NZ Comanchero trial: Witness at ‘heart of case’ accused of lying by president’s lawyer

A drug smuggler who has been described as being at the “heart of the case” against the Comanchero president has admitted there was no agreement with the president to import drugs from Fiji.

The money laundering and drug trial against Pasilika Naufahu, Connor Michael Tamati Clausen, accountant Wiwini Himi Hakaraia, a media personality who has name suppression, and a woman also with name suppression began last week at the High Court at Auckland.

The five were arrested following a series of raids across Auckland in April 2019 which saw more than $3.7 million in assets seized along with luxury cars, motorbikes, luxury luggage and jewellery.

On Thursday, a 51-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared via an audio visual link from a prison in New Zealand.

The man, who the jury has heard is at the “heart of the case”, has admitted the drugs charges against him and was also the cash handler, depositing money into various bank accounts.

Hours of intercepted calls have been played to the jury of the man speaking with lawyer Andrew Simpson, who was jailed for laundering $2.2 million for the club, Naufahu and other associates.

On Thursday Naufahu’s lawyer Ron Mansfield continued cross-examining the man, saying multiple times he was weaving lies in with the truth to help himself.

The court has previously heard, on a visit to Fiji, the man picked up a suitcase from a hotel containing drugs.

However, the man told the court he disposed of the drugs and the suitcase in a nearby river, hoping his bosses wouldn’t find out.

“The story about the suitcase is unbelievable. No one is going to carry a hard quantum of that drug to Sydney unless it’s concealed,” Mansfield said.

“You’re trying to look like the man that can’t be replaced.”

The man previously told the court he feared for his life if he didn’t cooperate with his brother and the drug supplier in Fiji.

”This is how I get more pushed into it. It’s either my life or my wife and daughter’s life. I have to do whatever it takes to cooperate,” he said.

The man said Naufahu was his “boss” in New Zealand and “wanted to do business”.

In a police interview with the man, Mansfield said he had changed his story in a self-serving way and Naufahu never asked for drugs.

“At no time did you involve Naufahu in discussion about bringing drugs to New Zealand,” Mansfield said.

However the man said he was instructed by his brother to ask Naufahu about the importation of drugs.

“It’s pretty clear that the police just want you to talk about Pasilika Naufahu and drugs,” Mansfield said.

In a phone call between the pair in February 2019, shortly before the man was arrested at the airport, he received a phone call from Naufahu.

Mansfield said the phone call was about Naufahu’s “good news” in settling on the purchase of his Bucklands Beach property not about drugs.

The man agreed, but said Naufahu also asked about drugs being stuck in Fiji.

When asked if there was any agreement between parties about importing the drugs into New Zealand, the man conceded there wasn’t.

“That’s right because it died out,” the man said.

“I don’t know if my brother went ahead and used Pasilika Naufahu to bring drugs into New Zealand.”

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Source: Stuff