Monthly Archives: February 2019

Charlie Hebdo shooting: Hostages held in massive police manhunt

Live coverage: Police close in on killers 
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Dammartin-en-Goele: A hostage was being held as a manhunt for the men believed responsible for the Paris massacre late on Friday night [Australian time] closed in on a town north-east of the French capital.

Police swooped on the town of Dammartin-en-Goele, 41 kilometres outside Paris after reports of gunshots and an attempted carjacking.

Two suspects – Said Kouachi, 34, and his 32-year-old brother Cherif – were holed up with a hostage at a small printing works in the town.

Special forces were deployed to confront the killers who have been at large since gunning down 12 people at the office of satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday.

Three helicopters, including a large military craft, hovered over the town and negotiators were brought in. Media reported that the brothers had indicated they were prepared to die for their cause.

Armed and flack-jacketed police blocked all access to the area, waving vehicles away. “It is very dangerous here,” we were told. “Drive further away.”

School children were detained in their classrooms and the town’s residents were told to stay home, turn off all lights and lay low.

A string of emergency vehicles sped through the roadblock into the town, including an ambulance and convoys of police.

The small town of Dammartin-en-Geoele is set among picturesque green fields.  It is 13.5 kilometres from Charles De Gaulle international airport where several runways were closed.

Earlier on Friday, elite counter-terrorist police surrounded three hamlets 70 kilometers north-east of Paris in an effort to find the Kouachi brothers. The villages – Corcy, Fleury, and Longpont – border a dense forest larger than the city of Paris.

The French government has mobilised 80,000 police and soldiers across the country to protect public buildings and join the hunt, one of the biggest in the nation’s history, as the country mourned those who died in the attack.

The security forces also guarded the main roads into Paris, amid fears the still-armed terrorists might head back to the capital to commit more atrocities.

The national day of mourning was marred by some violence – with reports of attacks on mosques, and the deadly shooting of a policewoman in southern Paris, which authorities said was unconnected to the Hebdo massacre.

The Hebdo killers had initially evaded police on Wednesday by abandoning their car. However an ID card they left behind led police to name them as Cherif Kouachi, 32, and his 34-year-old brother, Said.

They held up a petrol station on Thursday morning, taking petrol and food, but the manager recognised them and called police, and anti-terrorist officers swooped on the area near Villers-Cotterets, north-east of Paris.

Officers conducted door-to-door searches of nearby towns and scoured farms and woodland using night-vision equipment and dogs after the gunmen’s new stolen car was found abandoned nearby.

According to one report they even scoured a large cave for the brothers.

After hours of unsuccessful search into Thursday night some units returned to Paris and five helicopters joined the hunt.

French officials said 11 people had been taken into custody in connection with the attack, including the Kouachi brothers’ 18-year-old brother in law, and more than 90 witnesses had been interviewed.

It has emerged that the brothers, Paris-born of Algerian descent, both had links to al-Qaeda.

Cherif Kouachi had spent 18 months in prison from 2008 for recruiting Islamist fighters for al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq.

And the other brother, Said, was believed to have trained with al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen in 2011.

Both were on US terrorist watch lists and French authorities came under pressure to explain how they had not been under closer surveillance.

French media reported that Cherif had been a member of the so-called Buttes Chaumont network, based in a northern Paris neighbourhood: petty criminals, usually Muslim,  radicalised by Islamic preachers to fight against US forces in Iraq.

He was arrested in 2005 trying to travel to Damascus, and sentenced for “preparing to commit acts of terrorism”.

Thursday was a national day of mourning in France for the 12 who died during the attack.

Bells tolled across Paris from the towers of Notre Dame after a minute’s silence at midday, and traumatised Parisians left improvised shrines made of candles, flowers, posters and pens at the police roadblocks surrounding the Hebdo offices.

In the evening the lights on the Eiffel Tower were symbolically extinguished to honour the dead.

On Thursday morning, in the south Paris suburb of Montrouge a man wearing a flakjacket and armed with an assault weapon shot a policewoman. The attack also left a streetsweeper injured. The policewoman later died of her injuries.

However Bernard Cazeneuve, the interior minister, said that there was no known link to the Hebdo attack.

“The succession of these two extremely violent dramas aimed at press freedom and the police must be met with dignity and general condemnation,” he said.

Fears of reprisals grew among France’s large Muslim community after reports of attacks on mosques in the 24 hours after the Hebdo attack.

“Everybody is looking at us as if we did it,” one Muslim told the BBC in the Paris suburb where one of the attackers lived.

Thursday saw a series of top-level government meetings in response to the attack on Hebdo, including one between President Francois Hollande and his predecessor and opposition leader Nicholas Sarkozy.

Mr Sarkozy said the attack on Hebdo had been “an attack by fanatics committed against civilisation”.

Staff of Charlie Hebdo vowed  their magazine would come out again next week – with a million copies to t on sale.

France has been in the midst of one of the largest manhunts in its history after masked men brandishing Kalashnikov assault weapons shot at people at the magazine’s offices. Famous for its biting commentary and cheeky — often offensive — cartoons, Charlie Hebdo had earlier in the day tweeted a cartoon of an Islamic State emir.

Tensions mounted yesterday after a policewoman was shot and killed just outside Paris, although there’s no indication the incident is connected to the earlier attack.

With agencies

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Charlie Hebdo shootings: Liberty, equality and an act of barbarity

As the bells toll from the towers of Notre Dame after a minute of silence for the victims of the attack on Charlie Hebdo, Sofia offers half her umbrella in the slanted rain, huddling against the cold in her grey coat and black gloves.
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She seems grief-stricken, angry and maudlin. Others around her are holding up pens in a middle-finger-like salute against terrorism. A few sob, more than a few have tears disguised by the weather.

The bells ring on for 10 minutes, giving plenty of time for reflection.

The calculated and merciless murders by two brothers born and raised in the city but enthralled by a barbaric ideology. The assault on freedom of speech, one of the cherished symbols of the French republic and identity. And the night of bullets fired and missiles thrown at mosques that followed across the country.

Asked what she was thinking, Sofia looks up as if the famous cathedral could tell her the answer.

“I am thinking, ‘what next’?”

When Sofia spoke, the killers remained on the run, eluding a massive manhunt. Paris was on edge, its terrorism alert on the highest possible level. The prospect of another attack in the next days and hours was chilling and real.

But her question resonates far wider and deeper, for France and the world.

The new threat posed by Islamic State that has seized the world and sparked the deployment of troops to Iraq and Syria has sparked a small but persistent flurry of attacks in the West by small-time, lone operators, inspired, but not directed, by the militant group.

Cars rammed into passing soldiers; a lone gunman on the rampage at Canada’s Parliament and Brussel’s Jewish Museum; the poorly planned siege at Sydney’s Lindt cafe.

What unfolded in the offices of France’s revered satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo was altogether different, more like the sophisticated and deadly attacks that devastated New York, Washington, Bali, Madrid and London, a time when jihadists were inspired by Osama bin Laden, not the self-proclaimed caliphate of IS.

Perhaps most chillingly, were the words the gunmen uttered to Hebdo illustrator Corinne Rey that suggests the battle against terrorism is entering a more menacing new phase.

“They spoke perfect French and claimed to be from al-Qaeda,” she told  L’Humanite.

Parisians believed responsible

It was Rey, better known as “Coco”,  who ushered in the killers into Charlie Hebdo office, held at gunpoint after she was intercepted outside the highly secure building after picking up her child from play group.

The men who monstered her and her terrified daughter were believed to be Cherif Kouachi, along with his and his brother Said, two Paris-born men of Algerian descent.

They were armed with automatic weapons, masked with black balaclavas and protected by bulletproof vests.

It was a well-planned operation. The brothers apparently knew Hebdo was holding its usual Wednesday morning editorial meeting.

A dozen journalists, including editor Stephane Charbonnier and the paper’s top cartoonists, were spitballing ideas on the topic of racism.

The attackers opened fire almost as soon as they were inside. They ran upstairs shouting “Where is Charb?”, the editor who quickly became their first victim, followed by almost everyone else in the meeting room.

They left behind what one eyewitness called “absolute carnage”, a newsroom painted in blood.

The pair then made their way up the street, firing ahead of them.

At one point they encountered a group of police and opened fire, wounding one, then almost casually shooting him in the head at close range as he lay helpless on the pavement.

Clearly comfortable with their weapons, they had switched to single-shot mode, and appeared to be good marksmen as they coolly eliminated the threat from the police.

As they fled in the car, one was captured on video saying: “Hey, we have avenged the Prophet Muhammad.”

By the end of the assault, 12 people were dead, and four people were seriously injured, requiring surgery. Seven more were hospitalised with minor injuries and 65 people hadshown signs of trauma. and were receiving psychiatric treatment.

Hebdo, a French institution, lost its editor, three of its most cherished cartoonists and other staff members. The policeman who guarded their office was also slain.

The magazine was founded by cartoonists and editors who established their wildly iconoclastic reputation by lampooning the hero of France’s Fifth Republic Charles de Gaulle during a period of national mourning.

Ever since, it has pilloried politicians of all persuasions, and mocked the pretensions of the world’s religions.

It’s decision to re-publish cartoons from Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad in 2006 earned the ire of extremists.

The initial publication of the images – it is considered a grave offence in Islam to portray its prophet in physical form – sparked protests by Muslims across the world. But for Cabu there was an important principle to defend – free speech.

No random attack, this was a carefully chosen target for the Kouachi brothers, aimed to draw sympathy from other Muslims.

And this was an assassination, not a suicide bombing. The men had plotted their escape through the traffic-clogged streets of Paris.

They abandoned their car after another trigger-happy encounter with police (leaving behind an ID card that gave away their identity, as well as, according to some reports, a dozen Molotov cocktails and two jihadists flags).

At the time of writing, they remained at large.

Cherif Kouachi was well known to police. A former hip-hop loving dope-smoker, he and his brother grew up in Paris’ 19th arrondissement, a hardscrabble precinct densely populated with immigrants and their children.

He was sentenced to prison in 2006 for helping recruit fighters to go to Iraq for the predecessor of IS, al-Qaeda in Iraq. That was before IS was renamed after splitting from al-Qaeda and took its own path, and the leadership of the global jihadi movement.

Notwithstanding the witness accounts of the men claiming allegiance to al-Qaeda and the group’s rapid endorsement of the act on social media, the precise links between the killers and the plot against Hebdo to al-Qaeda, Islamic State or, indeed, any other jihadist group remain uncertain.

But, according to the New York Times, US officials believe Cherif trained in Yemen for several months in 2011, joining up with an  al-Qaeda affiliate on the Arabian Peninsula.

The possibility of al-Qaeda’s re-emergence is vexing counter-terrorism authorities. If Al Qaeda is back in the business of sponsoring terrorism in the West, it represents a sharply more potent threat.

“The last time al-Qaeda or one its affiliates tried to launch an attack on the West was 2009,” says Tobias Feakin, the senior security analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

That was when a Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, attempted to blow up a passenger jet over Detroit with an explosive device secreted in his underwear.

He carried enough explosives to bring down the jet, but botched the detonation.

Al-Qaeda has been overshadowed by the stunning march of IS across Syria and Iraq but, say Feakin, it has always remained a potent force.

“In terms of numbers, al-Qaeda could well be in a stronger position than IS,” says Feakin.

It certainly has a greater global reach, with affiliates across the middle east and north Africa.

Its split from IS was based on personal animosity at a leadership level, concern at the medieval brutality of IS foot soldiers against other Muslims and the rejection of its claims to a caliphate.

There’s also an important strategic difference between the two groups. IS has always focused on creating its own state, defeating governments in the Middle East and punishing Muslims who do not adhere to its nihilistic and twisted vision of Islam.

IS only called for attacks on the West after the US and its allies (including France and Australia) weighed in to deploy military assets to counter it in Iraq and Syria.

Al-Qaeda’s number one enemy has always been the West, the “overseer” of the apostate Muslim states they believe are oppressing Muslims.

Letters captured from Osama bin Laden after the raid on his compound in Abbottabad show the al-Qaeda figurehead spent much of his time bemoaning other Islamic jihadis who were not strictly adhering to his vision.

Al-Qaeda also has a deeper understanding of terrorist tactics and methods after more than two decades of activity.

The implication of its re-emergence are obvious, and alarming, for security services.

Pen a mighty symbol

Across Paris, reaction to the attacks ranged from personal to political.

Little tributes and memorials to the fallen sprung up at Place de la Republique and on the fringes of the police cordon around the Hebdo offices.

Visitors left flowers, candles, little cartoons, posters and poems – and pens. Piles of pens.

At one such shrine, a young woman carrying a bouquet suddenly burst into tears, embracing her friends as she sobbed uncontrollably.

In Republique, where a big statue of Liberty sports a new black armband, the phrase of solidarity “Je suis Charlie” was scrawled on paving stones, and plastered across statues and lamp-posts.

Philippe Brinsolaro, brother of one of the police officers killed in the Charlie Hebdo assault, said “the whole of France is mobilising against this”.

“We cannot accept the infringement of freedom of speech and liberty of expression,” he said.

Veteran French journalist Christine Ockrent told the BBC that the attack on Hebdo had created a moment that initially bound people together.

“This is a moment when people feel they belong to the nation – in emotional terms and in political terms,” she said.

But she was less optimistic about what could follow this short-term solidarity. The attack would also feed into the country’s “great unease about immigrants”, she said – even second or third-generation immigrants which the attackers appeared to be – and mistrust of the country’s six million Muslims.

“This is precisely where the far right has been building its followers,” she said, referring to the recent success of political parties such as Marine Le Pen’s Front National.

The far right was quick to link the attack to its continuing theme that Islam’s expansion in France was causing an irreparable division in society.

The leader of France’s anti-immigration Front National delegation in the European Parliament, Aymeric Chauprade, told the BBC that France should “stop Islamisation” and groups who were “promoting sharia law on French territory. We should consider that it’s not possible now to accept radical mosques, to accept radical imams and this expansion”.

Marine Le Pen blamed the attack on “Islamic fundamentalism … which causes thousands of deaths every day around the world”.

She said that she would speak to the President about “the level of infiltration of radical Islam in our country and the means which must be implemented to protect our countrymen” – which should include a return of the death penalty for such attacks, she said.

The angst about growing social division goes well beyond France to the rest of Europe, where right-wing parties have gained support ever since the global financial crisis and the recession that has lingered across much of the continent.

The attacks on French mosques, Islamic prayer halls and restaurants in the aftermath of the attack suggest that the extraordinary and brave show of solidarity on the streets of Paris just after the attack and the quick and unequivocal condemnation from Muslim groups may not be enough to sweep away the rising Islamophobia.

As Feakin points out, such divisions please the terrorists. It makes it easier for them to harvest new recruits.

Addressing the nation, French president Francois Hollande declared that “unity is our greatest weapon” against extremism.

As that call struggles to be heeded, French citizens have started another twitter campaign, this time using the hashtag #JeSuisAhmed.

It honours Ahmed Merabet, the policeman shot in the street outside the Charlie Hebdo office, a murder so shockingly captured on video by bystanders.

Merabet was Muslim. His death defending an outlet that made fun of his religion was evidence that freedom of speech does cross religious and ethnic divides.

It is also an important reminder that it is Muslims – far more than other religous adherents – who have suffered the most casualties at the hands of militants purporting to be advocates for their faith.

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Transport demands growing at Green Square, the densest site in Australia

Residents of Zetland, standing near Mary O’Brian Park, are unhappy about the increased traffic in their streets due to the Green Square development. Photo: Wolter Peeters The Green Square development seen from Portman Lane. Photo: Wolter Peeters
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Residents of Zetland, standing near Mary O’Brian Park, are unhappy about the increased traffic in their streets due to the Green Square development. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Linda King (left) and Eileen and Mark Woodbridge walk through the area. Photo: Wolter Peeters

The Green Square development seen from Portman Lane. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Residents of Zetland, standing near Mary O’Brian Park, are unhappy about the increased traffic in their streets due to the Green Square development. Photo: Wolter Peeters

The Green Square development seen from Portman Lane. Photo: Wolter Peeters

Residents of Zetland, standing near Mary O’Brian Park, are unhappy about the increased traffic in their streets due to the Green Square development. Photo: Wolter Peeters

The Green Square development seen from Portman Lane. Photo: Wolter Peeters

The NSW government is struggling to keep pace with the transport needs of the largest urban renewal project in Australia – the construction of almost 30,000 apartments at Green Square – multiple secret reports into the area show.

When a rash of development is completed over the next 15 years, the suburbs around Green Square to the south of Sydney’s central business district will form the densest precinct in the country.

But two major reports commissioned by the state government include numerous recommendations about the transport capacity of the area that have not been acted on by authorities.

The Updated Transport Management and Accessibility Plan for Green Square was finished in September 2012, and a separate Botany Road Corridor Action was finished in November 2011.

Neither document has been released by the government, but were obtained by a community group using freedom of information laws.

The transport management plan says bus numbers through the area will need to double in the next 15 years. “This is likely to place additional pressure on already congested city streets and CBD bus termini,” the report says.

The report also proposes increased bus priority measures on Botany Road and Bourke Road. And it recommends providing a “high capacity public transport corridor” along a route the City of Sydney has mostly reserved for a light rail line.

In response, a spokeswoman for Transport for NSW said 187 new bus services a week had been added on two routes through the area – the 301 and the 348 – and a bus corridor on Botany Road would be “subject to future targeted investment for bus infrastructure.”

But the department was unable to provide examples of better priority for buses through the congested area – a key issue for local residents.

In addition, the report highlights the need to significantly increase the frequency of rail services. “The rail network must deliver a minimum of 20 trains an hour during peak periods, in both directions, or it will not fulfil its critical targets,” the report says.

Sydney Trains currently runs about eight trains an hour through Green Square Station. Transport for NSW would not say when an upgrade to 20 might occur.

The reports were obtained by the president of the Friends of Erskineville group, Darren Jenkins. Mr Jenkins said: “Erskineville and Green Square are twin victims of the NSW government’s metropolitan myopia.

“The cold hard truth is that we need swift action now to defuse a ticking time-bomb in the inner city.”

When completed, the Green Square area will have an average density of around 20,000 residents per square kilometre. The entire city of Melbourne includes only one square kilometre, housing more than 8000 people, according to a report released last month by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The City of Sydney Council, meanwhile, is demanding the government improve Green Square and surrounding areas.

“Fifty new apartments will be completed every week for the next four years,” a spokeswoman for the Council said.

“Residents tell us the trains and buses in Green Square are already overcrowded.”

The spokesman said the government’s study showed the frequency of both trains and buses must be at least doubled; new bus routes were needed; bus priority be installed at intersections; and safer road crossings be provided for locals.

Linda King purchased a property on Elizabeth Street, Zetland, in 2005, one of the few streets in the area retaining terrace housing.

Ms King said she purchased the property knowing that the area would develop, but was convinced by council plans that her street would be converted into a local road.

That has not happened, and in the meantime, “the traffic has just become gridlocked”.

“If you try and catch a bus in peak time, they’re often late – the bus could be stuck at a roundabout for three light changes sometimes,” Ms King said.

Labor councillor on the City of Sydney, Linda Scott, said: “I have met with endless streams of residents who are rightly very concerned about the lack of transport infrastructure in the area, given the density of development,” she said.

“The state government has provided no solution to what is clearly a huge problem – and to be clear, the council hasn’t done enough either.”

The council has invested more than $40 million in land for a proposed Eastern Transit Corridor, a four-kilometre bus and light rail route from Green Square to Central.

The most recent report commissioned by the government is supportive of this plan, but the government will not commit to it.

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Changes to GST to come? Labor thinks so

Mathias Cormann: ‘Absolutely no plans’ to raise GST this term. Mathias Cormann: ‘Absolutely no plans’ to raise GST this term.
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Mathias Cormann: ‘Absolutely no plans’ to raise GST this term.

Mathias Cormann: ‘Absolutely no plans’ to raise GST this term.

Acting Treasurer Mathias Cormann has tried to squash any suggestion that the Abbott government is considering raising  GST, saying there are “absolutely no plans” to do so this term, despite Trade Minister Andrew Robb outing himself as a supporter of expanding  GST.

Mr Robb said this week that the goods and services tax should be extended to products such as fresh food and education, in what could be the first clear sign of a coordinated campaign underway within the Abbott government to tackle the thorny issue.

He told Fairfax Media that the government did not have plans to change the tax before the next federal election, which is due in 2016, but his comments echoed three Liberal backbenchers who this week called for the big shift in taxation policy.

It was enough for Labor to claim  the government was now mounting a guerrilla campaign to build support for changing the tax.

“Australians now know the Liberal Party’s campaign to increase the GST goes right to the cabinet table,” shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh said on Friday.

But Mr Cormann, also Minister for Finance, told Fairfax Media the government had no plans to change the rate or the base of the GST – this term.

“The government’s position on the GST has not changed since before the last election, when we made the clear and unambiguous commitment that there would be no change to the GST in this term of government,” Mr Cormann said.

“We have, however, also always said that we would go through a comprehensive tax review process during this term.

“The only circumstance in which proposals in relation to the GST will be entertained, is if there is broad community consensus in support, including a broad consensus in favour of such proposals across the Parliament and if there is unanimous support from all state and territory governments, including Labor governments,” he said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has previously promised there will be no changes to the 10 per cent GST, and on Friday he said it would not be going up in the government’s current term.

He added that no changes could be made to the GST without the support of all the states and territories.

“The GST will not change in this term of Parliament and it cannot change in any term of Parliament without first of all the support of all the states and territories including the Labor states and territories and without effectively a parliamentary consensus,” Mr Abbott said.

But a 2013 legal opinion by barristers Bret Walker and Anthony Lang suggests that the intergovernmental agreement which contains this requirement for consensus was not legally binding, and therefore the GST legislation could be changed simply by a vote in both houses of federal parliament.

“As far as I am concerned what we should be on about is lower taxes not higher taxes. Lower, simpler, fairer taxes is the absolute objective that we are taking into this tax white paper process this year,” Mr Abbott told Sydney radio 2GB on Friday.

Mr Abbott wished “good luck” to those advocating a better tax system, which includes several government backbenchers led by Country Liberal Victorian Dan Tehan who have called for a debate about extending the GST in the event the Coalition wins the next election.

But Victorian Labor Premier, Daniel Andrews, says there are no circumstances where he would support an increase in the tax or applying it to fresh food.

“If Victoria refuses to support it, and we won’t, going on food or the rate increasing, then it can’t go up,” Mr Andrews said.

“The Goods and Services Tax is not a fair tax because it has no regard for a person’s capacity to pay,” he said.

South Australian Labor Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said the GST was a “regressive” tax and his state did not support changes to broaden its base or lift its rate.

A spokesman for the Liberal Tasmanian government said: “We don’t support any changes to the GST.”

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ASIC’s Medcraft faces carpeting from senators over fraud case

Greg Medcraft will be questioned over ASIC’s handling of a case involving an alleged $110 million loan fraud.Senators have vowed to grill the corporate watchdog over its failure to stop a key figure in an alleged $110 million loan fraud from fleeing the country despite notifying the suspect he was under investigation.
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The chairman of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Greg Medcraft, is due to front up to a Senate estimates hearing in February.

Labor Senator Sam Dastyari said he would question Mr Medcraft over ASIC’s handling of the case, which saw one suspect flee and another continue to work in the finance industry for three years after coming under suspicion.

It will be the latest in a string of Senate appearances where Mr Medcraft has been called upon to explain his agency’s performance, including its handling of the Commonwealth Bank financial planning scandal.

A Victoria Police affidavit relating to the case, obtained by Fairfax Media, reveals alleged suspect Mohamed Hamood fled to Bahrain two days after a search warrant of his house was executed in December 2012. It is unclear whether he has returned to Australia. 

Three other suspects – Manija Zayee, Najam Shah and Aizaz Hassan – were charged last week, four years after ASIC launched an investigation following a complaint in January 2011.

On Friday Senator Dastyari called ASIC’s handling of the case “deplorable” and urged it to explain why it took so long to act.

“It’s time ASIC came clean about what exactly has gone on here, what’s happened,” he said.

“That’s the least the victims deserve to know – why it took them so long to act and why a situation was allowed to happen where some of the alleged perpetrators have been able to flee overseas.”

ASIC was forced to respond to criticism on Friday, with a media release defending its “commitment to tackling loan fraud in Australia”.

The statement said there were some parts of the investigation that it was not able to divulge due to “legal restrictions”, and said the decision to stop an individual from travelling could only be made by a judge after an application in court.

“ASIC has followed common and carefully developed principles in its investigation and legal actions in the Myra case,” it said.

Spokesman for ASIC Andre Khoury failed to respond to questions from Fairfax Media on Friday.

Nationals Senator John Williams said ASIC’s handling of the case appeared to be a repeat of its handling of the Commonwealth Bank financial planning scandal.

“What is the problem here. Are they under-resourced? Are they afraid to act?” he said.

“ASIC obviously knew about [the case], they investigated it, why didn’t they act sooner?

“It is now 2015, getting on to four years after [the investigation started]. In the meantime people are getting their fingers burnt.”

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