The alleged ringleader of a drug syndicate that police claim was also simultaneously running a fraud scheme using Covid benefit payments has made his third attempt at bail in the state’s highest court.
Nasser Kalache was working as a real estate at RW Partners Fairfield, in Sydney’s southwest, when he was charged in March with 10 offences, including cultivating prohibited plants, using false document to obtain financial advantage and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime.
The 52-year-old also owned a business called NSW Maintenance Solutions, which was registered to the address of one of the alleged growhouses.
Police claim the property had a false wall that allegedly hid a sophisticated growhouse and 85 cannabis plants.
Mr Kalache on Friday faced the NSW Supreme Court where defence barrister Ian Lloyd QC took a third attempt at bail.
Mr Kalache was first denied bail in his first court appearance on March 24, but his lawyers made another application to Fairfield Local Court on May 16.
Both were denied despite lawyers telling the court Mr Kalache needed close medical attention due to his diabetes and cancer.
Mr Lloyd told the court on Friday that his client was happy to report daily to police, wear a tracking bracelet and could offer up $100,000 in surety from one of his properties.
The court was told Mr Kalache is accused of using people’s names without their knowledge to gain Covid rent relief payments while allegedly using the properties as hydroponic drug labs.
He allegedly applied for more than $700,000 in rental relief payments related to the Covid Residential Tenancy Support Payment, which police allege was done without the consent of the tenants within the buildings.
The scheme is alleged to have been run through Mr Kalache’s workplace, RW Partners.
Police claim more than $328,000 of the claims were allegedly paid out, with $400,000 pending, according to the charges.
Mr Lloyd said his client had serious health issues and argued there would be a “lengthy delay” until Mr Kalache would face trial.
However, the court was told Mr Kalache had a lengthy criminal history and spent four years behind bars 30 years ago after he was convicted of maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm.
“He was 22, he’s now 52,” Mr Lloyd said.
“That is the only offence of violence on which he has been convicted despite assertions throughout police material he has a history of violence.”
Justice Mark Ierace SC said the information before him was “unsatisfactory” and asked for more evidence about who Mr Kalache would be living with.
The matter was adjourned and will resume on Monday.
Originally published as Real estate agent Nasser Kalache alleged mastermind for Covid fraud cannabis scheme
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