A Brisbane lawyer has been charged with laundering drug money in an alleged scheme involving her former Hells Angels bikie ex-husband and the son of a former top Queensland anti-corruption official.
Police will allege solicitor Ana Brkan, 34, and former solicitor Paul John Crowley, 50, both received kickbacks for their roles in organising bogus loans – worth tens of thousands of dollars each – for indebted drug customers of Brkan’s then husband, Nuno Da Silva.
Brkan, 34, who allegedly drew up loan documents under the banner of her Brisbane firm Insight Law, and Crowley, 50, a finance broker who was disbarred from the legal profession more than a decade ago, were both charged with money laundering on Tuesday.
Crowley, the son of a former acting chairman of Queensland’s Criminal Justice Commission, is accused of arranging finance for people who owed money to Nuno Da Silva and his twin brother Bruno for methamphetamine, or ice, which they were sold on credit.
Police will allege that the loans Crowley arranged were in the names of the drug customers but were paid directly to the Da Silvas to recover their debts.
They will allege Brkan arranged legal documentation and the payment from an account of at least one of these loans.
That loan was allegedly for $50,000 to a low-level drug dealer. But police will claim that $26,000 of it was instead transferred to the Da Silvas, with Brkan and Crowley sharing the remaining $24,000 for setting the loan up.
Police seized documents from Brkan’s firm at the conclusion of an undercover drug sting in October 2013. But they were forced to wait more than three years to view them after Brkan fought their access by claiming legal professional privilege.
Brkan’s website describes her as a “talented lawyer and innovative thinker [with] a long history as part of the legal fraternity within Australia”. She was admitted as a solicitor to the Queensland supreme court in 2008.
Da Silva, 39, a former locksmith business owner now of Loganlea, was also charged with money laundering on Tuesday. The trio were given notices to appear in the Brisbane magistrates court on 31 January.
Mick Niland, superintendent of Queensland’s anti-gang squad Maxima, said police were committed to targeting “professional groups”.
Solicitor Andrew Bale, acting for Da Silva, said his client would defend the charges.
Bale said it would be “very difficult” for prosecutors to prove money was laundered when police were unable to “quantify the yield or even the turnover of the drug-trafficking”.