Tuesday, May 12, 2020


I've just finished reading Snowdrops a novel about corruption and fraud (among other things) in Moscow: a great recommendation by Rachel. 

It prompted me to relate my own story of a fraud trial in Perth in 2015. For the first time ever, I was called for jury service and the long trial stole more than a month of my life. The accused (Mr X) was an American university lecturer in Marketing, working in Perth at UWA. He somehow convinced a small start-up company that he could help them develop their product, which was a papaya (or pawpaw) based cream. In particular, he promised to get this through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia and - even better - through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in America. If a herbal remedy can gain approval by these regulatory bodies, it has a much better financial future!  Mr X was employed as a Consultant for 9 months, and received large cheques for his services. He claimed to have contacts within “Big Pharma” in America.

There were 19 counts of fraud and each one was presented in great detail. One day I actually dozed off, it was so boring. But it was also unbelievable that the small company had been so gullible and that he had got away with it for so long. I really woke up to the situation when part of the evidence was a huge "Literature Survey" in 3 volumes. This was simply a collection of photocopied documents with no comments or conclusions. To be of any value, it required some evaluation of relevant research in the area. As a retired academic myself, I could immediately smell a rat! This was no Literature Survey. It had no value without any recommendations. When the Prosecution made no mention of this, I was alarmed.  Should I tell them? Was this even legal? Then there was a lot of purely anecdotal evidence about the beneficial use of the cream in aged care homes for preventing and treating bedsores, but no scientific testing or clinical trials had been done. There was no quality control built into the manufacture of the cream, to ensure that each batch would be the same.

We heard that the two directors of the small company also started to get suspicious and decided to do some detective work themselves. They flew to America to track down the supposed offices and HQ of Mr X’s business. The address turned out to be a Retirement Village for Chinese people. It transpired that Mr X’s wife was Chinese American and so were her parents. They were now living in Australia and liking it here!  But they had all moved to Queensland to get away from the scandal. The wife was called in as a witness by video link, and she admitted that their marriage was “a work in progress”. 

After 5 weeks sitting in the jury box day after day, it finally came to an end. We gave him the benefit of the doubt in one case and declared him guilty on the other 18 counts. The sentence was handed down a few weeks later: 3 years’ in prison. But I suspect the worst punishment was yet to come. Non citizens who are convicted of a crime carrying more than one year’s prison sentence face deportation. He would have to go and all his dependents with him!


  1. Well, he picked the wrong continent to mess with.

  2. I hope everyone's safe and staying safe. I just read that the virus is mutating and getting much more dangerous. I don't want to alarm anyone but it's time to get right with God, cause this is getting downright scary! Stay home and stay safe, guys!

  3. I never wanted to do jury service ... until the moment I got called for jury service. I was working a contract in London at the time, commuting by the week, and such was my (lack of) enjoyment of the job that I very much hoped that I would find myself on a fraud case that would drag on for at least three months. I got a simple assault case that lasted for two days, although with the judge going off sick for a day and a bit of sitting around, I did manage to span it out to a week of work.