Tele: NSW fraud crime: Detectives banned from speaking to private investigators

Fraud detectives have been directed to cut direct contact with private investigators amid an internal probe into the working relationship between cops and PI’s.

Fraud detectives have cut ties with private investigators and cases have been up-ended amid a controversial inquiry into their working relationship.

But the private investigators, who have a long and successful history of working with police to solve high-profile fraud matters, say the allegations are ridiculous and un­fairly impact on victims.

The role of experienced private eye Ken Gamble in the ­arrest of conman Peter Foster has been the catalyst for the divisive fraud unit saga.

“It is so disgraceful in 2020 when cybercrime is so prolific in Australia for them to behave like this and all I did was help them catch a notorious criminal,” Mr Gamble said.

NSW Police are in the process of reviewing all cases from the now-defunct Sydney City Fraud Unit with a focus on how involved private eyes such as Mr Gamble were.

That ­includes whether any sensitive police information was shared, how evidence was gathered and the repercussions for evidence admissibility in cases.

A NSW Police spokes­woman said: “The Professional Standards Command are conducting an investigation into the conduct of officers who were previously attached to the now-disbanded Sydney City Fraud Unit.”

A handful of detectives, with decades of fraud experience between them, have been directed to cut direct contact with three highly-experienced private investigators while the internal probe is under way.

Some cases that were ­referred to the unit by these ­investigators have also been moved to other police stations, offshore or suspended.

Fraud investigation is unique in that there is often a crossover between private or forensic investigators hired by a victim to recoup money through the civil process, and detectives pursuing a criminal prosecution.

Information analysed or collected during the private investigation is often shared with police.

Mr Gamble was contracted by one of Foster’s alleged victims to recover his investment and pursued him to Queensland.

With a 60 Minutes film crew in tow, he was with Queensland Police as they ­arrested Foster on a beach.

Mr Gamble said he told Queensland Police during a pre-arrest briefing that he wanted media to be there and there were no issues.

But it is understood senior police back in Sydney, where the criminal investigation into Foster was being handled, claimed they weren’t as ­informed.

Eastern suburbs identity Richard Buttrose has also complained to the Police Minister that a fraud case he was allegedly a victim in was suspended ­because a private investigator gave him informal advice.

Mr Buttrose had forensic reports supporting claims his signature was forged on a legal document to facilitate a $1.15 million transfer from his account in 2009.

“Detectives told me that the forensic evidence was overwhelming and would secure a conviction,” he said.

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