Defence: No evidence of money laundering

The Crown has no direct evidence to prove the money-laundering charges laid against two men, according to one of the defence lawyers.

Valentine Barclay Nicholas, 52, and a co-accused whose name is suppressed, are on trial in the Rotorua District Court charged with one count each of money laundering between August 30 and September 25, 2006.

The Crown alleges Nicholas obtained $90,300 cash from the sale of cannabis, which he gave to the co-accused. The co-accused deposited the money into his family trust bank account then wrote a cheque from that account to buy a forestry block, which the Crown said was intended for Nicholas.

It's alleged the transaction was an attempt to conceal the cash which came from selling drugs.

In his opening address yesterday Jonathan Temm, lawyer for the co-accused, said he would call four witnesses.

He said the Crown had conceded the case was circumstantial, with no "smoking gun" piece of evidence.

Mr Temm said the Crown's theory was the $90,300 came from selling drugs, based only on it being in $20 notes and a bank teller's testimony the notes smelt like the drug.

"Where's the real evidence of that?" he said.

He said the next elements of the Crown's theory were that the money came from Nicholas and Nicholas gave it to the co-accused.

"Where is the evidence that Mr Nicholas gave any money to [co-accused] at any time?" Mr Temm said. "It's like a big vacant hole in the middle of your jigsaw."

Mr Temm cautioned the jury to avoid "prejudice and bias" in relation to the Crown's evidence that Nicholas was a Mongrel Mob member, had CCTV at his house, several mobile phones and a broken radio scanner.

"It means nothing."

Mr Temm said the $90,300 was his client's and came from legitimate sources. His client did a lot of transactions in cash, selling vehicles, motorbikes and other property. Defence witnesses would confirm they had been parties to, or knew of, those cash transactions, Mr Temm said.

Mr Temm said if his client had been trying to conceal something it was "not very smart" to go into his own bank and chat to staff about buying a property with the money.

Nicholas' lawyer, Bill Nabney, did not call defence evidence on behalf of his client.

The trial is expected to conclude on Wednesday.

By Katie Holland of the Rotorua Daily Post

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