1 September 2002
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The Federal Police and People Smugglers

PRESENTER: At the height of the asylum seeker crisis last year, Sunday's investigative reporter, Ross Coulthart, set off on the trail of the people smugglers. He was told by Indonesians in the know that one of the Mr Big's of the boat people trade was an Australian, Kevin John Enniss. This man admitted being involved, but claimed he was working in Indonesia as a secret agent of the Australian Federal police.

Our story went to air in February of this year during the Senate hearings into the children overboard affair. The AFP denied to Sunday that it had ever authorised an informant to get involved in the boat people trade. That was not true. But this week the AFP released a summary of its investigation into our allegations. In it the AFP exonerated itself and criticised Sunday. Ross Coulthart has continued his investigations, and it appears there's a lot more to be told.

REPORTER: Nearly one year ago in Dili, East Timor, Sunday confronted an Australian man, Kevin John Enniss.

John Enniss, I'm Ross Coulthart from Australian television, Channel Nine. We'd like to do an interview with you, to talk about your role in people smuggling.


REPORTER: We had evidence he was heavily involved in the Indonesian-based criminal people-smuggling trade, taking money off asylum-seekers on the promise that he could get them into Australia. But Enniss made an extraordinary claim.

ENNISS: I'm not an agent, that's the wrong word, but I've been working with the Australian Federal Police.

REPORTER: And you've also been doing a bit of work on the side yourself?

ENNISS: For what?

REPORTER: In light of what we knew about his activities, it was a startling assertion - that this man might be an agent of Australian intelligence.

REPORTER: Do you think you can put us on to people in Federal Police in Australia who can confirm your story?

ENNISS: Yes, I am sure. Not an Australia, in Jakarta. In the ... to the Federal Police from Australian embassy.

REPORTER: And do they know that you're actively involved in people smuggling operations?

ENNISS: Yes, yes. They know.

REPORTER: We set about checking Enniss' claim that he was working for the Federal Police. That, amazingly, would turn out to be true. But, as Federal Police and Enniss admit, he held himself out as a people-smuggler.

Can I put this to you, do you deny that you've ever had a role in people smuggling?

ENNISS: No, I don't deny that I've ever had a role in people smuggling, but I deny that I'm a people-smuggler.

REPORTER: He was taking money from desperate refugees. He was claiming to be a police officer himself. We caught Enniss on hidden camera claiming to be able to guarantee passage to Australia because he knew the movements of the Australian Navy.

REPORTER: But, with the knowledge of Australian Police, Enniss was playing a double game, turning in his victims to the authorities.

REPORTER: How much did you pay Mr John?

MOHAMMAD ESSA - ASYLUM SEEKER: Ten thousand dollars.

REPORTER: That's ten thousand American dollars.

ESSA: Yeah, eight person, eight people.

REPORTER: What's only now becoming apparent is the extent to which the Australian Federal Police played a part in Enniss' crimes, and how much the AFP is now implicated in those crimes.

When Enniss first claimed to us that he was working for the AFP we went straight to them and gave an undertaking. We would lay off the story if they assured us Enniss was or had been legitimately working as an informant in the national interest and if our broadcast would jeopardise an ongoing operation. We never got that undertaking. All we got was evasion and lies. And now we know why.

The Federal Police were involved in a covert operation inside Indonesia that was quite possibly illegal.

PROF MARK FINDLAY - CRIMINAL LAW EXPERT: I believe that Enniss represented himself as a people-smuggler, most probably was a people-smuggler.

REPORTER: Sunday has engaged one of Australia's top criminal law experts, Professor Mark Findlay of Sydney University, to give us his view on whether Enniss or the AFP broke Commonwealth laws.

FINDLAY: Enniss carried out his activities with the knowledge of the AFP and perhaps some limited authority. He misrepresented himself and took money as a consequence. All of those issues tend to make me believe that offences were committed under Commonwealth law.

REPORTER: If the Federal Police knew that, for the period of time that he was working for them, and did nothing to stop it, did the Federal Police commit an offence?

FINDLAY: Again, I'd say that depends on the way in which we look at their involvement. But if we were to speculate that they did nothing to restrict Enniss, that they supplied Enniss with money and some support, that they allowed Enniss to generate relationships with the Indonesian Police, then there's an argument to say that they were criminally involved.

REPORTER: Last week the AFP released a summary of their investigation into our report. The AFP found that no evidence exists to support the allegation made by Sunday that Kevin John Enniss landed unlawful non-citizens into Australia.

They also found that other information collected by Sunday in support of their allegations against Enniss is consistent with Enniss' role as an informant.

But as you'll see this morning, the AFP's investigation has serious short-comings. It fails to deal with the possibly criminal implications of Enniss' involvement in people-smuggling.

For several months last year, we held off broadcasting, fearing our story might jeopardise an undercover operation. Then Enniss outed himself - boasting in the media about his role.

In our original story earlier this year we detailed Enniss' clear involvement in people-smuggling, including evidence from two Australian businessmen, former colleagues of Enniss, that Enniss invited them to join his people-smuggling racket.

PETER HERBERT - AUSTRALIAN BUSINESSMAN: He said, look, I've got all these contacts. It's very easy to do. There's no risk to it, especially with all the people that I know and I'm involved with. We organise funds coming from the people who want to go, purchase a vessel, job done.

REPORTER: Since our program aired earlier this year, the truth has slowly begun to emerge about a covert disruption operation run inside Indonesia that has been kept secret from the Australian public until recently.

As the Federal Police Commissioner described it to Parliament, disruption activity against people-smuggling in Indonesia sounds quite harmless.

[Excerpt of Senate Inquiry]

MICK KEELTY - AFP COMMISSIONER: ...that it's to prevent the departure of a vessel. So in this context, and it can take many forms, either by the arrest of individuals or by the detention of individuals, or by ensuring that the individuals don't reach the point of embarkation if that was known.

[End of excerpt]

REPORTER: Commissioner Keelty also went to great pains to emphasise that no Federal Police informant got involved in such disruption activity.

[Excerpt of Senate Inquiry]

KEELTY: The people who conduct the disruption are the people with the power to conduct the disruption, or the intervention. That being, the Indonesian National Police, the Indonesian defence and sometimes the Indonesian Immigration. We find ... we obtain information from informants but informants do not disrupt. They have no power to disrupt.

[End of excerpt]

REPORTER: But, on any reading of the admissions Federal Police made in their own press statement last weekend, that's not what happened with Enniss. Federal Police boast how Enniss became a hugely successful player in what was clearly the disruption of people smuggling by allowing him to pose as a people smuggler, to entrap asylum seekers and to take their money.

Is there any way in which the Federal Police can argue that because Enniss was involving himself, quite obviously, in disruption activities with the Indonesians that Federal Police is not responsible for that behaviour?

FINDLAY: No, because the police claim him as their informer and also they gain information from him which they use as a result of this disruption activity that he might be engaging in with the Indonesians. So, they're quite clearly involved in those activities if it is only that they benefit from the information that comes from them.

REPORTER: Either way, Enniss is damned if he was and damned if he wasn't. If he was a people smuggler, he was a criminal and, from what you're saying, if he was merely representing himself as a people smuggler, he's also committing a crime.

FINDLAY: That's right and this is why I think the claims made by the AFP that they could have the benefit, both the AFP and Enniss, of immunity under Australian law are so important. To claim that in part is a recognition of the fact that Enniss was involved in questionable behaviour, behaviour which in fact might require immunity.

REPORTER: The Federal Police's public statements on their investigation make no mention of any efforts by police to track down asylum seekers who dealt with Enniss to find out what possibly criminal representations he made to them.

Two months ago, in Jakarta, we went looking. And for the first time today, we can bring you the claims of several asylum seekers who allege Enniss took large sums of money off them on the promise he could smuggle them to Australia.

This Afghani man, Nasir Hussein told us how he paid Enniss one thousand US dollars to get him to Australia. It's impossible for us to verify such claims, but as you can see Hussein quickly identified Enniss out of a line up of faces as the man who approached him on a beach Kupang in West Timor last year.

Tell me if you see him in any of these pictures? Are you sure that's Mr John?


REPORTER: What is particularly disturbing about Hussein's claims is that Enniss boasted he was an Australian policeman who could send him to Australia if he paid him money.

HUSSEIN: He said I am police, Australian Police, and I can send you to Australia and I can help you. At first he says, I want one thousand five hundred US dollar, but after that he is ... he said ... we said to him now we are losing big money in here. We are ... so you please some concession with us [sic] but he says, yeah, one thousand dollar.

REPORTER: If Nasir Hussein's account is true, it's clear that far from concealing his informant role, Enniss actually used his association with Australian and Indonesian police to boost his credibility as a corrupt cop who could get them to Australia.

FINDLAY: Impersonation of a police officer and the representation that a police officer can do things to exercise his power for money are very serious offences.

REPORTER: Mr Hussein claimed to know many other asylum seekers who paid Enniss money.

How many people do you know who have paid Enniss money?

HUSSEIN: Nineteen.

REPORTER: Nineteen people.

ABDUL: One-nine.


REPORTER: And how much money have they paid Enniss?

HUSSEIN: Nineteen thousand.

REPORTER: Nineteen thousand dollars.

ABDUL: Per person, yeah. Per person, one thousand dollars.

HUSSEIN: One thousand ... per person, one thousand dollar [sic].

REPORTER: And none of them have ever got their money back.

HUSSEIN: No. He's go away [sic].

REPORTER: Mr Hussein explained that as Enniss had told them he was an Australian policeman, it seemed pointless to complain to Australia about his behaviour. And no one from Australia came looking for him and his friends.

Can I ask you, do you know of any of your friends, have any of them been spoken to by the Australian Federal Police?


REPORTER: Eighteen year old Pakistani Mohammad Essa and his little brother, twelve year old Mohammad Zain-ul-Abidin are part of a separate family of eight asylum seekers which claims it paid Enniss ten thousand US dollars to get them to Australia last year.

They say, they actually sailed for Australia on a boat organised by Enniss but mechanical problems led to the trip being aborted. When we interviewed them in June, they were stranded in Jakarta living off United Nations handouts.

REPORTER: Where did you get the money from? Ten thousand dollars is a lot of money.

ESSA: I have one house in Pakistan.


ESSA: One car.

ZAIN-UL-ABIDIN: We sold the car and sold the house also.

REPORTER: So, when you return to Pakistan, you will have no home.

ZAIN-UL-ABIDIN: We will see about it when we return to Pakistan. We'll live in our ...

ESSA: Our friend house ...

ZAIN-UL-ABIDIN: ... cousin's ...

ESSA: Cousin's house.

ZAIN-UL-ABIDIN: Cousin's room because ...

REPORTER: But you've had to sell your house in order to try to get into Australia.


REPORTER: Sunday understands the Federal Police were told during their investigation in Jakarta of the allegations made against Enniss by Essa and Zain's family, but it does not appear that police made any effort to interview them.

Two weeks ago, they were repatriated with their family by aid agencies back to Pakistan. Last week, we spoke through an interpreter to Essa in Pakistan and he confirmed his willingness to testify against Mr Enniss.

REPORTER: If the Australian Police contacted you, would you be prepared to give evidence?

[Essa speaks over the phone]


Yes, I am ready to tell them the truth.


And you would be prepared to tell them that Mr Kevin John Enniss is the man who organised your boat and to whom you paid money.

[Essa speaks over the phone]


Yes, I will tell them.

PRESENTER: And after the break, an allegation that will send shock waves around the corridors of parliament. The AFP's informant Kevin Enniss boasts of how he was involved in deliberately sinking boats packed with asylum seekers when we come back.

[Commercial Break]

PRESENTER: The Federal Police now admit they paid Kevin Enniss at least twenty-five thousand dollars while he held himself out as a people-smuggler. They also now admit he took money from asylum-seekers who thought they were buying passage to Australia. But that may be the least of the AFP's problems as it struggles to explain just what control it had over the activities of Kevin John Enniss. Ross Coulthart continues our cover story.

REPORTER: There is another much more serious claim about Enniss' activities, one made to us by Enniss himself, which was not resolved in the Federal Police's public report of its investigation.

Last year Enniss boasted to myself and two other colleagues about how he had paid Indonesian locals on four or five occasions to scuttle people-smuggling boats with passengers on them. When we reacted with horror he was unrepentant, saying the boats were sunk close to land so everyone got off safely.

The police make no comment about Mr Enniss' claim in their public report. But they admit the lack of accountability for their disruption activities in Indonesia means it's possible they wouldn't even know about illegal activities. And there are other allegations of sabotage in this disruption operation that we are now investigating and cannot detail today.

FINDLAY: We have the recent allegations made to you by Enniss being treated by the AFP as if they are of no worth. And yet for a year and a half, certainly over a year, they were happy to receive information from Enniss, which they took as fact.

REPORTER: There is also an intriguing precedent in Australia's recent history to suggest that sabotage has been used before by some working for Australia to stop asylum-seeker boats.

In this 1992 ABC documentary, a former Australian Immigration officer admitted sinking vessels during disruption activities in the 1970s. Vessels carrying Vietnamese boat people were deliberately holed just off the Malaysian coast to stop them continuing to Australia.

GREG HUMPHRIES - FORMER IMMIGRATION OFFICER: We took a pretty broad interpretation of the terms of reference to stop these boats. We did because we had some very capable fellows with the screwdrivers and brace and bit. And we bored holes in the bottom of the ships and the boats and they sunk overnight. So they had to be landed. We were successful in stopping a lot of boats - by one way or another.

REPORTER: This week we asked the Federal Police to tell us if they have even investigated Enniss' claims to have sunk boats. But they failed to answer that question and many others we put to them in writing earlier this week, demanding instead that we not put this story to air.

Indeed this week, rather than respond to detailed allegations, the Federal Police continued to smear Sunday. To imply, as Federal Police, do that Sunday paid witnesses to make up false stories is completely untrue.

Three months ago Sunday publicly and promptly acknowledged that we could no longer support one allegation in our original program - that Enniss landed asylum-seekers on the Australian mainland. Unlike Federal Police, we were prepared to admit problems with our informants, and as we revealed, two locals we hired in Indonesia to help us find crewmen who worked for Enniss appear to have fabricated evidence.

Of what little detail is on the public record about Australia's disruption activities in Indonesia, it has only come about as a result in part of Sunday's story on Enniss and some very patient questioning in the Senate. What has emerged is that Australia has been - to use the AFP's own words - tasking Indonesian Police to stop asylum-seekers getting onto the smuggling boats. How Indonesia and Enniss did that seems to have been left up to them.

[Excerpt of Senate Inquiry]

KEELTY: The AFP, in tasking the INP to do anything that would disrupt the movement of people-smugglers has never asked, nor would it ask them to do anything illegal. If we became aware that they were doing something illegal or something that was inhumanitarian, then it would be brought to our notice and we would ask that they not do it that way. The difficulty is once we ask them to do it, we have to largely leave it in their hands as how they best do it, but it is not ...

[End of excerpt]

REPORTER: Federal Police admits they paid Enniss at least twenty-five thousand dollars as an informant. And in last weekend's very carefully worded statement, they admitted Enniss did take money off asylum-seekers on at least one occasion. They claimed the money was used to transport, accommodate and feed the asylum seekers.

Well, would it be a crime for Kevin John Enniss to purport to be a people-smuggler who could get people to Australia and then to take money from those people for that purpose?

FINDLAY: Well, under Australian law if he's a people smuggler it's a crime. If he's not a people smuggler but he's purporting to be one, that's a misrepresentation. And to obtain financial advantage as a consequence, that's a crime - you can't have it both ways.

REPORTER: The law is also clear that taking money by fraud is still criminal even if Enniss passed it on, as Federal Police claim. They say the cash received by Enniss was accounted for by Indonesian Police.

[Excerpt of Senate Inquiry]

JOHN FAULKNER - OPPOSITION SENATE LEADER: So what accountability, controls and constraints are on those Indonesian agencies that are conducting this activity? How are you satisfied that its ... that those activities are conducted in an appropriate way?

KEELTY: That is not for me to say. I don't have any power over the Indonesian authorities.

[End of excerpt]

REPORTER: In evidence to Parliament as recently as last month, Commissioner Keelty admitted that despite the growing concerns about aspects of these disruption activities he still hadn't asked his lawyers if it was legal.

[Excerpt of Senate Inquiry]

FAULKNER: Did the Australian Federal Police at any level during this period seek legal advice as to the disruption activities in Indonesia?

KEELTY: Not that I'm aware of.

FAULKNER: Well, if that had happened, you would have been aware of it, wouldn't you?

KEELTY: I would be aware of it by now I'm sure.

[End of excerpt]

REPORTER: Federal Police used Kevin John Enniss for the laudable reason that they wanted to bust the people-smuggling syndicates. But they never asked if what they were doing with him was legal.

Well, we have. Today you will see how in their zeal to catch the criminals, Police let their informant commit crimes under Australian law. For as Police well know, Enniss went far beyond the normal role of an informant. If we even accept just what the Federal Police have now admitted, Enniss was allowed to be an agent-provocateur. To pose as a people-smuggler to asylum-seekers, to be an active player in a criminal trade. Without any legal authority, our top cops unwittingly gave the green light to crime.

FINDLAY: Simply by doing nothing, by sitting back and allowing a paid informer to do what quite clearly here was problematic activity could be seen as authorisation in the de facto sense.

REPORTER: So, by standing and watching and doing nothing, the Federal Police possibly allowed Kevin John Enniss to commit crimes?

FINDLAY: And to some extent could be implicated because of that, depending on where the crimes were committed.

REPORTER: There's probably a lot of people watching this saying, oh come on, this guy is helping Australia catch people-smugglers - so what? So what if we represented to asylum-seekers that we could get them to Australia? In the end it was helping Australia's national interest.

FINDLAY: Well, how far do your viewers who take that opinion want to push it? Is it okay for the police to allow the commission of activities that might be criminal because we are dealing with people smugglers, but it's wrong if we deal with someone else? Was it okay many years ago in New South Wales for police to fabricate evidence simply because they believed people were guilty? Are we happy to turn over the responsibility for deciding between guilt and innocence to the police and not the courts?

REPORTER: At the beginning of this year, this is what Dick Moses, Australian Federal Police's Director of International Operations, told Sunday:

Has the Federal Police ever authorised any informant to involve themselves in people-smuggling?

DICK MOSES - AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE: No, that's categorically no. The Australian Federal Police has not done so.

REPORTER: Has the Australian Federal Police ever authorised any informant to take money off asylum-seekers intending to get illegal passage to Australia?

MOSES: My answer to that is categorically no. The Australian Federal Police has never done so.

REPORTER: Then came the back-flip. Over months of parliamentary hearings, the truth has begun to emerge. First, in February the Federal Police Commissioner, Mr Keelty, flatly contradicted his own Director of International Operations, admitting he knew Enniss was involved in people-smuggling.

[Excerpt of Senate Inquiry]

KEELTY: In other words, we knew he was engaged in people-smuggling because he was telling us what was going on. But there was nothing to indicate from the information that's been provided about his activities from other authorities within Indonesia that we considered was outside of the realm of information that we already had.

[End of excerpt]

REPORTER: In the same hearing, Commissioner Keelty then presented an implausible explanation to the parliamentary committee of what it was that Sunday had put to his Director of International Operations.

[Excerpt of Senate Inquiry]

JOE LUDWIG - LABOR SENATOR: In relation to the report from the reporter Ross Coulthart, in the Sunday program it says that the Director of International Operations for the Federal Police, Dick Moses, categorically rejects any suggestion that any informant would ever have been authorised to involve themselves in people-smuggling. Is there a distinction between authorised and knew, or was aware of, or is that statement still correct or now incorrect?

KEELTY: No, the statement is correct. That answer to that question, from my recall, was specifically related to, would you have authorised him to be involved in people-smuggling about which you had no knowledge? Whilst it's not stated by Mr Coulthart, my understanding of that is the sense of the question.

[End of excerpt]

REPORTER: But that wasn't the sense of our question at all. What we very clearly asked was if any involvement by Enniss in people-smuggling had been authorised by Federal Police.

Has the Australian Federal Police ever authorised any informant in Indonesia to involve themselves in people-smuggling?

MOSES: Categorically no.

REPORTER: The question we've been asking ourselves for months is why Federal Police were so evasive. Despite the fact that he admits he never asked for legal advice, the Federal Police Commissioner has consistently claimed that neither AFP nor Enniss broke any Australian laws.

Then, the Commissioner claimed to Parliament that even if an informant like Enniss had committed a crime, he'd be protected under what are called controlled operations laws - immunity provisions under the Crimes Act.

[Excerpt of Senate Inquiry]

KEELTY: The controlled operations legislation protects the informant being involved in criminal activity.

[End of excerpt]

FINDLAY: He certainly was wrong. There's three things here to remember. Firstly, was it a controlled operation in Indonesia? I don't think the legislation covers that. Secondly, even if the legislation was in force, the act does not cover informers, and in addition to that it does not cover individuals who are involved in entrapment procedures, and in many situations this is exactly what Enniss was doing. So my answer to your question would be he was not covered.

REPORTER: So what the Commissioner told the parliament was false.

FINDLAY: The Commissioner's understanding of it was wrong.

REPORTER: Incredibly, the Commissioner's evidence suggests Federal Police just seem to have assumed they and Mr Enniss would enjoy immunity from the criminal law.

REPORTER: They've turned you. You were a people-smuggler and they turned you.

ENNISS: Look, stop talking shit with me. I was never ever a [beep] people-smuggler, okay?

REPORTER: I just think we need to test your ...

ENNISS: Okay, you can [beep] the test. We can put this straight to the Australian Federal Police that know [beep] everything, okay?


ENNISS: Don't come with a [beep] smart-ass smirk with me, man.

REPORTER: I'm not.

Federal Police assert they and their informant, Mr Enniss, have done nothing illegal. Try telling that to twelve year old Zain and his family, and the many other asylum-seekers who say they handed over their life savings to Kevin John Enniss.

Enniss stopped working for the Federal Police a year ago. But the questions about just what he did on Australia's behalf are still unanswered. And that's the way it may stay, because the only investigation into his activities was by the police force that is itself tainted by his crimes.

FINDLAY: Are we simply happy to have the police managing the law, deciding what is lawful and what isn't, doing what they want in relation to illegal activities, using criminals for their own purposes and at the end of the day telling us it's for our benefit?

PRESENTER: Ross Coulthart reporting there. The producer, Nick Farrow.

We have asked the Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty, for an interview on these issues - he's refused. We've asked the AFP the full report of their investigation - they've refused. We've submitted thirty-seven questions in writing to the AFP and the AFP has refused to answer them. All those questions demands answers.

Exactly how much money did Enniss take off asylum-seekers? What does the AFP know about claims that Enniss was involved in sinking refugee boats? What other crimes were authorised in our name? And rest assured, we'll continue to pursue the answers.

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