There is no credible evidence to suggest Pasilika Naufahu conspired to import drugs, his lawyer says.
The president of the Comanchero motorcycle gang has been painted as a “demon”, but he is not a drug dealer despite the police’s best efforts to pin him as one, his lawyer says.
The trial against president Pasilika Naufahu, Connor Michael Tamati Clausen and a woman with name suppression took a turn on Thursday when a number of the charges against Naufahu were dismissed.
The trio were arrested following a series of raids across Auckland in April 2019 in which more than $3.7 million in assets was seized along with luxury cars, motorbikes, high-end luggage and jewellery.
A number of vehicles were seized by police in April 2019. (File photo)
Naufahu remains charged with two charges of money laundering in relation to the purchase of a Bentley and Ford Ranger. He also is charged alongside Clausen with conspiring to import pseudoephedrine.
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On Monday, Naufahu’s lawyer Ron Mansfield closed his case to the jury, saying there was no evidence to convict his client.
Mansfield said police were “obsessed” with Naufahu, an “apparent demon”, despite the “woeful state” of the evidence.
Connor Clausen and Pasilika Naufahu are jointly charged with conspiring to import a class B drug.
“That is because the Crown knows, despite the best endeavours of the New Zealand Police force for over a year, there was no direct evidence of Pasilika Naufahu being involved in drug dealing activity here or abroad,” Mansfield said.
No drugs were found after the searches in April 2019, the court heard.
Naufahu and his family were subject to 24/7 surveillance with a camera positioned at the end of their driveway, but no drug-dealing activity had been captured, Mansfield said.
The defence lawyer reminded jurors not to be prejudiced against his client because he is a member of a gang.
“He hasn’t shied away from the fact he’s the president of the Comancheros, had access to cash and spent cash on luxury vehicles.”
Comanchero Motorcycle Gang members have been arrested in Auckland. (First published in April 2019)
The court has previously heard there were a number of trusts set up and various bank accounts were used to allegedly launder money to then purchase luxury cars and property.
Naufahu previously admitted funds that were used to purchase his home and some vehicles was laundered through lawyer Andrew Simpson and a convicted drug dealer.
The Crown’s case is that cash was deposited into Naufahu’s wife’s account which was then used to pay for the Ford Ranger, despite her not declaring any income during that time.
However, Mansfield said there was no evidence the vehicle was purchased with laundered money.
Over the course of the trial, the court has heard hours of intercepted calls between Naufahu and other associates, including a convicted drug dealer at the heart of the case.
He was observed, during the police’s covert investigation, meeting with Naufahu on multiple occasions.
Mansfield said that man was a “false prophet” who “peddled snake oil” during his evidence.
“No one could credibly leave this court thinking he was an honest man who was telling the truth.”
The jury had also heard about a failed drug deal. However, Mansfield said there was no evidence to link Naufahu to that deal.
Last week, Naufahu had one charge of conspiring to import a class A drug and one charge of money laundering withdrawn.
Charges against a media personality and an accountant accused of money laundering and being part of an organised criminal group were also dismissed on Thursday.
However, the accountant, Wiwini Himi Hakaria, admitted to being in possession of cocaine, which was found in a Nike shoe, and Justice Graham Lang fined him $2000.
Justice Lang will sum up the case to the jury later on Monday.