning and he has since been charged with one count each of retaliation of a witness, attempting to pervert the course of justice and attempted fraud.

Police allege that Smith, along with Crook and Featherstone, hatched a "desperate" and "elaborate" ruse to coerce an NAB executive into altering testimony he gave in a $68 million civil lawsuit brought by Smith in 2012.

They allege that the three lured the NAB employee to Bali and Singapore to an interview for a fictitious job as a global finance manager with an international company linked to Palmer. 

They say that Palmer had no knowledge of the matter and was an innocent victim of the ruse.

They allege that the accused then coerced the NAB employee to retract and change the evidence he gave during a civil trial after seizing his passport, wallet and mobile phone.

Police say the charges stem from an elaborate scheme that was planned partly in Queensland "with key elements executed in Singapore and Indonesia before returning to Queensland where the offences were committed".

"This matter has arisen as a result of investigations into another matter," says Detective Inspector Phillip Stevens.

"It is a credit to those involved in that investigation that they have pursued this matter which has resulted in the charges now before the court."

Author: Nick Nichols





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