Promoter Andrew McManus, the figure behind Australian tours by Fleetwood Mac, ZZ Top, KISS and Lenny Kravitz, was arrested yesterday over his alleged affiliation with a drug syndicate.
54-year-old McManus was arrested at Melbourne airport last night following the arrests of Sydney solicitor Michael Croke, convicted drug trafficker Craig Haeusler, US businessman Owen Hanson Junior, and Zeki Atilgan, owner of the Gaziantep Sweets & Pastry shop in Auburn.
The five men were detained in Australia and the US in connection with an alleged importation of 300 kilograms of cocaine from Mexico, via America, and money laundering. According to Fairfax, the international investigation stemmed from the discovery of a suitcase filled with $702,000 cash at Sydney's Hilton Hotel in 2011. Police were called to the hotel after an anonymous tip-off who claimed a person in one of the Hilton’s rooms had a gun. Sean Carolan, who ran Advanced Peptide Solutions (a company which produces custom peptides) with Owen Hanson Junior, was the occupant of the room.
Following court proceedings in November, when a number of outlandish events relating to the money arose, McManus claimed the cash was his own and that it had been snuck in from New Zealand using 20 crew members, preceding Lenny Kravitz’s tour. McManus, who placed McManus Entertainment in voluntary administration in September 2013, was reportedly using the cash to repay Hanson. Hanson had leant him money to fund ZZ Top’s 2013 tour, but he needed it to fund Kravitz’ tour.
It was later revealed to the NSW Supreme Court that McManus also accepted $450,000 in cash from Perth bikie gang, the Coffin Cheaters, who were promoting the Perth leg of the ZZ Top tour.
The investigation is being carried out by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the NSW Organised Crime Squad and the Australian Crime Commission.
Australian Crime Commission NSW manager Warren Gray said: “investigations like this one affirm the effectiveness of ‘following the money’.”
According to Fairfax, McManus has been charged with perverting the course of justice, attempting to defraud by false of misleading statements and knowingly participating in a criminal group to assist crime. The same charges have been handed to Haeusler and Croke while Atilgan has been charged with two counts of money laundering.
The promoter’s woes date back to 2010, when he began fighting a reported debt of $4.2 million for failed tours. When the Australian Taxation Office called him out on the Melbourne Storm salary cap scandal, he was forced to cough up $2.4 million, or $120,000 per player.
McManus was released on bail last night and is set to appear in a Sydney court on Wednesday October 14.