SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) – Qantas Airways has asked Australian law-enforcement agencies for details of an intelligence report that is said to suggest the airline has been infiltrated by organised criminal gangs importing drugs.
Qantas wrote to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Federal Police, Border Force and Aviation and Maritime Security after Nine Entertainment publications said an intelligence operation called Project Brunello found potentially 150 employees had links to organized crime.
Among the most concerning is a mid-level Qantas manager at Sydney airport who is affiliated with a motorcycle gang, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, which is part of Nine. Intelligence suggests the man recruited criminals into the airline to help import narcotics, the newspaper said. The suspected wrongdoing represents a very high threat to the Australian border, it said.
Qantas chief security officer Luke Bramah said the claims were “disturbing” and that the company follows all of the government’s vetting procedures. He said Qantas hasn’t been told about any investigations into employees or of the existence of a report suggesting some are linked to crime.
“If concerns are raised regarding any of our employees, we will actively support their investigation and take appropriate action,” Mr Bramah said in a statement. “While Australia does have world-leading aviation security, of course more can be done to help reduce the risk of people working in the industry trying to take advantage of their position to commit crimes such as drug smuggling.”
The Sydney Morning Herald said individuals identified include a Hells Angels-linked figure in the Northern Territory working as a Qantas contractor and a freight contractor in Perth who used his “trusted insider status” to make large drug deliveries.
Qantas shares fell 1.9 per cent on Monday (June 7), the most in a week.