Five men believed to be part of a criminal network involving international drug trafficking and money laundering were arrested in the U.S. and Australia this week following a four-year joint criminal investigation between New South Wales law enforcement and the FBI.
Police allege that Andrew McManus, at one time a leading concert promotor in Australia, known drug kingpin Craig Haeusler, and McManus’ London attorney Michael Croke, along with two other men, were part an illegal scheme that utilized Sydney’s The Star casino as well as Las Vegas casinos to launder millions of dollars generated from international cocaine smuggling.
The investigation was fueled by the May 2011 discovery of a suitcase containing approximately $702,000 in cash at a Sydney Hilton hotel room where former cage-fighter Sean Carolan was in possession of it. Police received an anonymous tip that a hotel guest in Carolan’s room was seen with a gun, but upon arrival only found Carolan and the black suitcase full of cash. Carolan told police that he was holding the money that belonged to his business partner in the company Advanced Peptide Solutions, Owen Hanson Jr, to prevent Hanson from losing more at the casino, directly conflicting with McManus’ claim to police in 2012 that the money was proceeds from Lenny Kravitz tour and not from crime. As obtained on the Sydney Morning Herald, in an April 2012 police interview McManus said, “I gave someone 700 large, and you’ve found someone with 700 large. It’s my 700 large, “and that, “It’s not the proceeds of crime, it’s the proceeds of Andrew McManus.” The Supreme Court ruled against Carolan and the “700 large” remains in the safekeeping of New South Wales officials.
Police allege that the cash found was proceeds from a cocaine deal. The funds were supposed to go to The Star casino where a professional gambler would launder it. According to police there is no indication that The Star casino had any knowledge of the gambler’s illegal activities.
Among the other arrests resulting from the criminal investigation, McManus was placed into custody by police at Melbourne Airport on Thursday and has been charged with making false statements, involvement in a criminal group, and preventing the course of justice, both charges related to the cash. He was released on bail that evening and is scheduled to appear in court on October 14 in Sydney.