Alleged illegal tobacco player granted bail after denying money laundering charge

Tim Clarke
The Nightly
Maytham Hamad was among seven men and two women, including some with alleged links to a Middle Eastern crime group, charged in relation to a $10 million illicit tobacco network operating in WA.
Maytham Hamad was among seven men and two women, including some with alleged links to a Middle Eastern crime group, charged in relation to a $10 million illicit tobacco network operating in WA. Credit: Unknown/Instagram

A man allegedly caught up in an illegal tobacco ring – who was arrested in Perth accused of handling $270,000 in dirty money – has been granted strict bail so he can live at home with his heavily pregnant wife.

Maytham Hamad, 29, was banged up by WA Police last month as part of a major, inter-agency investigation into what police claim is a significant illicit tobacco network operating within Western Australia.

Authorities say Mr Hamad is part of that syndicate in WA, with a prosecutor today telling a magistrate that a “turf war” was in play.

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His brother Kazem is allegedly pulling the strings of that syndicate from overseas after he was deported from Australia last year. And those instructions reportedly include the fire-bombing of multiple tobacco stores in Melbourne.

And, WA Police say, similar fires have begun in in that state, with a police prosecutor telling a magistrate that a “turf war” was in play.

Maytham Hamad has not been charged with any offences relating to property damage.

What he is accused of is money laundering, following his arrest in June, along with a number of other co-accused in WA.

Perth Magistrates Court was previously told that following telephone intercepts, Mr Hamad was said to have sent a package from Perth to Victoria to a relative, containing $274,000 in cash.

Police claim that money was the proceeds of crime.

Seven men and two women, including some with alleged links to a Middle Eastern crime group, have been charged in relation to a $10 million illicit tobacco network operating in Western Australia.
Seven men and two women, including some with alleged links to a Middle Eastern crime group, have been charged in relation to a $10 million illicit tobacco network operating in Western Australia. Credit: WA Police/Supplied
Seven men and two women, including some with alleged links to a Middle Eastern crime group, have been charged in relation to a $10 million illicit tobacco network operating in Western Australia.
Seven men and two women, including some with alleged links to a Middle Eastern crime group, have been charged in relation to a $10 million illicit tobacco network operating in Western Australia. Credit: Victoria Police/Supplied

Initially, Mr Hamad was denied bail because of a perceived potential of flight, further offending and the potential to interfere with witnesses.

On Thursday, in the same court, barrister Seamus Rafferty stepped up Mr Hamad’s bail bid, revealing that he intended to deny the single charge which meant he may not go to trial for at least two years.

He said that despite all the surrounding allegations of illicit tobacco, Mr Hamad has only been charged with money laundering.

Mr Rafferty revealed that even while police investigated him, and his alleged connections, he contacted police while on his overseas honeymoon to ask whether he needed to speak to detectives.

And, he pointed out, he had no criminal record in WA – but had done a spell in prison in Victoria after initially being charged with murder in 2017. He was eventually convicted of being an accessory to the assault.

Seven men and two women, including some with alleged links to a Middle Eastern crime group, have been charged in relation to a $10 million illicit tobacco network operating in Western Australia.
Seven men and two women, including some with alleged links to a Middle Eastern crime group, have been charged in relation to a $10 million illicit tobacco network operating in Western Australia. Credit: WA Police/Supplied

WA Police opposed bail again, citing Mr Hamad’s strong links to Victoria and the Middle East – and with organised crime.

They said they feared he might be able to get access to fake documents – and also for his safety amid the alleged tobacco “turf war”.

Police also said any home detention bail may be on shaky ground because the landlord leasing his current house is looking to end that lease, because of the recent visits by police.

Mr Hamad was eventually granted that home detention bail on strict conditions which included a $100,000 surety and an undertaking to surrender his passport.

He won’t get out of prison until monitoring equipment is fitted in his Mount Pleasant home and will return to court in September.

He was also ordered not to contact six other co-accused, who were all arrested as a total of 50 search warrants were executed at homes, storage units, and shops — including tobacco stores — last month

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