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Ibrahim learns fate over dodgy $600k payment

Written by on June 28, 2024

Sydney identity Fadi Ibrahim has narrowly avoided jail after he was arrested for possessing $600,000 in suspected proceeds of crime following an act of “familial generosity”.

He was arrested alongside brother Michael in Dubai in August 2017 amid a multi-agency sting on illegal importation and spent a month in custody before being extradited to Australia.

Michael was jailed for more than two decades in 2020 over his role in importing illegal drugs and tobacco into Australia, but Fadi’s case has languished in the courts for seven years.

His charge stemmed from a $800,000 loan to Michael in early 2017 that his brother used to purchase tobacco that was subsequently illegally imported into the country.

On Friday, Judge Christopher O’Brien accepted Fadi had no knowledge of his brother’s “serious criminal activities” and did not know what his brother intended to do with the money.

He also determined Fadi did not know Michael’s $600,000 loan repayment had been sourced from illicit sources.

Affidavits tendered to the court showed Fadi had been under pressure from Michael and their brother John, known as the Kings Cross nightclub “king”, to loan them money.

John has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

In her sworn statement, Fadi’s wife said her husband found it difficult to say no to his family and felt he had no choice but to lend his brothers money.

Judge O’Brien pointed to a phone call covertly recorded by police in which Fadi is heard telling Michael: “I do everything for you, everything you ask, I never say no.”

The judge ruled Fadi had acted out of “familial generosity” when he advanced the loan to Michael “to help him get on his feet after his release from prison”.

The court was told Fadi had not been “in his best state of mind” when he received the $600,000 repayment from his brother because he had been taking “mind-altering” painkillers.

The 50-year-old has struggled with chronic pain since 2009 when he was shot five times while sitting in a Lamborghini outside his Sydney home.

His legal team told the court he was weaning himself off his opioid painkillers with a ketamine infusion at hospital when the first of two repayments came through from Michael.

Judge O’Brien accepted Fadi’s judgment was impaired at the time and found the pressure exerted by his brothers reduced his moral culpability.

He said the guilty plea and Fadi’s lack of criminal activity since his arrest seven years ago were evidence of his contrition for possessing suspected proceeds of a crime.

In a letter tendered to the court, Fadi vowed to keep his nose clean in future.

“I will never again place myself in any situation where there is any doubt about where the money is coming from,” he pledged.

In sentencing the 50-year-old, Judge O’Brien took into consideration the “lengthy delay” in the proceedings that had left Fadi mired “in uncertainty for many years”.

He noted the delays would have been “stressful” for Fadi after his offer to plead guilty in 2019 was rejected by the prosecution.

Judge O’Brien convicted Fadi and sentenced him to 14 months imprisonment, which was wholly suspended.

He walked out of court under the condition he provide $5000 and be of good behaviour for three years.

Outside court, his lawyer Greg Goold said Fadi was “really really pleased” that “it’s all over”.

“It’s been seven years of an arduous and tiring involvement with the criminal law,” he said.

“He’s now basically a free man … (and) he’s anxious to get back to his family, his wife who has supported him, his kids, and get on with his life.”

Mr Goold described the proceedings as a “bit of a glitch” for the “really close-knit” Ibrahim family who tended to support themselves.

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