Financial adviser charged with importing cocaine from the United States
A former Westpac financial adviser has been charged with importing cocaine valued at $60,000 into Australia.
- Harris John Kohu Shortland was extradited from Brisbane to Alice Springs on drug charges
- NT Police allege Mr Shortland imported cocaine from the US over several months
- The financial adviser was refused bail over flight risk, witness tampering fears
Harris John Kohu Shortland, 50, was refused bail in the Alice Springs Local Court on Monday afternoon.
His lawyer, John Lawrence SC, said Mr Shortland strongly denied all the charges.
Northern Territory Police allege Mr Shortland is responsible for importing 120 grams of cocaine from the United States over several months.
Detectives arrested him in Brisbane on Thursday, and he was extradited to Alice Springs.
Mr Shortland is facing two charges of supplying a commercial quantity of a schedule one drug, two charges of supplying a schedule one drug in less than a commercial amount, three counts of receiving tainted property, and four counts of a Commonwealth charge of importing border controlled drugs.
The charges of commercial supply and receiving tainted property attract a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison on each count.
Prosecutor Glen Dooley opposed bail, telling the court the Crown case was strong and Mr Shortland was a flight risk.
“He has the means to spend a fair bit of time flying in and out of the country,” he said.
Mr Lawrence told the court his client spent six months of every year living in Los Angeles for recreational purposes.
Local distributor, DNA evidence make up Crown case
Mr Dooley said the key witness for the prosecution was a local distributor, and police had fears Mr Shortland may try to tamper with the witness.
The prosecutor indicated SMS messages and video evidence also made up the Crown’s case.
“There’s also been a DNA hit on packaging of the drugs,” he said
Mr Lawrence disputed the DNA evidence would be a “silver bullet” for the prosecution’s case.
He told the court Mr Shortland ran a successful financial planning business with numerous employees in Alice Springs, and it was unlikely it would survive without him there.
Mr Shortland had previously worked as a financial adviser for Westpac in Darwin, Mr Lawrence said.
“He says he needs to clear his name. He’s not going to run, he can’t run,” he said.
Mr Shortland was remanded in custody and will return to court on December 20.