‘Harassed’ gang suspect tells police to back off

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THE man police suspect of leading the Sword Boys gang says he has been slugged with a “crazy” $27 million tax bill as part of a harassment campaign by authorities.

Ziad Jneid, 36, who emphatically denies membership of any crime group, says he is a property developer and father of five, with no criminal record, who pays his taxes and who won gold for Australia in the 2004 Oceania Bench Press Championships in New Zealand.

But he said police had repeatedly “illegally” raided, searched and harassed him and his family over several years.

And he believes the “fictitious” tax bill, that came in July for his family trust, is “100 per cent” related to the police campaign, and he will fight it.

Mr Jneid said he had complained to the Taxation Ombudsman and objected to the Australian Taxation Office, but the ATO did not appear to want to resolve the matter quickly. He said the tax bill followed complaints he made through prominent lawyer Shash Nigam about police conduct, including one to the Corruption and Crime Commission last year. This had gone to the CCC parliamentary inspector, after the CCC did not resolve it for 16 months.

“The nature of the WA Police is this: When you start complaining, when you start asking for your rights, they don’t like it,” he said.

“They just start hitting you even harder. I feel like we’re living worse than living under communists in this state, the harassment we’re getting.”

Mr Jneid said only Mr Nigam’s complaints to authorities stopped activities such as repeated car searches, police trespassing at his home and harassment of him and his family at Perth airport when returning from trips.

“They were photocopying my kids’ passports . . . what are they, criminals at 3 1/2?” he said.

Mr Jneid said the complaint that was referred to the parliamentary inspector focused on police “illegally” raiding his home in January 2011, allegedly looking for the culprits of a baseball-bat bashing of an off-duty officer.

He said the raid occurred despite identikit photos of suspects looking nothing like him or other relatives who were targeted, and the search warrant not even listing a bat but instead including a “pistol”.

“The CCC don’t do anything about a complaint about an illegal raid for 16 months,” Mr Jneid said.

“But if you don’t answer questions from the CCC, you go to jail for two years how is that having the same law for everyone?”

Mr Jneid said one prominent fishing expedition by authorities was an investigation into bets he and relatives laid on the controversial 2010 Danny Green-Paul Briggs fight.

He said more than $200,000 of winnings had to be returned to them, after Mr Nigam complained to the Northern Territory Racing and Gaming Commission, and no wrongdoing was found.

Mr Jneid said he was also considering his legal options after police allegedly offered enticements such as easier treatment on charges to at least three people to “set up” him and one of his brothers, because he was concerned this would recur.

“The law has to be the law for everyone, for us and them,” he said. “They want to be role models, the cops, but to serve the community, they have to be better than everyone … not worse.”

The Sword Boys is known as a Lebanese street gang.

Police have never publicly named Mr Jneid as leader of the Sword Boys, or publicly linked him to any of their suspected crimes.

When asked about claims that he was boss of the Sword Boys, Mr Jneid said: “It’s definitely not true. I am a father of five kids, I am the director of a Perth building company.”

Mr Jneid, who came with family to Australia from Lebanon 21 years ago, said he was “comfortable” financially, because when he was younger he invested in property with his father, and because of later property developments.

Police media Insp Bill Munnee said the Jneid family allegations were “investigated and found to be without basis”, including the claim of trespass in which two officers had “responded to an activated alarm” at the Jneid home.

He said the family had “attempted to connect unrelated contacts with police to a plan or co-ordinated effort to harass them”.

The CCC knew of the matters and were reviewing investigations.

An ATO spokeswoman said it was unable to comment because of the Income Tax Assessment Act’s secrecy provisions.